Matthew 16

Well I realized too late last week that I didn’t get another chapter of Matthew done in time, so I apologize about missing a week, but here’s our next study for Chapter 16… Gonna have to warn you though, this is a long one.

The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.  He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and low|ering.

O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.  Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.  Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

In this chapter we have the most intense, and difficult questions and sayings of Jesus of the New Testament.  We also have a verse which many interpret differently, but we’ll get to those in due time.

First off, we again see the religious leaders trying to goad Jesus, this time in revealing signs from heaven to show Jesus as Who He says He is.  That God indeed did send Him to teach and save the sins of man.

Their hearts were so hardened, and self seeking that Jesus rebukes them (yet again) and calling them wicked.  Knowing their hearts, and that they had seen the miracles, heard the teaching, yet still didn’t believe, they wouldn’t have believed if God Himself pointed down out of Heaven and declared for them to hear, “Here is my beloved Son…”

Jesus tells the disciples, and anyone who follows Him, to beware of the leaven, which bakers know is the yeast which ferments and spreads, to make bread rise.   The religious leaders bitterness and pride was fermented in their own spirits, and Jesus warned them not to allow it to spread to them.

And now for the most important question of all time, “Whom say ye that I am?”

That is a question on which is the basis of eternal destination rests.   One either believes Jesus is or not….

the Christ, the Son of the living God, as Peter answered.

The next verse is one of contention sometimes, because of the wording and meaning to different denominations, and yet, it is the confession which is, as Jesus told Peter, from God the Father that marks Peter and the other disciples as believers. But it is here where Jesus discusses the beginning of the church of believers.  The church was founded on the bold confession of Jesus’ authority, the church continues to grow and advance through the bold proclamation of Christ’s message and the display of his power through the Holy Spirit which came into believers gathered on the day of Pentecost.  It is the Holy Spirit which reveals, teaches, and convicts believers, from that first day and still today.  Christianity is about revelations and  gifts from above, God  blessed Peter with the knowledge, God blesses believers with the same knowledge, just as He blesses us salvation through His only begotten Son and blesses believers with the Holy Spirit

When one considers the time and place, and imagines being where they were that day when Jesus essentially proclaims to Peter, “You are a rock…”

The place where they were was at Caesar Philippi. There is a huge outcrop of rock there, where Herod had made a temple,  and it’s where government officials also had their ‘vacation’ homes. It was a pagan area, worship of Pan, where a literal place,”The Gates of Hell” was located in a cave.   Jesus pointed to the rock, as a visual of the strength of such a huge (Petra) rock. And upon the Rock (Petra) of Jesus- that even the gates of hell, or every other pagan god would never prevail.

We see Jesus as the builder of the church in Zechariah 6:11,13 and yet we see the foundation of the church in the apostles ministry work in the  words of Revelation 21:14 in the foundation of the New Jerusalem.  But the foundation, the solid rock is Jesus.

He is as in Deuteronomy 32:4- “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

1 Samuel 2:2-“There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.

2 Samuel 22:47-“The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; And exalted be God, the rock of my salvation,

Psalm 18:31-For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God,

Psalm 62:2-He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Psalm 118:22- The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.

Isaiah, 28:16- Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

Matthew 7:24-“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Matthew 21:42-Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Acts 4:11-This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

2 Peter 2:6- Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

It is this rock, this solid foundation, this corner stone which is Jesus, that the confession is made, which is the church.  Peter and the other Apostles built on the foundation with their ministry, the living stones, adding and discipling more living stones which the church is made up of.  That would be you, me and every believer. The Church.

That even the gates of hell can not prevail against it, we have Jesus’s promise that while we as the church have enemies, He will preserve and secure and protect His Bride.

To continue Jesus using the geographical location they were at during this conversation, the fact that this was an area where government officials frequented, Jesus is setting up the leadership (government) of His church.  He is handing over the keys and empowering His ministers with keeping the order, ministering to and serving the people. While He gives the key to Peter initially, He would be the first to open the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles.  But the authority of duties were given to all of the Apostles, and are a part of all who are of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but we, the church have the authority of Jesus to share His kingdom by sharing the gospel with the world.

The Keys are the key of doctrine, of knowledge- to bind that which was and is unlawful and to loose that which was and is truth. The key of discipline, and to make disciples of the doctrine of knowledge.  Binding those who preach false doctrine and loosening those who repent and are saved.  We all have that power.

Finally,  Jesus tells the disciples to keep the conversation private- because if it was known that He indeed was Messiah, they would not have dared crucify Him, which brings us to his revealing to the disciples what must happen, and nothing less than His death, burial and resurrection would shake the world and prove Jesus Is Lord.

This had to be the hardest message  of all to the disciples, who were friends, not just students of Jesus. To think that He would have to die in order for the Kingdom to come, was inconceivable, hence Peter’s rebuke, No, Lord, say it isn’t so!

That someone, the Lord of Lords, Son of God would die in such a way was a disgrace and dishonor to a world which should have such a King. And yet by Jesus telling them of the suffering He would endure, they understand that they too would perhaps suffer.

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 

Get thee behind me Satan… Jesus rebukes the tempter, the temptation to forego the pain, humiliation, torture and death, because Satan knew that he would lose should Christ be victorious over death.  One could only imagine by this time Jesus just wanted to get to the cross and have it done,  because He loves the world so much.  He needed no pep talks, no temptations, no game plan. He had it all planned before the beginning of the world.  He did not need Satan to stand in the way of salvation, and he didn’t want His disciples or followers to be tempted out of suffering for Christ’s sake either.

Persecution, pain and death are things we don’t like to think about. Comfort and peace, the ‘right’ to practice and believe what we want is something so many Christians take for granted.  But there are millions who suffer daily, who have taken up their crosses, whatever they may be, in order to follow Jesus, even if it means to follow Him to death… but what a sweet life  that comes. That is what gives us hope, and that is the promise that Jesus reminds us of.

Onward fellow Soldiers.

Have a blessed Wednesday.