Preceding this sermon by the Lord was the special selection of twelve men (the apostles) who would be personally trained to be witnesses of Christ and preach the gospel (Luke 6:12 - 20).
Although the Bible is silent in regard to the exact location of the Sermon on the Mount, it has been historically believed to have been given on Mt. Eremos. This location has been commemorated as the place of the message for more than 1,500 years. It is positioned on Galilee's northwest shore between the cities of Gennesaret and Capernaum.
The place from where this message is believed to have been given overlooks the plain of Gennesaret, an area known for its fertility. The New Testament records several times that Jesus was in this area, including when he healed the multitudes and faced condemnation from the Pharisees for ritual impurity.
In the 4th century A.D. a Byzantine church structure was placed near Mt. Eremos where it was believed Jesus gave his sermon. Today, the only things that remain from this building are pieces of a cistern and monastery.
During the third Crusade in 1187 A.D., the great military leader Saladin and his Moslem forces completely defeated the crusaders at the mount. This victory compelled him to take the city of Jerusalem in October of the same year. In 1938 A.D. the Roman Catholic Church built a chapel near the believed location of the sermon.
The sermon Jesus gave on the mount is unique in that, for the first time in history, it began to fully set the terms of the New Covenant (agreement) God will ultimately offer all mankind. Unlike the Old Covenant, which promised only physical blessings, the New Covenant makes possible eternal spiritual blessings. Jesus likely choose to give his message or "sermon" from a hill so that as many people as possible could hear what he had to say.
Sections of the sermon
The first part of Jesus' famous sermon, Matthew 5:3 - 12, is commonly referred to as the Beatitudes (which some take to mean "beautiful attitudes"). The word "beatitude," however, comes from the Latin meaning "happy" or "blessed." As such, the location where he gave his entire message is sometimes called the Mt. of Beatitudes.
Jesus pronounced, in his sermon, many blessings to those who obey God and maintain a loving attitude pleasing to him.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:3 - 6, HBFV).
Starting in verse seven of Matthew 5 Jesus goes on to state the following.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:7 to 10).
The simple principles and profound truths Jesus discussed in his Sermon on the Mount are the foundation stones of true Christianity.