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This is a chronologically-ordered Bible site with commentary on each passage.
The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the March 18 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: March 18
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For New King James text and comment, click here.

Matthew 16:1-17:9; Mark 8:10-9:10; Luke 9:18-36     Listen Podcast

 

In these passages, we note the following in Jesus' ministry:

 

 

Sadducees and Pharisees - very religious, but very corrupt (Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:10-12)

Matthew 16
Mark 8
1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.
11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.
12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

This episode takes place while they are still in Northern Israel, presumably around the Sea of Galilee, although the two places mentioned by name (Magdala/Magadan, Matthew 15:39 (see notes) or Dalmanutha, Mark 8:10) are today unknown locations. When these Sadducees and Pharisees, who were leaders in religion among the populace, come to Jesus insincerely seeking a sign, he addresses these very religious men as hypocrites, and then characterizes their request when he says in Matthew 16:4, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." Jesus is making reference to his words on an earlier occasion back in Matthew 12:38-42 (see notes). Both there and in this passage, Jesus is declaring that his resurrection will serve as the only sign they will see.

Another lesson on leaven (Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:13-21)

Matthew 16
Mark 8
5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.
15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.
17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?
18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.
21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

Jesus, as he talks with his disciples after the incident with the religionists in the preceding verses, compares them to leaven in the following context: Leaven (yeast) grows until everything it contacts is affected by the leaven. Likewise, these religious leaders had spread their corrupt doctrine to the point that it had permeated the thinking of the Jewish people. It is interesting that Matthew recalls specifically that Jesus mentioned the Sadducees in the same context with the Pharisees, but Mark mentions Herod. Certainly Jesus lumps all three into the same religious-but-lost category. By the time Jesus would be crucified, the leaven (corruption) of the Sadducees, Pharisees and Herod would develop into an angry mob ready to crucify the Messiah. If you thought, as many do, that "All religions are good if you are sincere," this encounter between Jesus and these very religious men should cause you to reassess your position.

These verses make it apparent that the disciples had a tough time transitioning between physical and spiritual applications. Jesus perceived that they thought perhaps Jesus' remarks had something to do with the fact that they were hungry and had a food shortage - thus the reference to the two miraculous multi-thousand feedings on a shoe-string budget. Jesus clarifies that the growing-leaven analogy speaks to the spreading corruptness of these God-rejecting religionists.

Jesus heals a blind man (Mark 8:22-26)

Mark 8
22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

Bethsaida is located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel. Jesus demonstrates his power over blindness. Only Mark records this particular healing. There are a couple of interesting aspects to this account: First of all, Jesus met the man in Bethsaida, but led him out of town to perform the healing. Subsequently, he told him not to go back into town, but to return to his own home. Since a vital aspect of Jesus' earthly ministry was to be fulfilled in his crucifixion on Passover Day after a three-plus year ministry, Jesus took measures along the way to control the hype (so to speak) over miracles such as this one. Secondly, it is interesting that, after Jesus' first action in the process of healing the man, the man sees, but not clearly. However, part two of the healing process restores the man's eyesight completely. Many over the years have conjectured as to why Jesus healed this man in two phases, but Mark simply doesn't elaborate. There is simply no way of knowing from scripture why the healing was performed in this fashion.

Peter experiences a defining moment (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21)

Matthew 16
Mark 8
Luke 9
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.
29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
19 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.
20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;

Jesus and his disciples are in northern Israel around Caesarea Phillipi, about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It's a simple question that Jesus asks, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Matthew gives this occasion twice as much attention as Mark or Luke. When Jesus gets an assortment of answers from the disciples, he follows up with another question, "But whom say ye that I am?" Peter wastes no time with his reply, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." That's all that Mark and Luke report of the occasion. At that time, Jesus made some significant observations about Peter's confession which are reported only by Matthew. Keep in mind, of the three writers, Matthew is the only one who was a first-hand witness of this dialogue (see "Introduction to the Gospels).

Notice what Jesus says about Peter's insight and future role as a result of his insightful reply in Matthew 16:17-19:

So, what is this that Christ has promised Peter. It is impossible to say with absolute certainty, but it would appear that Peter's actions in the Book of Acts were empowered as a result of this declaration by Jesus. Specifically, when the Jews received the Word along with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2, see notes), who moderated? And when the Samaritans (half-breed Jews) received the same for the first time in Acts 8:9-25 (see notes), who was summoned to moderate? And when the Gentiles, in Acts 10:24-48 (see notes), likewise, received the Word along with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, who also moderated that event? If you said Peter in answer to all three questions, you are correct. It appears that on all three occasions Peter was exercising the "keys" which had been presented to him in this passage of scripture. As a result, three separate categories of people, Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles (that's everybody) were formally inducted into the newly-founded church, the Body of Christ. Those are some pretty powerful keys, wouldn't you say? There can be no question; Peter was set apart for special service on this occasion.

