September 23, 2001 / Volume 1, Issue 29
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Was Jesus' first sermon preached on a plain or on a mount? Matthew 5:1-2 reads, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying..." However, Luke 6:17, 20 says, "And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people...came to hear him...and he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said..."
Is there a contradiction?
The questioner has made a false statement, and an unneccsary assumption to devise this 'contradiction.' First, he states that what we read in Matthew 5 and Luke 6 is Jesus' first sermon. We find in both Matthew (4:14, 4:23) and Luke (4:15ff; 4:31; 4:44; 5:17; 6:6) instances where Jesus preached before this/these occasions.
Second, the questioner assumes that what is recorded in Matthew and Luke are the same occasion. Since Matthew speaks of Jesus going "...up into a mountain..." and Luke says that He "...stood in the plain...", it would seem only logical that we are reading of two separate preaching opportunities. I don't know of a preacher who has not preached the same sermon more than once. Just recently, I preached one sermon (Behold, The Bridegroom Is Coming - Matthew 24:1-13) in three different places within the span of two weeks. Could Jesus not have conceivably preached this sermon on the mount, and at another time in the plain? Also, it is noteworthy that the content of the sermons are not entirely parallel. Likewise, though I preached the same sermon three times within a two week span, the delivery and content of the lesson was not exactly the same each time. Preachers do tend to provide content which will best suit the audience to whom they are speaking. Certainly, I imagine the Lord would do so as well.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible, but original article is no longer listed