Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Matthew 16

Matthew 16:1-4 - Pharisees Demand A Sign

The Pharisees and Sadducees had seen Jesus' miracles already.  They didn't need more evidence, but they came to Jesus and asked for Him to give them a sign.  It was not because they were interested and had a desire to know Him, but to test and manipulate Him and put Him on the spot.  Jesus pointed them to the ordinary heavenly signs that predicted the weather.  Anyone could see the sky and see what it revealed.  God gave signs that clearly pointed to His Son, which was much more important than the weather.  They chose not to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.  They were blinded by the signs of His coming.  Jesus knew exactly what they were doing and told them they should already be familiar with the prophecies.  "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.  A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, and none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." - Matt. 16:3-4. 

What is the sign of Jonah?  Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and remained in its belly for 3 days before he was released.  This foreshadows the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus was killed and stayed in the tomb for 3 days before God resurrected Him.

We should not rely on signs and miracles for proof of God our Creator.  Even Satan can do miracles.  We can interpret the signs of the times today.  Just look around at God's creation.  We can see His awesome power.  "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." - Rom. 1:20.

Are you stubborn in your unbelief?
Can you recognize the signs of God's blessings and warnings?

Matthew 16:5-12 - The Yeast of the Pharisees

Jesus then warned the disciples. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." - Matt. 16:6.   In bread yeast is used to rise or puff up the bread.  Jesus did not want the disciples to be puffed up thinking themselves better than others.  The Pharisees did just that.  They thought they were holier than the people.  This includes us.  The yeast of the Pharisees is legalism, selfishness, counterfeit, and hypocrisy.  We are not to be self-centered.  We are not to glorify ourselves, but God.

The disciple didn't understand what Jesus meant by the yeast.  They were preoccupied and worried about trivial matters like what they were going to eat.  They were still focused on material things and not eternal things.  We are like them.  We focus on our jobs, food, clothing, etc. instead of God and His Kingdom.  Jesus questioned their faith.  They had forgotten the miracles of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 with small amounts of food.  Did they not have faith that Jesus would provide for them?  They just didn't get it.  This slow understanding of His words can be an encouragement to us.  Sometimes we are slow to understand and have a lot to learn as well.

Do you sometime find Scripture hard to understand? 
If so, what can you do to understand it better?

Matthew 16:13-20 - Peter Confesses Jesus is Christ

You can know what others think about Jesus, but that isn't enough.  You must think about Jesus for yourself.  So Jesus asked the disciples who do the people say He is.  Jesus needed them to openly confess that He was both the Messiah and Son of God in order to prepare them for the next step - the cross.  Jesus asks each person that same thing today.    

The disciples answered that some say Jesus was John the Baptist, some Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.  Then Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say I am?" - Matt. 16:15.   Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." - Matt. 16:16.  Peter realized that Jesus was truly God.  Peter's understanding of the identity of Jesus came by divine revelation (Matt. 16:17).  Then Jesus gives authority to the disciples to admit believers to the Kingdom and to bind the nonbelievers for judgment. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." - Matt. 16:19.

Who do you say Jesus is?  The Holy Spirit speaks to us revealing to us that Jesus is Lord.  It is important for us to answer this question truthfully with belief in our hearts and our confession needs to be public.  We need to be ready to give a firm answer when asked who Jesus is and what we believe. 

Christ means "the Anointed One."  He is the fulfillment of God's promise and the mediator between God and man.  Christ is the Great Prophet, Only High Priest, Eternal King or Lord, Savior, and True Shepherd.  Jesus is God's Son.  He is the Almighty Lord God of the Bible.  Jesus as God is the Creator, the giver of life and forgiver of sin.  Jesus is over angles, demons, mankind, nature, death, health and illness.  He is the final authority and His Words are God's Words.

Jesus called Peter a rock and that His church will be built on this rock.  The rock is actually Jesus Himself.  Peter is like the first rock in God's building.  Jesus is the true foundation.  God's building is the church and Peter was the first person to declare that he believed Jesus.  Peter became a leader and teacher in the church and was the first to speak to the crowds at Pentecost.  In Acts 2 at Pentecost  Peter spoke boldly to the crowd teaching and preaching.  He explained the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and told the people what to do to be saved.  On that day the Holy Spirit was poured out on the people and 3,000 were saved.  It was the beginning of the Christ's Church. 

Have you confessed Christ as Savior?
Do you have assurance that you died with Christ and He carried your sins in your place?

Matthew 21-28 - Jesus Predicts His Death

From that time on Jesus starts to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer on the cross, but that He will be raised on the third day.  Peter said, "Never, Lord!...This shall never happen to you!" - Matt. 16:22.  Jesus said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." - Matt. 16:22-23.  Peter didn't want His beloved friend to die and suffer.  He was thinking selfishly.  He wasn't thinking of God's purpose that Jesus was sent to earth to save the people from their sins.  He was yielding to his emotions and reasoning like that of Satan.  According to Jesus when you reject or ignore the cross, Satan is using your mind and tongue (Matt. 16:23).

How do you selfishly reject or ignore the cross?
Are a stumbling block to the work of Christ?
Do your words and actions point others the Christ?

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" - Matt. 16:24-26.  To deny yourself and take up your cross means that you share His rejection by the world.  You yield to God and what He stands for even if it involves suffering and humiliation.  It means giving your life in sacrifice for others.  When you come to the cross for salvation and follow Jesus, you cannot avoid "losing your life".  To lose your life means to die to your sin, your wants and desires, and surrender to Jesus.  Then you will live to do what He desires.  Jesus promises eternal life to all who lose their lives for Him.  You can gain what pleasures the world has to offer, but when you die they will mean nothing.  You can't take it with you.  Only faith, hope and love will survive.  Jesus gave His disciples glorious hope in Matt. 16:27-28 - "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.  I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom." 

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." - John 14:2-3.

Matt. 16:28 is hard to understand just what Jesus is talking about.  If you read the next to verses in the next chapter, you see He was talking to Peter, James, and John.  They witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus.  So I think Matt. 16:28 is referring to the future event of the transfiguration.

How can you deny yourself ant take up your cross?
Do you sacrifice for others?
Are you ready for Jesus to return?
If not, will you repent right now and ask Him into your heart?

Great lesson!  Thanks be to God!!  See you next week for Matthew 17.

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