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Posts tagged ‘Sign from heaven’

Demanding signs or denying yourself

Matthew 16:1-4

We have read in the account of the evangelist Matthew (chapter 16) how once again Jesus was tested and how the Sadducees and Pharisees expressed what many people today also want to see, namely signs of Jesus and/or signs of God.

The religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign from heaven. They wanted proof that Jesus was sent from God (Matthew 16:1). Today there are still many who doubt Jesus was sent by God. There are lots of people who have made Jesus into their god but still are not quite sure what to believe and for sure do not really follow him.

At the beginning of our era the Nazarene master teacher Jeshua was in the midst of the chosen people of God. They had enough scrolls with ancient writings from sent ones from God or prophets who told about the man who would come to save the world. The son of man Jeshua or Jesus gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, and preached with astounding authority. It seemed not enough to come to see he was a special man with special gifts which could only come from the Most High God above all gods.  What more did they want?

For those who could see that preacher and miracle maker, many did not come to realise the Son of God was standing right in front of them. Today a lot of people still can not see who Jesus really is.

A member of a small country Missionary Baptist Church who calls himself

a regular guy, who loves God and God’s Word. {About Me}

got to see how Jesus was

not a shy retiring type of man who always spoke words designed to make everyone feel “included.” {Jesus’ Challenge To Follow Him}

and writes

He sometimes told it just as it was, without mincing words. He rebuked evil and demanded obedience. No one was excluded from following, but those who chose to do so found the company to be exclusive. {Jesus’ Challenge To Follow Him}

Jesus knew for what reason he was here on earth. He knew very well his chosen position and wanted to do God His Will instead of following his own will. Naturally in case Jesus would have been God than Jesus would always have done His own will. But Jesus knew he had to deny himself and asked the same of his followers. They too had to become one with him and one with his God, the God of Israel, Who is Only One God Who is One and God of gods.

Jesus was willing to give his life for others and required this too from those around him. Jesus said to his disciples and to the people around him

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” {Matthew 16:24}

Anyone who wants to call himself “Christian” should followChristJeshua the Messiah. We must know it is not so easy as many think because discipleship is costly. As followers of Christ Jesus we must deny ourself [set aside selfish interests], and “take up his cross (or his stake)” [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow him, which mean we have to believe in him and be conforming to his example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in him. That last bit may be not something we have to face in these times, but in several countries many believers still have to do, plus it can well be we shall have to face a time where it shall happen or that we shall be tested in very fearful circumstances.

After Jesus had died and had shown himself after his resurrection, the apostle Paul was ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the master Jesus. {Acts 21:13} His knowledge of Christ led Paul to reassess the ways of truly pleasing and serving God. His re-evaluation indicates the profound and lasting effect of his experience of the meaning of Christ on the way to Damascus some twenty years before (Gal 1:15–16; Acts 9:1–22). He therefore wrote

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. {Philippians 3:7}

What are the things you would not mind counting a loss or to consider as worthless for Christ, with the knowledge that Christ has shown you that what you once thought was valuable is worthless. We are surrounded with a lot of materials which seem to be very valuable, costing a lot. Lots of people give a lot of attention to what they have and like to show off their earthly goods. Today there is not so much interest in Jesus or in God.

For those who are interested in Jesus, the majority consider him to be God and do not see that he is the sent one and the anointed one from God (Moshiach; Mashiach; Messiah; Kristos or Christ). Jesus is anointed to be ‘King‘ in the Kingdom of God. This is a huge deal and a turning point for the disciples of which Peter recognised him as the Kristos or Christ and said

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” {Matthew 16:16}

Those who want to call themselves Christian should, like the apostles, grasp that Jeshua or Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, or recognise Jesus as the Kristos – Christ or Messiah and as the son of the Living God. At the same time they should try to come to live and to be like Christ and should take him as their foundation of the church (not Peter). Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 3:11 ,tells us:

“For other foundation can no man lay, then that is laid, which is”,

not Simon Peter, but Jesus Christ.

“No other foundation can man lay, but that which is”.

From the early Messianic writings we learn the disciples of Christ talked about the gatherings they had and of small groups or congregations that formed. Jesus wanted that people became united under him and would come together to congregate, to gather, to meet as brothers and sisters. At their meetings they had to learn about the Word of God, studying the Scriptures. That would be the best way to come to learn the truth and to have a thoroughly grounded faith. And the roots have to go deep and become strong. Therefore each member in the group has to help the others. One of the difficulties being not to focus any-more on the worldly goods and aspects but on the heavenly matters.

