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MattheW Chapter 16

Memory verses for this week:   Mat 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. And he left them, and departed. 

Introduction: In last week’s lesson, Christ rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for finding fault with the disciples due to them not washing their hands before they ate bread.   Christ pointed out that they broke no law in doing this, but only a tradition.   He went on to point out that they made the laws of God of none effect due to their honoring the traditions more than the commandments.  In the latter part of the chapter, we saw Christ healing the sick and later feeding the 4,000 with a few fish and seven loaves of bread. 

I.    Jesus Rebukes the Blind Pharisees and Sadducees 

Mat 16:1  The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven.

Mat 16:2  He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

Mat 16:3  And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

The Pharisees ask Christ for a sign from heaven.  This was an insult when you think of all the wonders Christ had done in the land.  They had seen countless numbers of signs from heaven, and they had ignored them all.   There were so many, and they were adequate to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Christ as the son of God and the promised Messiah that had been prophesied to come.  It is hard to know what they wanted… perhaps an audible voice speaking out of the clouds.   God had already spoken when Christ was baptized and said that Christ was His beloved son in whom he was well pleased.

Mat 3:16  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Mat 3:17  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus replies that their unbelief is not due to lack of evidence, but to a lack of spiritual discernment.  The difficulty was not with the character of Christ’s proofs, but with the state of their hearts.  (which was far from the Lord.)  Jesus tells them that they were wise enough to see the indications of the weather when they looked at the sky.  With all the miracles Jesus had performed, they were too stupid to see the signs of His royalty and the nearness of His kingdom.

Mat 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. And he left them, and departed.

Jesus declares that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  But there was not to be another sign, but the signs of the prophets.   Jonas and all the old testament prophets had told of the one to come, and Jesus came according to all of those scriptures.  The resurrection of Christ would be the final sign to this world.   Remember what Christ had said about Jonah.

Mat 12:40  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The resurrection would be the final proof of the claims Christ had made.  All other founders of religions are dead and in the grave today except for ours.  Jesus is alive and seated at the right hand of God today.   And one day very soon, He is coming again to take us to be with Him.

II.  Jesus Interprets the Symbol of Leaven

Mat 16:5  And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

Mat 16:6  Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Mat 16:7  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

Mat 16:8  Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

As Jesus and the disciples cross the lake, Christ warns them to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  He uses leaven as a symbol of false doctrine.  The Pharisees were a leading religious group in their day.  They were wrapped up in the law and could literally quote from memory many of the books of the bible.  They believed in angels and the resurrection.   The Sadducees did not believe in either thing and were a strict sect of their own.  The doctrine of both were false.  The Pharisees did believe in a few truths, but most all of their doctrine was patterned after the traditions of men.   The Pharisees were the formalists of the day.  They wanted to be seen of men, and they had a large system of ceremonies and regarded the rituals as more important that the moral law.  The disciples don’t comprehend what Christ means when he says to beware of the “leaven of the Pharisees.”  They thought He was rebuking them for failing to bring bread to eat.  Jesus had to eat to survive during this time like any other man, but eating was not a high priority in his life.   Jesus reminds them of the miracles of the loaves and the feeding of the multitudes beginning in verse 9. 

Mat 16:9  Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

Mat 16:10  Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

Mat 16:11  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?

Mat 16:12  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.

Matthew Henry said this about the disciples lack of understanding.

 He reproves their distrust of his ability and readiness to supply them in this strait (v. 8); "O ye of little faith, why are ye in such perplexity because ye have taken no bread, that ye can mind nothing else, that ye think your Master is as full of it as you, and apply every thing he saith to that?’’ He does not chide them for their little forecast, as they expected he would. Note, Parents and masters must not be angry at the forgetfulness of their children and servants, more than is necessary to make them take more heed another time; we are all apt to be forgetful of our duty. This should serve to excuse a fault, Peradventure it was an oversight. See how easily Christ forgave his disciples’ carelessness, though it was in such a material point as taking bread; and do likewise. But that which he chides them for is their little faith.  [i]

Jesus points out that if it was physical bread to eat that he was concerned about, he could supply that by speaking it into existence.  But he was concerned about a much greater bread… the spiritual food that they were being supplied.  Christ was thinking of the false teaching to which His disciples would be exposed.   We need to learn from this too… we may not have Pharisees and Sadducees by name around us, but false doctrine is abounding today all over the world.   If you check the total doctrine being taught, I’m afraid that there is more false doctrine being taught today than there is true doctrine.   And the only way we can know this is to become students of the word of God and know what God has said about each thing.   Then no one can mislead us.   A few weeks ago, I met Brother Frank Johnson, the recently retired pastor of a Baptist church in Midland, Texas.   He told me that in his 38 years of being a pastor at that church, he never spent one hour teaching his flock about the false sects in America.  He said “I always believed that if I trained my people to know the truth of the Word of God, then no matter who tries to mislead them, they will not be tricked.”    How are we in our spiritual maturity?   Can we spot false teachers for what they are?  We should be able to do that.

Heb 5:11  Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

Heb 5:12  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Heb 5:13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

Heb 5:14  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


III.  Peter’s Confession

Mat 16:13  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?

