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Chapter 16

 

Sign Seeking

16:1 Now when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.

 

The Pharisees and Sadducees were so opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ that they continually baited him even though they were not really interested in hearing his response. There are those today who will seek to waste our time in the same way. Not content with all the miracles that he had done and which they obviously did not think came from heaven they had the audacity to ask him for another sign!

 

16:2-3 He said, "When evening comes you say, 'It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.' You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times.

 

We are all familiar with the kind of answer that Jesus gave and have most probably used similar expressions ourselves. The Pharisees knew how to read the signs in the sky concerning the weather. In the United Kingdom we say, "Red sky at night shepherds delight, red sky in the morning shepherds warning". But they had so blinded themselves with unbelief that they could not see the fulfilment of the signs predicted in the Old Testament that were happening before their eyes.

 

16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah." Then he left them and went away.

Jesus tells them that only those that have evil designs and are unfaithful to God ask for signs. The only sign they would receive is that which was given through the prophet Jonah (Matt. 12:40; Jonah 3:4-5); that Jesus would die and rise again.

 

A Lack of Understanding

16:5 When the disciples went to the other side, they forgot to take bread.

 

As they went on their way in the boat to Magdala the disciples suddenly realised that they had forgotten to bring any food with them.

 

16:6 "Watch out," Jesus said to them, "beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

 

While they were talking about this, Jesus warned them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

 

16:7 So they began to discuss this among themselves, saying, "It is because we brought no bread."

 

Because their minds were so full of feeding their stomachs they misunderstood him and thought that he said this because they had forgotten to bring any food.

 

16:8 When Jesus learned of this, he said, "You who have such little faith! Why are you arguing among yourselves about having no bread?

 

Jesus knew what they were discussing among themselves and rebuked them for their incredibly small faith; arguing about having no bread!  Most probably blaming they were each other for forgetting it.

 

16:9-10 Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand and how many baskets you took up?

 

What was so incredible was that they had witnessed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand and four thousand and yet they could not believe that if necessary they could be fed again in the same way.  Had they not collected twelve and seven baskets of leftovers?

 

16:11 How could you not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!"

 

How could they fail to understand that he was not talking about bread to eat but warning them about the corrupt teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees?

 

16:12 Then they understood that he had not told them to be on guard against the yeast in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

 

At last the penny dropped, and the truth dawned that he was warning them against the deceptive teaching of the religious leaders.

 

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

16:13 When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

 

As they came into the region of Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked his disciples who the people believed him to be.

 

16:14 They answered, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

 

They told him that some believed that he was John the Baptist, others that he was the prophet Elijah or Jeremiah, still others that he must be one of the other prophets of the past.

 

16:15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

 

Jesus did not ask this for his own benefit but that he may bring them to answer this leading question. They had been with him some time now and had heard his teachings and seen the mighty things he had done so he asks, "Who do you say I am"

 

16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

 

It was Simon Peter who was the first to speak up and confess that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.

 

16:17 And Jesus answered him, "You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!

 

Peter did not receive this revelation by his own ability or from any man but directly from God the Father.

 

16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

 

This verse is often misunderstood and in some Christian circles purposely so. A careful study of the words that Jesus used shows clearly that he did not say that his church would be built upon Peter. The name that Jesus gave to Simon is "petros" meaning a small rock and indeed Peter proved to be a steadfast rock in the early church. The word that Jesus used, however, when he said he would build his church is "petra", a large rock. Jesus Christ is the rock (1 Cor. 10:4). Peter called Jesus the "living stone" and the "chief corner stone" (1 Peter 2:4-6). Paul speaks of Jesus Christ as the foundation that the church is built on (1 Cor. 3:11; Rom. 9:33). It is because Christ builds his church that the gates of hell shall not overpower it.

 

16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven."

 

The keys of the kingdom of heaven were to be employed by preaching the gospel in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, with the authority and power that is invested in him. In his name not only Peter but all who are Christ's can bind things on earth and they shall be bound in heaven and whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

 

16:20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

 

Having said this Jesus instructs his disciples not to tell anyone at that time that he was the Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

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This Bible study is taken from Faithbuilders: The Gospel of Matthew

 

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