Beware of the false teaching of Religious leaders: 16:1-12.
(Read Matt 16:1-12)
The Pharisees and Sadducees requested a sign from Jesus in order to test him. Knowing their motivation, Jesus refused their request (Matt 16:1-4). Miracles are performed not to save souls but to authenticate the gospel. The unbelieving generation seeks sign and miracles. Sinners are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said “No sign will be given except the sign of Jonah”. It was a reference to Jesus’ resurrection. It gives hope to believers but warns unbelievers of the coming judgment (Matt 12:38-40). Jesus warned the disciples against the false teachers. They initially misunderstood the meaning of what Jesus says (Matt 16:5-11). Jesus graciously helped them to understand the spiritual meaning of what he said. Jesus is not merely able to provide food for our physical body but also able to meet our spiritual needs. Any teaching that threatens the identity and greatness of Christ must be rejected.
Peter’s Confession about Jesus: 16:13-20.
(Read Matt 16:13-20)
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples “Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?” This was a place in the extreme northeast of Galilee, near the source of river Jordan. People esteems Jesus by identifying him with John the Baptist (Matt 14:2), Elijah, Jeremiah or the other Prophet (Malachi 4:5; Deut 18:15). Peter recognized Jesus and said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). This is an insight that he received from the the Father himself. (Matt 16:17). Jesus strictly ordered the disciples not to reveal his identity to others. He said to Peter “You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church and the gate of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:18-19). This is a misunderstood passage among many Christians. The rock is a reference to Peter’s faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church (1 Cor 3:11). The church is built upon the doctrines of the apostles (Eph 2:20). Peter means “stone”. The church is the called-out people of believers and not a hierarchical system. Jesus continues to build the church. The powers of hell shall not conquer it. The key of the kingdom of heaven is the preaching of the gospel. Those who receive the gospel will enter the kingdom of God. On the day of Pentecost, Peter opened this door and three thousand people were added to the church (Acts 2:14-40). “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. This simply means that all that God wants to do from heaven, now He does through the church. He gave the key of the gospel to unlock the kingdom of heaven to those who believe. Someone has said “As we act in harmony and dependence on Christ, the blessings of heaven are either released or bound on earth and the purpose of God will be achieved. We cannot know the things of God unless it is revealed to us through his word.
Jesus Predicts His Death: 16:21-28.
(Read Matt 16:21-28)
Jesus predicted his rejection, crucifixion and his resurrection to his disciples. He wanted to prepare them for the suffering awaiting Him. Jesus was aware of his earthly mission and destiny. From human perspective Jesus’ death seems like utter foolishness but to those who are saved it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18). Peter knew that Jesus is the Messiah but he could not understand why he had to die to save his people. So, Peter took Jesus aside and said “Lord, this shall never happen to you”. Jesus 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” (Matt 16:23). Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me". To follow Jesus, one should reject the values and goals of the sinful world and seek the will of God. He should put the will and purpose of God above his own interests. We must also take up our own cross. This speaks of dying to our own selfish ambition and comforts. To follow Jesus means, to live in step with Jesus in obedience (Luke 9:23). It is a life of living by trusting in the son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:19-20). They will have the foretaste of heavenly joy and peace now. They will experience the fullness of blessings at the return of Christ. Someone has said “A Christianity that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing”. The discipleship may seem disgraceful at times but its destiny is not shame but honor and glory. Pray for protection against loving and assimilating to this world system.