The biggest thing Jesus wants from us is….us. As we grow in faith we put what we think we want aside, and come to see what He wants. Ultimately we will come to desire the same for ourselves as He desires for us. {Jesus’ Challenge To Follow Him}

To get to know what Jesus wants we have to read the gospels and learn from them. In a certain way it is also a matter of wanting to become a slave Of Jesus instead of being a slave of this world. When you want to call yourself a Christian you too should want to become a disciple, which means to be a “follower,” someone who adheres completely to the teachings of Jeshua (Jesus Christ), making them his rule of life and conduct. The Pharisees prided themselves in being disciples of Moses (John 9:28) but they had entered a lot of human teachings and rules in their teachings, like the contemporary churches also have done. The majority of so called Christian churches give more importance on human teachings and church doctrines instead of Biblical doctrines. As members of such churches people, like in the time of Jesus, are also confronted with the choice they should make.

The church in our Western capitalist society a is undergoing historical realignment. Until recently Christians have been divided mostly along denominational lines. But now Christian denominations are dividing within themselves between those who believe the Bible and those who do not.

Today we are confronted by the same choice the disciples of Jesus  and the people around Jesus had. We can either keep following those who keep to human doctrines and heathen rites or go for those who want to follow Jesus in all aspects. We can see that those who trust Scripture are now a remnant in many denominations. In some cases they are leaving their institutions behind because they can no longer participate in the disobedient course being taken by spiritually darkened leaders.

Our times are characterized by increasing scepticism towards God’s word and expanding secularism in every facet of life. As a result, biblical illiteracy is growing by leaps and bounds, and church participation is faltering.

We should know that Jesus should be our most important teacher, but that all the words of the other prophets are also of importance and that we, like Jesus, should always follow God’s Word and do the Will of God.

Though we can not be a direct disciple of Jesus, by his teachings, given to us by the Bible, we have enough instructions and guidance to become a real follower.

Christian discipleship is summed up in the Great Commission. After the resurrection and before Jesus ascended into heaven, the master teacher appeared one last time to his disciples (they were eleven in number at that time, since Judas Iscariot had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself). Christ had given such convincing proofs of his resurrection, as made their faith to triumph over doubts. He now solemnly commissioned the apostles and his ministers to go forth among all nations. This is the moment that he delivered the famous calling for disciples known as The Great Commission:

18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Amen. {Matthew 28:18-20}

Christian discipleship continued to grow when the followers of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem and Peter outlined criteria for selecting a twelfth disciple to replace Judas Iscariot. The Scripture says they drew lots and the lot fell to Matthias. These men, who had previously been disciples, or followers of Jesus, were now to become apostles, or messengers. Their intention was to spread the Word, and beginning with Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and indwelt them for the first time, they did! (See Acts 1 and 2.) The purpose of the church of Christ is to teach the words of Jesus and bring unbelievers to belief in Christ as their Lord and Saviour; baptizing them, and teaching them to lead other unbelievers to saving faith in Jesus. A Godly environment of each community or church is key to the good health and continued success of the congregation.

even when you are only with a few nothing should resist to come together in somebodies house, like the first Christians did. They gathered in private as well in public houses. We too still can hold a gathering in our own house or find a place to meet with others. No matter our nationality, gender or bloodline we can call others to join us in peace to study the Word of God and to praise the Most High. We should spread the message of Christ and get others to believe they should have faith in the sent one from God.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. {John 3:16-17 New International Version}.

We should show to others the one who can be a light for everybody. We can proof to them that when they together with us want to follow Jesus they don’t have to walk in darkness any more, because they will have the light that leads to life. {John 8:12}

Thanks to the faithfulness of those apostles, who clearly understood their role as messengers of Christ, we have their gospels and letters to go by. Later, when Paul was added to their number (by virtue of his Road to Damascus encounter with the risen Christ), he wrote letters to all the churches he helped create. These books and letters became part of the New Testament of God’s Word, and unlike those first disciples, we have all of Christ’s instructions at our fingertips!

