"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Matthew 16:1-20 -- Who is Jesus? and some more stuff

 Matthew 16 begins with the Pharisees and Sadducees testing Jesus by asking for a sign from heaven.  Apparently the miracles they'd seen and heard of were not convincing enough.  Jesus replied that they could tell from the sky whether the day would be pleasant or stormy, but could not discern the signs of the times. (Does this mean it was time for the Messiah's arrival?)  He refused to do a miracle at their request and said the only sign would be that of the prophet Jonah which Matthew 12 told us was

40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

basically a foretelling of Jesus' burial after his crucifixion and prior to the resurrection.

Next Jesus and the disciples were crossing the lake and Jesus made a statement about avoiding the yeast or leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  The disciples had forgotten to bring bread so they asked themselves if Jesus were referring to the fact that there was not much food on board the boat.  As if Jesus who had recently fed thousands of people with a few fish and few loaves of bread would be troubled with this!  Jesus says as much and informs them that he is warning against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Just as a little yeast expands the whole loaf of bread, a little sin, a bit of false doctrine, a smidgen of error could grow and pollute greatly. 

Anyone else ever notice how Jesus would often be talking on a spiritual plane while those on the receiving end of his words were thinking of more literal, physical aspects?  Such as Jesus,
when he had been speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well about spiritual matters, telling his disciples "I have food that you don't know about" meaning spiritual food and being about his Father's business.  Yet they were questioning themselves to see if perhaps someone had brought bread or fish or a McDonald's Happy Meal to their teacher.

After this Jesus turned to his disciples with a question about who people said that he was. They answered that some said he was John the Baptist (Herod also thought John had been resurrected when he heard of Jesus' ministry and miracles) while others thought Jesus was Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.  (Did the people truly believe one of their prophets from hundreds of years ago would come back in their time? Or do you think this means Jesus was like Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the now-deceased prophets in his teachings or mannerisms?)

Enough with what the people thought. What did Jesus' closest followers think? 
15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

OK, that's quite a step up from Elijah, Jeremiah or even John the Baptist, isn't it?  "The Christ" is the Jewish Messiah. (Christ is from the Greek word translated Messiah - Anointed One - in Hebrew.)  The one many thought would come to deliver the Jews from the oppressive Roman nation that was occupying their land.  They had visions of a rising star - a warrior, a military man like their hero King David who lead many national victories during his lifetime.

 17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.19I 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." 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.


1. I like that Jesus affirmed that our recognizing him as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" was a result of God revealing it to our hearts. It's not something we can logically convince people to accept and believe. 

2.  Amber can probably better explain, but this passage about Jesus building his church on Peter is where the Catholic church's thoughts on Peter being the first pope come from.  Hopefully I didn't just totally mess all that up. I'll defer to my Catholic comrade for further explanation on that.

3.  I think this is the first mention of the church.  For you Muslims don't think of a local assembly like a mosque, but the ummah. The universal church which includes all who follow Jesus.

4.  I wonder why Jesus would not want his disciples to tell others that he is the Christ.  Well, I guess it's something God had to reveal to them.  At least the Messiah type that Jesus is.  Obviously he was no conquering military guy, but a savior of a different sort.  Kind of like Jesus thought and spoke and taught on a spiritual plane, he also saved on a spiritual level. No deliverance from political enemies for the Jews, but something far more eternal.  Peace with God and all that.  Much much better in the long run.

Now, what are YOUR thoughts,questions and comments? Please add whatever you like.


Amber said...

Did the people truly believe one of their prophets from hundreds of years ago would come back in their time? Or do you think this means Jesus was like Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the now-deceased prophets in his teachings or mannerisms?

I think there's a prophecy that Elijah will return before the coming of the Messiah in... Malachi? Anyway. I believe that the traditional Jewish belief was that Elijah himself would return (especially since he doesn't appear to have ever actually died, just been removed from earth to heaven), however, it turns out that it was the 'spirit' of Elijah as represented in St. John the Forerunner.

#2: It's one of the passages, yes.

Susanne said...

Thanks for the info, Amber! That's what I understood as well, but like hearing it verified. :)

elizabeth taylor said...

Nice post, Susanne!

Isn't Elijah one of the prophets from Revelation? along with Moses

Regarding #2 -- "I like that Jesus affirmed that our recognizing him as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" was a result of God revealing it to our hearts. It's not something we can logically convince people to accept and believe."

Very true. I've heard this discussed as the concept of "prevenient Grace", which means that before any of us come to a "saving knowledge" of Jesus Christ, God first opens our hearts to receive Him.
Some (not saying you :-) do take this too far and get into Predestination or Calvinism.

I don't know where the lines are drawn on that debate (and didn't mean to bring it up!!) but can say that going too far either way (Free Will vs. Predestination) is probably not where we ought to be.

Paul "reasoned" in the synagogues and temples and Peter tells us to "Always be prepared to give an answer for the reason for the hope that you have" Never can be quite sure what excitement God has planned for us/others!

BTW - I have to get a new Quran. The one have has way too much commentary.

Susanne said...

Elizabeth, it's always nice reading your points of view. Thank you for sharing. :) I see Ahmed enjoyed dialoguing with you as well. You do have a kind way of saying things!

I used a Quran that I got from my local library. It was pretty good as it didn't have a lot of commentary and was fairly contemporary language.

It's this one:


I did start with another translation, but changed to this one when I decided reading the Quran online was hard. My library only had this one so I gladly switched. I had enough people commenting on my posts to make it all of great interest to me.

Here is my first post on it. You will see MANY more if you want to look at some of them as you read on your own.


Thanks again for dropping by!

elizabeth taylor said...

Great idea, Susanne. I'm going to the library today to see if I can find the copy you suggested.

Looking forward to reading your the posts and the comments!

Susanne said...

Elizabeth, hope you find one that has less commentary anyway. My library didn't have much of a selection, but I live in a rather small area. :)

BTW, meant to comment on your comment, but I was too tired last night.

Yes, the Bible teaches we are spiritually blind and God is the one who gives us life. I struggle with the balance between that and free will. I have Calvinist friends, but I cannot seem to accept that God selected some folks to be damned when HE is the one who purposefully caused them to be blind to the truth. Especially when I see how He mourns for Israel doing the same thing, practically "begging" them to return and then saying how He blinded their eyes and hearts. It's a bit weird sometimes the way I try to figure it out in my mind. I guess there is a happy medium that I'm trying to find. :)

Yes, you're right that it IS exciting to see what God has in store for people. Great reminder!

Have a good weekend. :)