Matthew 16:1-12 – The arrogance that God is seeking to break is evident in this encounter with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Here we see two groups that were traditionally at odds with each other united in their opposition to Jesus. The Sadducees were the aristocrats, the elite. They were of priestly descent from the tribe of Levi and the sons of Kohath. They operated the concessions surrounding the ministry of the Temple at a prophet for themselves, such as the buying and selling of the sacrificial animals and the changing of money.
They were worldly and as such, their hope for the most part was in this world. They denied that there was a resurrection of the dead. The Pharisee on the other hand were from the working class and dealt with the people. They were the fundamentalists of their day, but their traditions were more important to them. The Sadducees were more interested in their political connections and running the country. In order to do that they had to serve Rome, and this made them compromise all the more.
This most interesting in the light that the Pharisees were the descendants of the Hasmonean who fought for against Hellenism. In Acts 23:6-9 we see the hostility between the two camps illustrated. Jesus was a threat to the Pharisees and Sadducees, so in order to try and undermine his credibility they ask for a sign from heaven. It was believed that demons could perform earthly miracles and signs, such as the priests of Pharaoh’s court (Exodus 7:10-12).
So hoping to prove that he was not the promised Messiah they ask Him for a sign in the heavens. Like Pharaoh and his servants, the more they learn of God and his miraculous signs, their hearts became even more hardened. Knowing that, Jesus observes that they can discern the sky for signs of weather, but they can’t discern the spiritual things that they claim to be authorities of the Scriptures yet they missed what all the law and the prophets spoke of, the promised Messiah, the hope of Israel.
They failed to discern the signs of the times, but those words are equally relevant today. (Matthew 24:3) “And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” One of the greatest signs of the times is the regathering of the Jewish people to the land of Israel (Ezekiel 36-37).
This is the second time that Jesus talks about the only sign that was going to be given to the Pharisees and Sadducees would be the sign of Jonah. In saying this he verified the reality of Jonah’s experience, that it was not just a story but fact. The sign of Jonah was not believed by the leadership of the Jewish people. The sign was that Jesus would be in the ground 3 days and nights the length of time that Jonah was in the whale. (Jonah 1:17)
Luke 16:31 – It is important to note that according to some statisticians there were over one million Jewish people who came to faith in Jesus in the 1st century. This demonstrates that while it is true that the leadership of the Jewish people rejected Jesus, the multitude did not. Jesus went again back to the eastern and predominantly Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. And when He and the disciples arrived there the Disciples realized in their haste to get away from the pressure of the Pharisees and Sadducees they forgot to buy and bring bread.
They began to worry about food once again. It is amazing how much like Israel the disciples were, and I might add so are we. We forget how God has provided for us in the past and so are not prepared to believe He can provide for us in the present. Elijah was like that right after the confrontation with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18-19). Jesus knowing their thoughts told them to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees.
All the disciples heard was “leaven”, because they thought he was talking to them about their failure to bring bread. They had their eyes on the problem rather than the Lord. Jesus rebuked them for looking only at the material rather than the spiritual. “you men of little faith”. In essence Jesus is saying If we need bread, I will provide it. Have you forgotten the past provision with the 5,000 and the 4,000?
In Matthew 16:8 Jesus repeats the warning to beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees. Leaven is yeast which has the ability to permeate bread dough to make it rise. In much the same way the teaching of religious tradition has a way of permeating our lives so that we can not walk the simple life of faith. When the Jewish people left Egypt they were told not to bring any leaven. In essence God was saying leave behind the permeating influences of Egypt, so that they may not enter into the land of promise with you.
The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy (Luke 12:1) … He began saying to His disciples first of all,” Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” The leaven of the Sadducees was worldliness and failure to believe God’s Word. They then understood that Jesus was not talking about bread but of the teachings of the Sadducees and Pharisees.
Matthew 16:13-17 – Jesus is now at Caesarea Philippi, which today is called the Banyas. According to Roman mythology the god Pan was born in a cave near here. The region was given to Herod’s son Philip who built a large city with a Temple to the gods and named in honor of Caesar and himself. The city was in the shadow of Mt. Hermon which is the largest mountain in the area, this area is part of the Golan Heights. We now come to the most important point in the ministry of the King of Israel.
It is the comprehension and confession of who Jesus is. It is the most important question we must face whether we are Jewish or Gentile, what do you say of Jesus? Who is He? All the miracles, healings and teachings point to the answer of this question. Son of Man – This is an allusion to his connection with humanity. It is a title of the Messiah from (Daniel 7:13).
There are four different Hebrew words for “man” in the Hebrew the first is Adam as used in Genesis 2:7. It comes from the Hebrew root which means red or ruddy. Adamah is the word for earth which comes from the redish color of the earth. Edom is a form of this root, this was the land that was know for its red color, where Esau settled. When man is referred to in the Older Testament as Adam it is in relation to his connection to being created from the dust of the earth.
