1.  Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.

What incredible nerve these Pharisees had to ask the Lord for a sign from heaven when all He was doing everywhere He went was showing signs!  But remember that they thought they were above other men, and thus deserved special signs.

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.

The things that Christ was doing everywhere He went were clear signs of the times.  They should have told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they were living in the times of the Messiah on earth.  Yet they had refused to read these signs and admit what they meant, so they asked for a special sign all of their own.  For this the Lord condemned them severely.

We should earnestly consider our times from a Biblical perspective and see what the “signs of the times” might be in our day.  It will help us put our present culture in perspective, and not be caught up in the present, evil flow of this world.  And it will help us to understand the truth of the mystery and the dispensation in which we live.

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.

The sign of Jonah was the sign of a man rising from the dead.  This is what Jonah did when he was cast out of the belly of the whale, and this was what Christ was also soon to do.  This was the only sign that these Pharisees and Sadducees were to be given.

Notice that Christ refers to these Pharisees and Sadducees as a “generation.”  We have a common use of the word “generation” whereby it comes to mean all the people of a certain age living on the earth at any given time.  We speak of “our parents’ generation,” “our generation,” and “our children’s generation.”  Yet we often forget that this is not the basic meaning of the word.  The word is part of a family of words that comes from the infinitive, “to generate.”  Many things can be generated besides just children.  In this case, Christ was referring to the leaders that had been generated in Israel, these wicked Pharisees and Sadducees.  They were the “wicked and adulterous generation.”  To try to apply this to all people living on the earth at that time, or even all Israelites living on the earth at that time, would be a serious mistake.  This only has reference to these specific wicked men who had been generated as leaders in Israel, and yet who were so far from God in their hearts.

5.  And when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

No doubt planning such things was a major necessity for the disciples.  Since they were a traveling group, they constantly needed to be concerned with either finding food or bringing it with them.  Yet it seems in this case they had fallen down on the job.

6.  Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

The Lord is referring back to the confrontation He had just had with these men, and using the occasion of the missing bread to teach something to His disciples.

7.  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.”

The disciples are so caught up with their concern about food that they totally miss the point of what the Lord was saying to them.

8.  But when Jesus perceived it, He said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?

If they had had more faith, they would have given His words the consideration they deserved and figured out what He truly meant.  As I said, they were too distracted by the cares of this life to hear what the Lord was trying to say to them.  Not an uncommon occurrence in our day as well!

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?

The Lord used fewer loaves to feed more people in the first instance, and more loaves to feed fewer people in the second instance.  Thus, His power was not based on some scientific principle of multiplication, but rather on the power of God providing what was needed in each situation.  If the disciples had learned the lesson from this that they should have learned, they would have known that Christ was more than able to provide for their needs, whether they had brought any food along or no.

11.  “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but you should 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.

Because the disciples STILL did not understand that, for the Lord, feeding them was no problem whatsoever, He actually had to explain to them that He was talking about the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  In our day, there are many false teachings just as damaging.  Or do we really believe that our Christian church is so much better than the religion of that day that we can trust the doctrines of our churches?

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?”

This question was not because the Lord did not already know what men were saying, but rather was to lead them into making the confession of faith that Peter made in verse 16.

14.  So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

How little people knew of the Lord Jesus’ background shows forth in the things they believed about Him.  His miraculous virgin birth and His subsequent childhood were apparently unknown to these people, as they believed Him to be a prophet risen from the dead.  They were trying to grasp who such an amazing Man could be.  We can hardly fault them for this, as the Lord had not told them Who He was!

15.  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

This was the important question for His disciples to answer that the previous question was only leading into.

16.  And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Although Peter was the spokesman in this case, we should not assume that he was the only one of them who held this opinion.  His opinion was basically the opinion of all the disciples, excepting Judas.

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.

Although the Father had hidden Who Christ was from the multitude, He had revealed it to the disciples, as Peter demonstrated here, and was praised for it.  Remember that who receives what knowledge is a matter entirely up to the God Who gives all knowledge.  That is why we should pray and ask Him to give us a knowledge of the truth.  It is not your church or minister that will give it to you!

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.