Some have suggested that Jesus was speaking collectively to all of the disciples when he made these statements. In other words, they claim that Jesus was designating apostolic authority here. However, the Greek wording is very clear here. While in English usage "you" or "thee" can be used as either a singular or plural second person pronoun, not so in Greek. All references in verses 17-19 using the second person personal pronoun are singular and refer only to Peter and Peter alone. The same is the case with the person and number of the Greek verbs used in those verses. Therefore, this was not a general commissioning to all of the disciples, but comments directed only to Peter, distinct from other general commissioning statements elsewhere directed to all of the Apostles. That much is certain.

Incidentally, for those who might wonder, this conversation between Jesus and his disciples obviously took place in Greek, not Aramaic or Hebrew. The special play on words between the Greek name assigned to Peter ("petros") and its similarity to the Greek word for "rock" ("petra") is key in Matthew 16:18, "That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." The differentiation of this sentence would have made no sense spoken in Aramaic or Hebrew. The "rock" (Greek: "petra") is not Peter himself, but rather the revelation given by Peter in verse 16, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." However, it should be noted that Peter's Greek name ("Petros") is a translation from the equivalent Aramaic word for "rock" as is seen in John 1:42 when Jesus says to him, "Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone." However, the difference between the proper masculine Greek name ("Petros") and the feminine word for rock ("petra") is only a relational play on words in the Greek language. If such a play on words had been spoken between Jesus and Peter in Aramaic, Matthew surely would have given us the Aramaic equivalents in this passage.

Is Peter really Satan? (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33; Luke 9:22)

Matthew 16
Mark 8
Luke 9
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

Peter obviously did not understand the whole plan at this point. He was good with the ministry aspect of Jesus, but could not comprehend the necessity of the crucifixion being presented here by Jesus. Of course Jesus understood his role as the prophesied suffering Messiah (Isaiah 52-53, see notes) from the beginning, but you might imagine that such a concept would be difficult for his disciples to digest. If we see nothing else in this passage, we get the full impact of this necessity for crucifixion in Jesus' harsh reply to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan..." What did Jesus mean by that? Was Peter Satan? NO! A strong point is being made here by Jesus. Satan would have liked nothing better than for Jesus to take a pass on crucifixion. Redemption for all mankind would have been foiled. That crucifixion is the key to salvation for the ages. To suggest that Jesus skip his primary purpose for coming, the crucifixion, is to play into the hands of Satanic thinking. So, in the strongest words possible, Jesus rebukes Peter for such a suggestion, but Peter was not, nor would he ever be, Satan. Interestingly, Luke does not record the actual rebuke of Peter by Jesus on this occasion.

The difference between discipleship and salvation (Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26)

Matthew 16
Mark 8
Luke 9
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Jesus has just completed his comments regarding what lies ahead of them - the mock trials, the crucifixion, the resurrection. Peter's reaction (in the preceding section) indicated that he did not anticipate that it would be going in this direction. Now it's time to clearly indicate the cost of discipleship that lies in their future. Here's an important concept for understanding the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. Salvation is different from discipleship. As a matter of fact, let's add a category called "special-purpose discipleship." Let's do some definitions here:

Whoa! What is this third category, "Special-purpose discipleship?" Simply speaking, Jesus, on several occasions in the Gospels, called men to recognize the urgency of his earthly mission and drop everything (I mean everything) to follow and assist in this ministry. For example, I married while in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam era. For nine months I reported to my squadron each day and in the evening went home to my wife. Then I received my orders to the Western Pacific - NO WIVES ALLOWED. Even though I ultimately ended up serving in a squadron in Iwakuni, Japan, all of us who served in the Western Pacific were required to leave our wives and families behind and exclusively give our attention to the crisis at hand. So, does being a Marine mean forsaking family? Not necessarily. There were special-purpose assignments that did, but other assignments did not. Please understand this analogy. As Jesus neared his crucifixion, he sought disciples who would recognize this urgency, drop everything else they were involved in (including family) and follow him. I reject the notion that discipleship today involves turning one's back on family commitments. Context is important here. This special-purpose discipleship is to be distinguished from expectations of discipleship for the New Testament Believer. The Apostle Paul makes clear throughout his writings the importance of commitment to one's family responsibilities.

