Let us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 15.
Today, we will begin with another confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees, then we’ll turn our attention to Peter’s confession of Jesus. This marks a shift in Jesus’ teaching where He begins to prepare His disciples for what will take place at the cross.
Matt 16:1-4 (ESV) | The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs
1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came not to listen to His teaching, or to follow Him as a disciple, but to test Him. They asked Him for a sign from heaven. Jesus’ response is very interesting here. Jesus’ ministry has been filled with signs and wonders testifying of Who He Is, yet these unbelievers seek to test Jesus in much the same way that Satan tempted Him in the wilderness to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. Jesus’ response is essentially, you’ve ignored the signs of the times; therefore none will be given to this wicked and adulterous generation except the sign of Jonah. The death and resurrection of Jesus is THE SIGN for the unbelieving, evil, and adulterous generation of who Jesus Is. This is why we preach Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sin.
Matt 16:5-12 (ESV) | The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees
5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
I love this passage. I mean, I am one of those guys assuming Jesus is reprimanding me because I forgot something… while He is trying to teach me something vital. I can’t help but imagine hearing the exasperation in Jesus’s voice… in my head it comes across as a, “really, guys? really?… after all you’ve seen Me do regarding bread?” That’s just how it plays in my head as I read it. I am so grateful that Jesus took the time to point out the error. The teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees was leaven in the Kingdom. They preached their own laws as if they were Doctrine.
Matt 16:13-22 (ESV) | Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Such a beautiful confession… and one that can only come by God the Father in Heaven. It is upon this confession of the Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, that Jesus is building His Church. I’d like to take a brief moment to highlight verse 20. This is an example of a narrative passage that is locked into its context. What is the context? Jesus had not yet been crucified, for His time had not yet come, and He charged His Disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ. Why? I cannot say definitively because Matthew didn’t explain it. However, since we know that the confession of Jesus as the Christ is the Gospel, we know that once He finished His work on the Cross, the time for this charge was over and it was time to serve as witnesses of the Christ, as His Apostles. We can also gain some clues in the following segment.
Matt 16:21-23 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Peter was correct in his confession of Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God. However, what Matthew shows us here is that they did not fully understand what was prophesied of the Christ. Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for what had to happen… and Jesus didn’t pull any punches in His rebuke of Peter. If the disciples who had walked with Jesus didn’t fully grasp what was prophesied of Him, no one would.
Matt 16:24-28 (ESV) | Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
This is how Jesus follows up His rebuke of Peter. Peter’s mind was set on the things of man, he didn’t want to see Jesus suffer and die at the hands of the chief priests and scribes. I can imagine this thought being so painful and vexing to Peter that he didn’t even register the thought of being raised on the third day. Not only did Jesus insist that this was what must happen, He also warned that the same would happen to most of the disciples. Following Jesus necessitates self-denial, from beginning to the end, and the disciples needed to learn this lesson. We know it took time for them to understand… and our Merciful Shepherd took the time after His resurrection to teach them before He ascended to the right hand of the Father. Jesus is going to come to judge the living and the dead, and to take us home. Amen.
Until Next Week
Next week we’ll be working through some tough passages. I’ll do my best to convey a faithful understanding of what is being presented to us in Matthews Account of the Gospel. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,