Hence the expression “son of man” used by Ezekiel, and later by Jesus to allude to the connection with Adam. Jesus, while sent from heaven taught His disciples that His birth connected Him to Adam. When he asked his disciples who do people say “the son of man is”, he wanted to see how his disciples perspective differed from the multitude.
Some say John the Baptist, this was the fear of Herod the tetrarch earlier in Matthew 14. This was because the multitudes that John truly was a prophet sent of God. Others believed that Jesus was Elijah, the prophet who would herald the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 3:1,4:5).
Jeremiah the prophet, was another great prophet expected him because of his association with the Maccabees who overthrew the Hellenistic movement led by Antiochus. Jeremiah in the Apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees handed a sword to defeat the Syrians. These times were similar to that time because once again Israel was oppressed by a government who ideally wanted them to assimilate. Still others thought of him as one of the prophets raised from the dead.
Then Jesus asked his disciples after hearing what the multitudes thought of Him, who do you say that I am? Peter responded with the answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It has been close to two and half years of walking with Him to come to this point.
The confession “Son of the Living God” denotes a unique connection to God. That Jesus was in very essence of God. Jesus’ response to Peter’s question is to declare him blessed, because only God can reveal this important to truth to mankind (Matthew 16:17). It is not revealed by the will of man. (John 1:12-13)
Matthew 16:18-20 – Upon Peter’s confession of faith Jesus explains the nature of His church. The Roman Catholic church has interpreted this passage to mean that the church was built upon Peter, not what he said, but who Peter is. It is their belief that he was the first pope, in Latin, papa, from the Greek pappas, meaning “father,” an ecclesiastical title expressing affection and respect and, since the 8th century, recognized in the West as belonging exclusively to the bishop of Rome, head of the Roman Catholic church.
Besides the designation pope, the head of the Roman Catholic church also holds these titles: the vicar of Christ; successor of Saint Peter; supreme pontiff of the universal church. When the pope speaks in his official capacity according to Catholic faith, he is said to speak with divine authority equal to that of God and Scripture. This teaching goes against what is revealed in Scripture. That Jesus alone is the foundation and head of the church.
The name Peter is from the Greek word petros, which means stone. The Greek word for rock is Petra, which means a rocky mountain or peak. The present Jordanian city of Petra gets its name from that word. What Jesus was saying, I believe, was that Peter, was a small stone, someone who was of no significance to the religious leaders of Israel. But that his confession and faith that Jesus was the promised Messiah, was a rock foundation, upon which all who came to faith would be made a part of the Body of Messiah or the church.
In fact it is Peter’s confession and testimony in Acts 2 that stirs both Jews and Gentile to respond to God and believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Jesus is the builder of His church, not any man. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11), (Ephesians 2:20).
The word church in Greek is ecclesia and means literally “the called out ones,” it is a reference to those who have been called to assemble. The Hebrew word qahal or kol is translated “assembly, community, or congregation.”
The gates of hell or hades is a reference to the banyas at Caesarea Phillipi. This was a shrine to the mythological god Pan and was known as the gates of hades. Hades was the god of the underworld and ruled over death. What Jesus was saying was that death will never prevail or has any power over the called out ones. (Romans 8:2), (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
When Jesus spoke of Peter receiving the keys of the kingdom, he was addressing Peter as representative of the twelve, after his resurrection he told the disciples that””If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.””
This kind of discipline was to come from all the disciples of Jesus. This kind of authority was not given to just one man but to the entire Body of believers. Discipline is not the sole responsibility of Peter or his supposed successors. It is the job of every believer. Scripture says we are a royal priesthood, (1 Peter 2:9); and the Lord is our High priest. The duty of discipline falls to each believer under the guidelines of Matthew 18.
We even learn about Peter being so disciplined by Paul:(Galatians 2:11-14).
Discipline is to come when a fellow believer does not live his life according to the Word. This is our responsibility to those who claim to be a part of the Body. Matthew 16:20-23 Then He warned His disciples not to reveal that He was the Messiah. As we will see, the expectation of Messiah’s coming was to bring to Israel a political and military power that would exalt Israel and her God in the pagan world. However this is not why Jesus came.
His kingdom is not of this world. He came to bring redemption from sin and the bondage that it brings and to lead Israel to a Kingdom where He would be King. A spiritual kingdom of first the heart, and then at the fullness of time a material or worldwide millennial kingdom. In order to help his disciples understand this, He began to explain to them the nature of His program of redemption. In order to accomplish this he was to be a ransom, literally a payment for many (Matthew 20:28).
His death would take the place of many deaths, for only his death could truly atone for sin. His blood would take away our sin (Hebrews 9:22). In order to accomplish this Jesus had to go to Jerusalem this is where the Temple was located and the place where the Lambs were brought for sacrifice. Secondly he had to suffer many things from the elders of Israel, the priests whose leadership came from the Sadducees, and from the Scribes who were made up primarily of the pharisees.
Thirdly He had to be killed, not murdered, but killed. Just as the Passover lamb of Exodus 12 was killed. Jesus laid down his life. No man took it (John 10:17-18). The fourth thing that Jesus had to do was to be raised from the dead on the third day. The first three musts of Jesus mission to Jerusalem had so overwhelmed his disciples that they either did not hear or did not understand the ramifications of the promised resurrection.