Since Jesus has just elaborated on the perilous events that will take place from this point forward leading up to the crucifixion, this is definitely a call to extreme, "special purpose" discipleship.

A hard verse to explain (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27)

Matthew 16
Mark 9
Luke 9
28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

After this call to discipleship in the preceding verses, it would appear that Jesus is telling his disciples that they are going to witness the establishment of the Kingdom of God/Heaven which Jesus had been talking about since his earthly ministry began. He seems to indicate it will happen before they die. In reality, the Kingdom of God/Heaven still has not come, and it will not until a distinct, yet-future time. So one naturally wonders what this statement means in Matthew 16:28, "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." It is logical to conclude that Jesus must have been referring to the transfiguration which takes place in the following verses (six days later) in all three synoptic accounts (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36 - see below). In fact, these disciples did see Jesus in the presence of Elijah and Moses on that occasion.

There is certainly a wide array of thinking regarding the meaning of this verse. The central consideration here is this: What is the "kingdom of God?" Until Israel declared its independence as a nation in 1948 after 2,500+ years of not being an sovereign nation, many theologians promoted what is today frequently called "replacement theology." Simply stated, they believed that all of the literal promises to Israel for the future would be fulfilled in the Body of Christ, the church. To them, it simply wasn't realistic to believe, after a period of over 2,500 years, that Israel would once again become a nation. As such, they saw the New Testament church as the replacement entity in nearly every Old Testament prophecy regarding Israel. Incidentally, many of these commentators provided some excellent technical commentaries as well as popular commentaries that are still widely used as references today. How many copies of Matthew Henry's commentary are sitting on bookshelves around the world at this moment? However, since the 1948 birth of Israel, most commentators today interpret prophecies regarding Israel literally rather than figuratively. That being the case, we must clearly define what is meant when Jesus refers to the "kingdom of God." To the "replacement theologian" (they aren't so plentiful anymore), the "kingdom of God" refers to the birth of the church. However, this provides many, many problems of interpretation regarding Israel-specific comments Jesus made regarding the "kingdom" all through the gospel accounts. I am certain that when Jesus refers to the "kingdom of God/kingdom of Heaven," he is literally speaking of the time when Jesus will rule the earth as the Messiah. That was the reality the Jews of his day were looking for, and that is the reality he addressed. I'm not comfortable with making Jesus' term "kingdom of God/Heaven" a moving target. I'm convinced that Jesus meant it to be understood literally each time he used the term.

That being said, I'm uneasy with calling the ascension of Jesus in Acts 1 (see notes) the fulfillment of this prophecy. That is a "replacement theology" notion that equates the New Testament church to be the equivalent of Israel with regard to prophecy. Likewise, some replacement theologians turned preterists in their view of prophecy see the fulfillment of this prophecy in the destruction of the temple. In order to make that premise work, they insist that the Apostle John's writing of his Revelation took place before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. Most scholars today date the writing of Revelation somewhere around 95 A.D. The preterist sees the kingdom of God established in the form of New Testament Believers and further believes that most, if not all, of the events in the Book of Revelation were fulfilled leading up to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. Therefore, dismissing the short-sighted theories that Israel is the church and the church is Israel, the literalist is left with the task of explaining how these disciples could have seen the "coming" of the "kingdom of God" before they died. While not completely satisfying to the inquiring mind, the occurrence of the transfiguration of Jesus six days later in the presence of Moses and Elijah may have very well served to fulfill this prophecy (see below).

The Transfiguration: Jesus with Elijah and Moses (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36)

Matthew 17
Mark 9
Luke 9
1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

Jesus had said a few days earlier that some of his disciples would see some kind of a sight which would serve as a demonstration of His coming Kingdom (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27 - see above). Here's that event; we know it as the Transfiguration. Peter, James and John are present. The face of Jesus, along with his garments, begin shining as Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. He then has a conversation with Elijah and Moses. Peter's first inclination is to make a tourist attraction of this spot. Then they hear a voice from Heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." This event served the disciples as a foreshadowing of the Kingdom of Heaven that was to come, but Jesus explains that other Old Testament prophecies must be fulfilled first, including the crucifixion and resurrection. They ask among themselves, "Reckon what that means?"

Matthew and Mark time this event at "after six days" from the occasion of Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27 (see above). Luke describes the lapsed time as "about" eight days. Technically, both are correct and obviously intended to be approximations as to when the transfiguration took place in relation to the previous verse.

Incidentally, the appearance of Moses and Elijah on this occasion lends credibility to the notion that the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-14 (see notes) are these two prophets - resurrected.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner