Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Matthew 16 - The King is Challenged and Confirmed

LINK: Matthew 16

106. Leaders demand a miraculous sign: Matthew 16:1-4, Mark 8:11-13

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were opposed to each other in many ways. The Sadducees believed only in the books of Moses (Genesis - Deuteronomy) and did not believe in life after death. The Pharisees believed in all Scripture and obeying all their added on religious rules and traditions. They also believed in the resurrection of the dead.

Although they were often opposed, they united against their common enemy, Jesus. Despite all the miracles Jesus had performed, they wanted more signs. They had already missed all the spiritual signs that pointed to Jesus as the Christ. Would one more make any difference? Jesus knew it would not bring them to believe. 

By the way, now we know that the origin of this saying is from the Bible:

Red sky at night: Sailor's delight. 
Red sky at morn: Sailor's warn.

107. Jesus warns against wrong teaching: Matthew 16:5-12, Mark 8:14-21

Jesus had already fed the 5,000 and 4,000, and the disciples were worried about not having enough bread? They did not get it!

This time the "yeast/leaven" of the Pharisees refers to evil or false doctrine that had corrupted the whole nation.  Evil sometimes can be small and hidden like leaven, but it spreads and infects everything. Leaven is also given as a picture of false doctrine (Galatians 5:1-9), sin that is not dealt with in the church (1 Corinthians 5), and hypocrisy (Luke 12:1) in other places in the New Testament. 

109. Peter says Jesus is the Messiah: Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 9:18-20

This event marks a new phase of Jesus' ministry. He withdrew more from Jewish dominated regions to predominantly Gentile ones in order to avoid large crowds and Jewish opposition and concentrate more on investing in the disciples who would carry on His work. Caesarea-Philippi (#13 on the map) was ruled by Herod Philip who was a more just ruler than his half-brothers Archelaus and Antipas, and he had no reason to be suspicious like Antipas (see Event #95). 

Before He begins this more intense investment for the future, He makes sure they understand who He is! Peter responds that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah; "the anointed One." The Old Testament made clear that the Messiah was God (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2). This is an amazing declaration by Peter, and was the green light for Jesus to proceed with His plan!

Peter (Petros, masculine in Greek) was strong like a rock. Jesus said that "on this rock (petra, feminine in Greek) He would build His church. Jesus praised Peter for understanding that He was the Messiah, and He introduced His work of building the church (first occurrence of this word in the New Testament) with Himself as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). He proceeded to tell the disciples that not even his physical death would prevent the building of the church. 

The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Revelation 1:18, Revelation 3:7) can be understood as Jesus giving Peter authority like a master would give the key to his treasures to his faithful steward. Peter and the disciples were given the authority to steward and carry on the work of spreading the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 

"Binding and loosing" was a common phrase to the Jews and means "forbidding or permitting."  The religious leaders thought they had the "keys" (authority) to forbid and permit, but Jesus gave that authority to the disciples! It would not be according to unreasonable, man-made traditions but according to the will and word of God. 

110. Jesus predicts his death the first time: Matthew 16:21-28, Mark 8:31-9:1, Luke 9:21-27

The next section confirms that Peter could NOT be the "rock" of the church that many interpreters believe because he challenged Jesus prediction of His death and resurrection! Jesus rebuked him for it! 

Now that the disciples have an idea of who Jesus is and what would come in the future. He invited them into the life of costly discipleship: denying self, taking up one's cross, and following Him.  It was a life of complete devotion!

The end of this section indicates that they will see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom before they taste death. Since all the disciples died before Christ's return, this is either referring to the transfiguration in the next chapter or Pentecost (Acts 2) where certain disciples were eyewitnesses to Christ's power and glory!


Continue to ask yourself questions about "Life in the Kingdom" from earlier this week. What are the costs of it for you today? Does your life look any different from those who live outside the kingdom?


Lord, help us to count the cost of following You and help us to follow. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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