Temple on the Mount Sermon
In the clutter of opinions concerning Jesus' masterful Sermon transmitted by both Matthew and Mormon, I offer a view of the Sermon at the Temple as a profound temple-text. I realize that assembling this view has been assisted by looking at circumstantial evidence, contextual inferences, and comparative studies, and by reading the Sermon at the Temple in light of a Latter-day Saint's understanding of the temple. Nowhere does Jesus say to us, "I am presenting a temple experience here." He says only, "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 13:9).
I also readily acknowledge that one can understand the Sermon in many other ways. There are many good interpretations of this rich and deeply spiritual text. Many elements present in the Sermon are basic to the first principles of the gospel and thus are certainly also relevant to general ethical exhortation, righteousness, and the covenants of baptism. For example, at baptism one covenants to care for the poor, to comfort those that mourn, and to keep God's commandments (see Mosiah 18:8—10; see also Mosiah 5:3—8; Moroni 4:1—5:2), topics stressed also in the Sermon. So, individual teachings of the Sermon will apply in many gospel settings. Yet I know of no other single interpretation that makes more consistent sense of the Sermon as a whole or gives more meaning to all its parts than does this one. No part is out of place or left out under this approach.
Moreover, although I cannot conclusively say through deductive logic that my view of the Sermon at the Temple is correct, I can say that I did not go into this text looking for this result. Whatever subtle bias or predisposition toward the temple may be involved, the pattern that emerges from this text is too natural for me to think that I have imposed it intrusively upon the data. After working for many years on the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple, all these things fell quite suddenly into place, without prodding or...