John T. Willis

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Biblical Teaching of Disciples--9

Matthew 16 contains FOUR events involving Jesus and his disciples. One can learn much about the biblical teaching of disciples from this chapter.

1. The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:1-12.
     a. The Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus to test him, asking him to show them a SIGN from heaven. Jesus told them that they know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but they cannot interpret the signs of the times. No sign will be given but the sign of Jonah. 16:1-4.
     b. When Jesus' DISCIPLES reached the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus warned them: "Watch out, and beware of the YEAST of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." The disciples said to one another: Jesus said this because we have brought no bread. Perceiving their idea, Jesus rebuked them because of their lack of perception. He reminds them that he fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread, and he fed 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread. When Jesus said this, his disciples understood that Jesus had in mind the TEACHING of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. 16:5-12.

2. The Great Confession. Matthew 16:13-20.
     a. Jesus came to the district of Caesarea Philippi located just south of Mount Hermon in North Israel, Jesus ASKED HIS DISCIPLES, "Who do you think the Son of Man is?" They replied: Some say: John the Baptist; others say: Elijah; others say Jeremiah. Jesus stopped them and asked them pointedly: "But who do YOU say that I am?" 16:13-15.
     b. Simon Peter immediately spoke up and said: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
These two terms are well-established terms for a KING in texts in the Hebrew Bible. Peter is clearly thinking of various texts of the Hebrew Bible. (1) Messiah is the Hebrew noun meaning "anointed one," based on the very mashach, meaning "to anoint." See, for example, 1 Samuel 9;15-16; 10:1; 16:13; 2 Samuel 5:4. Usually, a prophet anointed a person to be a PRINCE [not a king] in behalf of Yahweh, the only true KING over God's people. All this indicates that Jesus is subservient to his heavenly Father. Jesus emphasizes this often especially in the Gospel of John. Note, for example, John 6:38: "I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." John 8:28b-29: "I do nothing on my own, but I speak as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him." John 12:44-45: "Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me." The Heavenly Father is the ANOINTER, and Jesus is his ANOINTED ONE subservient to the Father in all that he says and does. Acts 2:33-36 describes this picture clearly. (2) "Son of God" is a common term for an earthly king because Yahweh is the heavenly Father. 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:6-7 are two good examples of this. Of course, in a few texts like Matthew 1:18-25, "Son of God" has in mind the miraculous birth of Jesus through the virgin Mary. But a text like Hebrews 1:3-9 clearly defines Jesus as KING crowned when he was caught up into heaven after the ascension as described in Acts 1:9-11. 16:16.
       c. Jesus then commended Peter that this truth did not come from flesh and blood, but was revealed from the Father in heaven. Then Jesus tells Peter that "on this rock," that it is, Peter Jesus will build his church, alluding to Peter's sermon on Pentecost described in Acts 2. Jesus give Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," a royal expression based on Isaiah 22:22, based on the idea that a steward of the royal house takes care of the household in behalf of the master of the house--see Isaiah 22:15. Peter's sermon in Acts 2 has already been bound in heaven. [The Greek in Matthew 16:19 means: "Whatever you bind on earth SHALL HAVE [ALREADY] BEEN BOUND IN HEAVEN]." 16:17-19.
       d. Then Jesus sternly commanded his DISCIPLES not to tell anyone that Jesus is the MESSIAh, knowing that hearers of this would assume that Jesus came to establish an earthly kingdom. 16:20.

3. Jesus rebukes Peter. Matthew 16:21-23.
    a. Then Jesus revealed to his DISCIPLES that he must go to Jerusalem, where the Jewish authorities will inflict great pain on him, and be killed, and be raised on the third day. 16:21.
    b. Peter immediately sternly told Jesus that this will NEVER happen to Jesus. 16:22.
    c. Jesus wheeled around and said sharply: "Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." At this point, Peter did not understand the purpose and function of Jesus to suffer and die and be raised from the dead to save all penitent people to God. 16:23.

4. Jesus explains clearly the meaning and function of a true DISCIPLE. Matthew 16:24-28.
    a. Jesus said to his DISCIPLES: "If any want to become my FOLLOWERS, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and FOLLOW me." From God's perspective, from the perspective of the Bible, a DISCIPLE is a FOLLOWER of Jesus, NOT a leader, because the only true leader is Jesus Christ our Lord through our Heavenly Father. 16:24.
    b. A true disciple must lose his/her life to be saved. If a person gains the whole world, he/she will forfeit his/her life. This exchange is not worth the facade. 16:25-26.
    c. At the end of the world, Jesus will come with his angels and will repay everything what each penitent person has done. 16:27-28.

Humility is the hallmark of a true DISCIPLE. No TRUE DISCIPLE desires to be a LEADER, but to be a FOLLOWER, a SERVANT, of the only true LEADER, the Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Share YOUR understandings and perceptions and imaginations and ideas and beliefs with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

 (2) "Son of God"


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