Matthew 5-7 is known as the Sermon on the Mount. In the Gospel according to the Apostle Matthew, it is the first of five sustained discourses by Jesus. (Matthew 10, 13, 18, 23-25 are the other four discourses.)

The number five is no accident. From the beginning of Matthew, Jesus is shown to be the “prophet like Moses.” Deuteronomy 18:15-22 foretold that there would be seers to come, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to speak for God, and of that company one would stand above all others like Moses. Moses was not just a prophet. He led the people and stood before God directly as a mediator.

Matthew shows Jesus like Moses, threatened as an infant, coming out of Egypt (Mt 2:13-18). As Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount, “he went up on the mountain,” like Moses (Mt 5:1). Then, as the sermon concludes, we hear, “when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one with authority, and not as their scribes” (Mt 7:28-29).

Five discourses, then, match the five books of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy. This is not just Matthew’s perspective. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount makes it clear that He is taking up this prophesied mantle. “You have heard it said… but I say to you…” not only sets Jesus’ words besides Moses’ as equals, but casts Jesus’ teaching as the fulfillment and crown of God’s revelation.

Later, in Matthew 12, Jesus announces that one greater than the Temple (Mt 12:6), greater than Jonah (Mt 12:41), and greater than Solomon (12:42) has arrived. Keep an eye out, then, for how Jesus takes up the images and themes of the Old Testament and fulfills them.