Proximity to Jesus

31 May

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: (Matthew 5:1-2)

Jesus, apparently in an effort to get high enough to be able to speak to the entire crowd, goes to the top of a conveniently near-by mountain. Next, up came his disciples, while the crowd remained below. There’s a pretty clear separation that we can see here: we’ve got Jesus, we’ve got His disciples, and then we’ve got the untold masses below. Now, perhaps someone put up a sign that told the masses gathered below not to come up to where Jesus was, and Matthew simply forgot to record it, we don’t know. However, as far as we do know, the crowds didn’t come up because they didn’t want to.

They, apparently, preferred to hear Christ’s teaching from a safe distance. A distance, where they could quickly disappear from if Pharisees showed up… Yet, they were still allowed to hear Christ’s teaching, right along with the Jesus’ disciples, who had actually come up the mountain to be with Him. So, what’s the real difference between the masses, and the disciples? Both parties had the chance to follow Jesus around and hear Him speak, but only the masses could hurry off, and not be caught if those opposed to Jesus showed up. So, was the crowd actually in a better position than the disciples, who were physically closer to Christ, were?

Well, it’s true that physical proximity to Jesus doesn’t matter that much. However, Jesus does reward their willingness to openly follow Him later. Only the Disciples got to witness Jesus curse a fig tree. Only the Disciples got to hear Him say, “Peace be with you.” when He appeared to them after His crucifixion. But now, let’s get back to being realistic; how does any of this apply to us? Certainly it’s good for the Apostles to be able to climb the mountain and be physically close to Jesus, but so what? It’s not like we can do that.

The Apostles teach us a lesson: when we walk Spiritually close to Christ, He’ll walk close to us. – When we make Him the focus of our day, and when our aim is to please and to give glory to God, Christ will show Himself to us in new and sometimes unexpected ways.

So, which are we? One of the masses who hears Christ, but will run off the moment opposition arises, or a disciple, to whom Christ reveals Himself in new and different ways?

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Delivered Through Love


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13 responses to “Proximity to Jesus

  1. ansuyo

    June 2, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    Interesting take on this passage. Many of the masses were there hoping to ” see a show” and nothing more. Angie

    • Joshua Cleveland

      June 2, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Yes, it’s really quite sad. They have Jesus Himself, the son of God, among them, and they treat Him like entertainment.

      Thank’s for stopping by Angie,


  2. granonine

    June 1, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Interesting interpretation and application of this passage, Joshua. Never thought of it in precisely those terms. Maybe there just wasn’t room for all the masses at the top of the mountain, and it was similar to a pastor of today’s church to mounting the platform in order to be seen and heard by all the people. Don’t know, not disagreeing with you; just thinking about alternatives.

    • Joshua Cleveland

      June 2, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      Hey Linda,

      It seems I’ve managed to, yet again, over-look the practical aspect that there simply may have not been enough room. I suppose the top of a mountain isn’t exactly the largest of places in the World. Well, that could well explain why it is the people decided to remain below; if only the disciples could be up there with Jesus.

      Well, who knows? Maybe I’ll delete the post. Anyway, thank you for the constructive criticism, it’s much appreciated,


      • granonine

        June 2, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        No, Joshua, don’t delete the post! It’s a wonderful application, and I was in no way saying you were wrong. I simply hadn’t thought of it from that angle, and my mind tends to run to the practical. No criticism intended.

      • Joshua Cleveland

        June 3, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        Oh don’t worry, I didn’t think you were, but I have personal reasons for disliking the post. Thank you though for your compliment. 🙂 As for the “criticism”, I tend to take everything that views what I said from a different angle as a helpful form of criticism – my definition is a little unorthodox.

        Thank’s Linda,


  3. Simple Theologian

    May 31, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Random thought popped into my head as I was reading it…is it interesting that Jesus taught from a mountain and Moses gave the Israelite’s God’s commandments from a mountain?

    • Joshua Cleveland

      June 2, 2012 at 2:23 PM


      You’re right, that is rather interesting. Maybe there’s something in that Moses, in the Old Testament, who taught law, and Jesus in the New Testament who taught grace? Whatever the case, it’s certainly an interesting thought, thank you for bringing it up.


      • Simple Theologian

        June 2, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        You bring up another interesting thought that I heard on the radio a few weeks back. It was about grace, and it was something like this:

        The Law teaches us that if we kill someone we have sinned.
        Grace teaches us that if we have anger in our hearts we are murderers and have sinned.

        To me it says that Grace is the perfecter of the Law. Grace is not about what we receive when we’ve sinned but a better way to live according to the Law.

      • Joshua Cleveland

        June 3, 2012 at 8:47 PM

        Well, I think I have to somewhat disagree on that definition of grace sir. I believe that the example that you heard on the radio was Jesus teaching, rather than Him talking on grace. I also have to disagree that grace is a better way to live according to the law, to me that’s contradictory. We receive the gift of God’s grace – of His pardoning all of our sin, when we believe in Jesus’ death and Ressurection. That’s how I see it.

        Please don’t take this offensively, but it seems right now that what you’re saying ignores the cross entirely. I agree that grace is not about what we receive when we’ve sinned, rather, I believe it’s about what we receive when Jesus forgives all of our sin. Here’s an illustration that I heard on the radio:

        Trying to obey the law perfectly is like trying to row a motor-boat. – It’s impossible to do it perfectly.
        Grace is turning on the engine. – Letting Christ obey the law for us.

        I’ve written quite a bit, mostly in the past, about this subject. If what you’re referring to the doctrine of legalism, then I can point you to a few posts that tell my views on the subject.

        Thank’s for stopping by and giving your thoughts,


      • Joshua Cleveland

        June 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM

        I just realized I contradicted myself in my last reply to your comment. I forgot that the actual bit about how both Moses and Jesus were on a mountain, and so looked at what I consider to be difference between the two of them rather than comparing what they actually taught on their respective mountains. I’m sorry for any confusion which I may have accidentally caused.



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