“As Your Father Also Is Merciful”: The Sermon on the Plain and the Development of Mercy


Mercy, Sermon, Father, Father in Heaven, Merciful


Although the Sermon on the Plain in Luke resembles the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, one crucial difference comes in the admonition given to each audience. [1] Following the Beatitudes and a redefinition of the scope of the Mosaic law, Matthew brings chapter 5 of the Sermon on the Mount to a crescendo by admonishing, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). In the Lucan version of this discourse, Jesus admonishes his followers, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36; emphasis added). This divergence is curious. While it is quite possible that Matthew and Luke are recording two different sermons delivered by Jesus on separate occasions, the similarity in both the language and the central location of each of the statements within their respective discourses suggests a possible link between the development of mercy and becoming “perfect.” The purpose of this paper will be to examine more closely the Savior’s admonition to “Be ye therefore merciful” in hopes of both shedding light on the intent of the Sermon on the Plain as well as opening up some possibilities as to the relationship between “perfect” and “merciful.”

Original Publication Citation

“‘As Your Father Also Is Merciful:’ Luke’s ‘Sermon on the Plain’ as a Pattern for the Development of Mercy” in The Sermon on the Mount in Latter-day Scripture (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 249-267. (Peer Reviewed)

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Religious Studies Center




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor