Visio Divina - A Meditation on the "Sermon on the Mount"

About the Painting: Sermone Della Montagna (The Sermon on the Mount) by Cosimo Rosselli

This is a fresco, painted on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. The painting shows the mass of people who followed Jesus, but also contains several individual scenes of the twelve disciples huddled close together behind Christ and to the right. Farther back we see them again approaching with their master. On the right side Christ is seen healing a leper.


Our Creator God has gifted each of us with powers of observation. He's also gifted us with imaginations that can be used to dwell on him and his love for us. Sometimes, by looking at a piece of artwork, we can use both our powers of observation and our imagination to help us absorb facets of our favorite Bible stories and concepts about God that might otherwise remain cold facts that only reside in our head and do not make a place in our heart. 

We are currently spending time in the gospel of Matthew. Here is an artist's rendering of the Sermon on the Mount. Use this painting to help yourself visualize what it might have looked like and felt like to be on the hillside listening to Jesus. 

Start by taking a few minutes to be quiet. Let your pulse settle and take a few breaths. Get comfortable. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you. Perhaps you will want to read all or part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) before or after you spend time with the artwork. 

Listen and think deeply about  ways that God might be touching your heart through this painting. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you spend time thinking about God and his Kingdom in this exercise.


Opening this link to view the larger image will enhance your ability to enjoy the painting.


In this painting you will see the disciples and Jesus represented several times. You'll also see other men and women. There is a lot of detail in this painting. Take time to absorb it. (It can take up to 20 minutes for our minds to absorb all the details of a painting and be able to settle and make deeper connections.)


Ponder This:


•Notice the different situations in which Jesus is portrayed in this painting. How do you think these various scenes with Jesus relate to each other?


•Notice the disciples in the various scenes.  Notice their body postures, facial expressions.


•Take time to look at the other various people the artist chose to paint. Notice their body postures and facial expressions.


Do you see love for Jesus in some of them? Do you see resistance to Jesus and his message in some?


•Which of the characters in this painting do you most identify with?



Consider writing down any insights that you have.


Close with prayer, asking God to guide you and help you to rest in His love.