Sermon on the Mount, The Emmaus View

Foreword (Version 1.5)

The word on the Word

"Look for a moment at ancient wisdom;
consider the truths our ancestors learnt.

Our life is short, we know nothing at all;
we pass like shadows across the earth.

But let the wise ancestors teach you;
listen to what they had to say."

(Job 8:8-10, GNT) 

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life;
and these are they which testify of Me.”

(John 5:39, NKJV)

“Concerning this salvation,
the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you,
searched intently and with the greatest care.”

(1 Peter 1:10, NIV)


It is odd that the Sermon on the Mount hardly features in this book, for it was whilst considering its context that my view of Matthew’s opening chapters was transformed. I came to see them as the literary equivalent of an ancient city mound, with each superficial feature and minor irregularity enticing me to dig. Questions became the tools with which to unearth precious shards, ‘Who’, ‘What’ and ‘Why?’ my trowel, sieve and spade. Some artefacts lay buried amidst the dusty details, some hidden in plain sight and yet others, stripped of their context by modern re-use, were hardly recognisable. Yet, whether discovered by wearisome digging amidst the details, or by re-scanning the foot burnished flooring of scriptural cloisters, each added to a picture of the whole that was not quite as I had imagined it would be.

This book started as an exclamation from the bottom of a muddy trench, an appeal to others to ‘come, see what I have found!’ However, each new discovery widened the scope of my dig, as I found myself searching oft-neglected corners of the Hebrew Bible and tracing the outlines of ancient structures buried amidst the words. The picture that emerged was one of sanctified motives, enduring faith, and a purposeful progression that culminated in the cross. Hence, the book you have before you, whilst based on a few chapters, depicts the grace of an unchanging and uncompromisingly just God at work from Genesis to Jesus. It traces links between the seemingly disparate, explores the significance of the puzzling and investigates the vocabulary of the prophets. However, above all, it demonstrates how successive generations built upon God’s earlier judgements to provide the legal basis for the ministry of John the Baptist, the mission of Messiah and the birth of the Church. The picture it provides can never be as perfect as a photograph, but it is, I hope, a significant improvement upon many that have gone before.

If initially I may seem to be going in some odd directions, I pray that you will bear with me until I reach my destination. For, in developing this portrait of the scriptures, I was forced to re-evaluate my comfortable understanding of many a passage. Although it sometimes felt like all my digging was demolishing the ramparts of my essentially evangelical faith, I have ended up with a firmer foundation for it than I ever dared believed.

Return to outline of The Emmaus View book