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|This is the New King James text of the passages.
Matthew 16:1-17:9; Mark 8:10-9:10; Luke 9:18-36 Listen
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)
|1 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.
2 He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’;
3 and in the morning, “It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.
10 immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
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 seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." 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)
|5 ¶ Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
7 ¶ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.”
8 ¶ But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?
9 Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up?
10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?
11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
|13 ¶ And He left them, and getting into the boat again, departed to the other side.
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.
15 Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
16 ¶ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”
17 ¶ But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?
18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?
19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” ¶ They said to Him, “Twelve.”
20 ¶ “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” ¶ And they said, “Seven.”
21 ¶ So He said to them, “How is it you 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)
|22 ¶ Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him.
23 So 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 on him, He asked him if he saw anything.
24 ¶ And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”
25 ¶ Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.
26 Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone 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)
|13 ¶ When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 ¶ So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 ¶ He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 ¶ Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 ¶ Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
19 And 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 will be loosed in heaven.”
20 ¶ Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
|27 ¶ Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
28 ¶ So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
29 ¶ He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” ¶ Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
30 ¶ Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
|18 ¶ And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
19 ¶ So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
20 ¶ He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” ¶ Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
21 ¶ And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one,
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, "Who 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 who do you say that I am?" Peter wastes no time with his reply, "You are 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, "...you are Peter, and on 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, "You are 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)
|21 ¶ From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 ¶ Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23 ¶ But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
|31 ¶ And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
|22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, 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 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)
|24 ¶ Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
|34 ¶ When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
|23 ¶ Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes 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)
|28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
|1 And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”
|27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste 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, "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste 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)
|1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;
2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 ¶ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.
7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”
8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 ¶ Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”
|2 ¶ Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.
3 His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—
6 because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.
7 ¶ And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”
8 Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.
9 ¶ Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.
|28 ¶ Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah,
31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.
33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.
34 ¶ While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.
35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”
36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things 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 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.