In Matthew 4, we read that the crowds followed Jesus as he taught and healed them. In chapter 5, which includes what are called the Beatitudes, we see that Jesus seeks to distance himself from the following mob, to get together with his disciples to teach them about how to behave in their own role as disciples in serving others.
In Chapter 5 verses 1-16, Matthew writes:
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’”
Note in verse 11 and following, Jesus was talking to his disciples whom he addressed as “you” and “your” and not to those in the nearby crowd.
In the final chapter 28 of Matthew, verses 16-20 is the ultimate calling of Jesus to his disciples:
“Now the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
We too, as followers of Jesus, are likewise called to make a difference as present day disciples.
David Tritenbach is a retired Presbyterian minister.