Matthew 16:22 Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes the Lord. It is worthwhile to note that the humility, gentleness, and friendship that Jesus had with His disciples are demonstrated here by Peter feeling free enough to take his friend aside and say to Him that He must not think like this. God had so graciously veiled His glory that Peter at this moment saw Jesus as a great human deliverer, not The Great Deliverer. Peter’s rebuke was one concerned with a worldly plan of deliverance for Israel, Not God’s plan.
Peter now goes from the great confessor to the devil incarnate. How quickly things can change in our relationship with God. One minute we are on the mountain top and the next we are walking with the devil. What a rebuke by Jesus of Peter! The rebuke is almost identical to the rebuke of Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:10). Now Satan is present in Peter offering to spare Him of any suffering. The Cross is foolishness to men and a stumbling block to the Jewish people (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23). Peter was not espousing God’s program but man’s program for redemption. God’s ways are not man’s ways. (Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 55:8).
Matthew 16:24-26 – The cost of discipleship is your life. We live in a time when Christianity espouses a gospel that contradicts this teaching. We are so busy trying to keep our lives. Self-esteem, self worth, self-image, self-love, all of these emphasis keep us from dying and prevent us from discovering real life. This statement follows on the heels of Jesus declaring His path to Jerusalem that included his crucifixion. Peter opposed such a plan because the plan of God was the opposite of what man perceives as godly.
The self that needs to die here is not our personal identity but rather the rebellious, self-serving self. The one that wants its own will rather than God’s (Ephesians 4:22-24). It is to agree with Paul (Romans 7:18). To deny self is to subject oneself entirely to the lordship and resources of our Messiah and King (Philippians 3:3). This is what it is to be poor in Spirit, one of the laws of the Kingdom brought to us by the King. The word in the Greek poor means to “shrink, cower, or cringe”, as beggars often did in that day. They would with one hand beg for money and with other hide their face. On the other hand a different Greek word is used for poverty.
Jesus is not speaking here of material poverty but rather of the state of the spirit. To be poor in spirit is to recognize one’s spiritual poverty in relation to the holiness of God and His expectations. It is to recognize how lost, and unrighteous we really are. To understand this is to truly know and experience God’s grace. In order to truly be fruitful and happy we have to know our own spiritual state. Being poor in spirit is foundational to everything else in the kingdom of God.
The church at Laodicea fell because of their arrogance (Revelation 3:17). Naaman was not healed until he was willing to humble himself (2 Kings 5). Humility begins when we recognize ourselves for who we really are. Not putting ourselves down but knowing ourselves for the fallen men and women that we are. Rather than thriving or looking for compliments we should be careful to rightly appraise them. Humility will come to us if we ask God to give it to us (Psalm 51:10).
How can I tell if I am humble or poor in spirit? Ask yourself these questions. Am I concerned primarily with myself? Or is Yeshua and His will, most important to me (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:21). Do I find myself complaining about my circumstances? If I am then I have forgotten what I really deserve. Do I consider others as more important that ourselves? (Philippians 2:3) Real humility allows me to truly see that. How is my prayer life? Real humility recognizes the need to seek what we really need from God. Do I have an attitude of praise and Thanksgiving for all things? A person who is truly poor in spirit is thankful for any favor. (Psalm 34:18; 51:17).
Matthew 16:27– Jesus speaks to His disciples assuring them that just as Daniel had prophesied in Daniel 7, the Son of Man is going to come in all of His glory. This is the glory that will be present when the Messiah does establish his kingdom. Remember this is following His rebuke of Peter who didn’t want Jesus to suffer and die. These words are given to assure them that the time is coming when He shall return in glory. First would come humility, then would follow glory. It is at that time that the process of judgment will begin for all of mankind. There are actually 6 judgments spoken of in Scripture:
1) Judgment of Sin which occurred at the Cross.
3) The Judgment of the Jewish people (Ezekiel 20:37-38;Malachi 3:2-3). After this judgment in which God separates the unrighteous among the Jewish people which will occur during the great tribulation, then the remnant will be saved. (Romans 11:26-27).
4) The Judgment of the Gentiles – These are nations that are in existence at the end of the great tribulation. The judgment will be an individual one but nation by nation. (Joel 3:1-2). See also Matthew 25:31 where Jesus judges the nations based on the treatment of His “brethren”. The brethren are probably the 144,000 Jewish witnesses among the nations during the tribulation. Rahab treating the spies is an indication of blessing for the treatment of Israel.
6) The Great White Throne Judgment – This occurs at the end of the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:12-13) This judgment occurs somewhere between heaven and earth Matthew 16:11. This is for those who are not believers who were resurrected at the rapture. The result of this judgment is found in (Revelation 20:15).
Matthew 16:28 – This verse is speaks of the transfiguration which follows immediately. It will be upon the Mt. where three of the disciples will see the King in His glory.