Matthew’s gospel is located first in our New Testaments because it is a link between the Old and New Covenants, given to the Jewish people. Matthew’s readers were Jewish Christians and his gospel continually speaks to the life of Christ as their promised Messiah.
Matthew points out that Christ was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, providing hope and direction for God’s people, and even more, for all people. Matthew’s gospel is excellent literature and was probably used to teach the children of Hebrew Christian parents the story of Christ.
The Sermon on the Mount is sometimes called the “magna carta” of Christ’s ministry. Much like the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, these were the foundational truths of Jesus’ message. The Sermon on the Mount was a series of lessons, possibly taught over several days. Jesus taught his disciples and the large crowd that had gathered to hear him near the Sea of Galilee. Jesus likely taught these lessons at the beginning of his second year of public ministry, often called “The Year of Popularity.”
Some have said that the Sermon on the Mount is an introduction to all that Jesus would teach about the New Covenant, God’s new relationship with his children.
When we study Matthew it is important to see the lessons of Christ as they were intended to teach the first century, Jewish audience. The words of Christ are still his message to God’s children today.