The word for “Peter” means a little stone, whereas the word for “rock” means a boulder.  Moreover, “Peter” is “petros” in Greek which is masculine, whereas the “rock” is “petra” and is neuter.  Thus the Lord was not talking about Peter as the rock, or even about Himself as the rock, as many hold.  Rather, He was talking about the confession Peter had just made…that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  That confession of faith is the rock, not a person.  The Lord Jesus was not talking about building a line of “apostolic succession” from Peter, but was rather talking about building the “ecclesia” upon His Own Word!

I wonder how often we really think about what God is saying here.  When He says that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the ecclesia, what does He mean?  When you are having a victory over gates, you must either be on the outside trying to get in or on the inside trying to get out.  So which is true of the ecclesia?  Are they in Hades trying to get out, or are they outside of Hades trying to get in?  The reason I ask this is because I think that there is no place for either one in popular Christian doctrine.  Perhaps it is time to re-examine what we believe!

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.”

The Lord has the keys to Hades (Revelation 1:18,) and now the disciples are given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  This is a statement made specifically to the disciples, and yet many try to appropriate it for themselves today.  For anyone but Christ’s disciples to claim this blessing for himself is a most obvious and condemnable form of self-aggrandizement!

20.  Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

Again we note that the Lord did not want the common people to know Who He was.  How, then, can they be charged with rejecting Him?

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 again the third day.

Now the Lord starts to reveal to His disciples the grim truth of what was going to happen to Him soon.  He minces no words, but clearly reveals that He is to be killed.  However, He also clearly offers the hope of His resurrection.

This is the first occurrence of the term “the third day.”  This was a term that had to do with a belief the people had at the time.  They thought that a person’s spirit would hover over the body for two full days or forty-eight hours after a person died seeking to regain entrance into the body.  If a body could be healed from whatever caused it to die during this time, as Christ Himself had done to some recently dead bodies, then the spirit would naturally return to the body and the person would be alive again.  However, they believed that a person’s spirit gave up and left the body, returning to God, after forty-eight hours.  At this time, no one but God Himself could call the spirit back.  Thus, by proclaiming that He would rise “the third day,” Christ was not necessarily giving the exact time He would rise, but rather proclaiming that His resurrection would take place long after the beliefs of the day said it was impossible.

22.  Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

Peter, having just demonstrated commendable faith, here demonstrates condemnable lack of faith.  How like him we ourselves can be!

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.”

Satan was inciting Peter to attempt to get Christ to turn away from the plan God had for Him.  As such, the Lord rebuked Satan, the one behind the attack, rather than Peter.  Imagine how such a rebuke must have made Peter feel, however!

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.

Again picture a man leaving behind his worldly possessions and following Christ with only what he could carry wrapped in a handkerchief and tied to his walking stick.  For us to follow Christ in this way would necessitate our being in Heaven with Him, which we obviously are not.

25.  “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

The word for “life” here is the same as the word for “soul” in verse 26, and actually means “soul.”  Here it is figurative for things that the soul enjoys, the very things that they would be leaving behind if they followed Him with only the things they could carry.

26.  “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Now He speaks of “soul” as a man’s own self.  If you gain the whole world but lose yourself to the second death, what have you really gained?

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.

If their works did not earn them life, then they would lose their souls.  Is this salvation by works?  Remember, our “work” is to believe in the One Whom God has sent!  (John 6:29)

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.”

This could not be true if the “coming” Christ was speaking of here was His so-called “second coming,” which the Bible calls His “parousia.”  None of these men are still alive today, and so if this is what it means then this word of Christ must have failed, which I cannot believe, as I try to be a man of faith.  Neither can I believe, in deference to the beliefs of a good friend of mine, that this “coming” took place at the destruction of Jerusalem.  If the destruction of Jerusalem was the Son of Man coming in His kingdom, then I will have to admit that I have no understanding of Scripture whatsoever.  If the destruction of a city is the same thing as a kingdom, then I might as well give up in trying to understand the Scriptures right here, as I will have to admit that it is quite beyond me to do it!

Notice that He says that this coming was Him coming into His kingdom, not into the world from the clouds.  The kingdom began in its most early form when the holy spirit fell at Pentecost.  It continued for some time and then was interrupted, and its complete fulfillment was delayed until some future time.  Therefore, these men did see Christ coming in His kingdom.  True, they did not see Him fully come into His kingdom.  This was not the prophecy, however, but only that they would see Him COMING.

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