Mat 16:14  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

Mat 16:15  He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

Mat 16:16  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

After Christ and the disciples arrive in Caesarea Philippi, he poses the question as to who He really was.   His exact question was “Whom do men say that I am?”  Man has been giving an answer for over 2,000 years as to who Christ is.   I had several people email me this week about that box they found somewhere there in middle east that was inscribed “James, the brother of Jesus”.   It is as if something like this has to be found for people to believe that Jesus was who he said he was.  We don’t need a box, a burial cloth, or the ark itself to show up to know that Jesus is true.   Read the word of God, talk to people who have been eternally changed by Jesus coming into their lives.   There are dozens of books out by men and women who set out to prove Jesus was a false prophet, and by the time they did their research, the vast majority have become Christians.  The facts speak for themselves.   Man’s answer may be important to us, but believe me, God’s answer is the one that counts.   The bible says to know God is true.  He can not lie.

Rom 3:4  God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Men said the Christ was perhaps John the Baptist, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.  In this, they were saying that Jesus was no ordinary man.  If Christ was one of the prophets, that would mean that God had to raise him from the dead.  But the second question was a more direct one… he says to Peter, “Whom do ye say that I am?”   Every man and woman will one day have to admit who Christ is.  How much greater and rewarding to come to know Christ in this life, and be saved.

Peter says “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”   Peter may have had his problems from time to time, but he got this answer right.

Mat 16:17  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.

Jesus tells Peter that if was not some man (flesh and blood) that revealed this to him, but it was the God of heaven who had revealed it.   Thank the Lord for revealing the deeper things of the Word of God to us that seek after Him.

James 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

James 1:7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

Mat 16:18  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.

Jesus declares that He will build His church upon Himself…Jesus is the chief corner stone that the Jews rejected.   Some have misinterpreted verse 18 to say that Jesus was going to build his church on Peter.   As we know, if he had done that, it would have been a very flimsy foundation.   No matter how much faith we have, none of us would make a good foundation.   But Jesus is the foundation that is both sure and proven.  When we build on Him, we have something to be proud of.   It glorifies the Heavenly Father.

1 Cor 3:11  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 3:12  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

1 Cor 3:13  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

1 Cor 3:14  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

1 Cor 3:15  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.


1 Pet 2:3  If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

1 Pet 2:4  To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

1 Pet 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

1 Pet 2:6  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

1 Pet 2:7  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

1 Pet 2:8  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

1 Pet 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

1 Pet 2:10  Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

I liked what J. Vernon McGee said about verse 18.

Let us look at this verse carefully. On what rock did Jesus build His church? There are those who say that it was built on Simon Peter. Well, obviously it was not, because there is a play upon words here. In the original Greek it is, “Thou art Petros [a little piece of rock], and upon this petra [bedrock] I will build my church.” There are others who hold that Christ is building His church upon the confession that Simon Peter made. I don’t agree with that at all.

Who is the Rock? The Rock is Christ. The church is built upon Christ. We have Simon Peter’s own explanation of this. In 1 Peter 2:4, referring to Christ, he writes, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” And he remembers Isaiah 28:16, “… Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1 Pet. 2:6). The church is built upon Christ; He is the foundation. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). Christ is the stone, and He says on this rock He will build His church.   [ii]


Mat 16:19  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.

Mat 16:20  Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

The word ‘key’ here means authority.  Christ is declaring that He will give His church the authority to take the gospel into all the world.   There is one and only one key that opens the entrance into the kingdom of God, and that is the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have been given the ability to bind and loose things here on earth.   An example of this is when the church sets a time to worship.   If we know we are to come at that time and worship, and we fail to do so, we are guilty when we do not come.  If the church has to exclude a member due to unwillingness to turn from sin, you not only lose fellowship with the church but also with the Lord.   Jesus warns in verse 20 for the disciples to not tell others what had been revealed to them at this time.   The multitudes were not yet ready to hear the truth.   Unfortunately, some never come to the time when they will accept the truth of the gospel and wind up going into eternity unprepared to meet God.   This is such a tragedy… Jesus paid the price and will take all who will come.

IV.  Christ Foretells His Death and Resurrection

Mat 16:21  From that time forth began Jesus to show 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.

Mat 16:22  Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

Mat 16:23  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.

From this time forward, Jesus began to teach His disciples about His death and resurrection.  This was a difficult doctrine for the disciples to hear and understand.  What they failed to understand was that this HAD to happen for us to have eternal salvation.  Peter was one quick to speak, and he stands and rebukes Christ… He did it out of love, but he was wrong.    Peter tells Jesus that it should not happen.   Jesus would not let anyone stop Him from His mission to go and die on Calvary.  Christ speaks in harsh terms when He says “Get thee behind me Satan”.   Anything that keeps us from the will of God is sin, and Jesus would have nothing to do with it.   Peter was thinking in man’s way of thinking… Jesus was doing the VERY will of God in His life.

Mat 16:24  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.

Mat 16:25  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Mat 16:26  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?

Mat 16:27  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.

Mat 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.

To truly follow Christ, we must learn to deny ourselves and die to the physical man each day.   When we do that, we can be true disciples of the Lord.   Taking up the cross speaks of death, and that is what we need to do to the old man.   We need to let the new man (Spiritual man) take control of our lives.  I am looking forward to that morning (or night) when Christ splits that eastern sky.

1 Th 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

1 Th 4:17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 Th 4:18  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[ii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.