Sharing the message of Jesus we can give everybody around us the opportunity to come to see that Jesus is the way to God and God’s ultimate means of revealing Himself to us.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. {Hebrews 1:3 New International Version}

We have Jesus now as our mediator between God and us. We need no other mediator between God and us. He is also our best high priest. For making “church” we all have to work together in the spirit of Christ. Our faith in Jesus and in his heavenly Father should be the fuel that keeps our aircraft of our life flying.

With faith, you are on the go, there is no stumbling block on the way. All mountains are made plains. {Understanding the power of faith}

United as brethren and sisters, as sons and daughters of God, you shall find you shall be able to accomplish more than on your own. Surrounded by big institutions or well-known denominational churches it demands courage to step out of them and to go for a smaller church or just for meeting with other people who prefer just to keep to the inspired and infallible Word of God. But be sure it pays to choose the right path and to believe in the sent of God who gave his life for sinful humanity.

Are you a person who wants more signs than the one God has given the world? Do you need other proofs that Jesus is the sent one from God, His only begotten son, who by giving his life brought salvation by paying the full ransom price?

Are you preferring to belong to the main churches which keep to human doctrines, feasts and rites, or do you prefer to follow Jesus and keep to the God given feasts and rituals?

Are you willing to keep following the world or willing to follow Jesus?

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Preceding

Ezekiel 18:4 – What the Bible teaches about Soul and Spirit

More than just a man with authority of speaking

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #5 Matthew 7:28-29 – The Crowd’s Reaction

Matthew 9:32-34 – How others look at the blind, speechless and demoniac being healed

Matthew 9:35-38 – Looking at Jesus our shepherd

Matthew 10:24-31 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Do Not Fear – Preach!

Matthew 10:32-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: I Came to Cause Division

Matthew 12:46-50 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Family of Messiah

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 16:13-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Building a Hades-Proof Congregation

Matthew 16:21-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Think God’s Thoughts

Matthew 16:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Disciple Must Disown Self

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Additional reading

  1. Jehovah God Almighty greater than all gods
  2. What sort people of faith do we want to be
  3. Truth, doubt or blindness
  4. Knowing The Truth and Loving The Truth
  5. The true light in recorded words
  6. A Book to trust #2 Book of Truth
  7. A Book to trust #6 True God and true words
  8. Torah hanging on two commandments and focussing on a Mashiach
  9. Messianic prophesies 1 Adversary – Root of the first prophecy
  10. Messianic prophesies 2 Adversary – Root of the first prophecy
  11. Fog, brass and light for the eyes
  12. The Right One to follow and to worship
  13. Why think that (2) … Jesus claimed to be something special
  14. Concerning Christ #1 A god or the God, a son of man and son of God
  15. Concerning Christ #2 Divine source, connection and divine human being
  16. The sent one from God
  17. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  18. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  19. What Jesus did: First things first
  20. Necessity of a revelation of creation 3 Getting understanding by Word of God 1
  21. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #3 as a Christian
  22. A call easy to understand
  23. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  24. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  25. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  26. Fellowship
  27. Seeds and weeds for being the greatest nation
  28. Americans their stars, pretension, God, Allah and end of times signs #2 War on God’s Plan, Name and title
  29. Jesus, A way given to find the right way to God
  30. Authority given to him To give eternal life
  31. Sayings of Jesus, what to believe and being or not of the devil
  32. That everyone may honour the Son and sent one from God
  33. Thought for Wednesday Believe in the one God has sent
  34. The saviour Jesus his human side
  35. Not being saved by faith in Christ alone
  36. Memorizing wonderfully 70: Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God
  37. The habitual misreading of John 1 and the ‘Word being God’ #1
  38. The habitual misreading of John 1 and the ‘Word being God’ #2
  39. Memorizing wonderfully 42 Equality with God & doing nothing of himself
  40. Memorizing wonderfully 44 Showing the works from his Father
  41. Memorizing wonderfully 46 Believe in the sent one from God, who is the Way to God
  42. Memorizing wonderfully 49 John 17:1-11 The sent one from God and eternal life
  43. Memorizing wonderfully 52 Acts 7:56: the Son of man standing on the right hand of God
  44. Our life depending on faith
  45. Which is worse–works without faith, or faith without works?
  46. Beautiful feet of those who announce the good news
  47. An atoneless religious system or a hope giving religious system
  48. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  49. Christianity primarily a matter of imitation
  50. United people under Christ
  51. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  52. Jewish and Christian traditions of elders
  53. A House for God in our 21st century

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Related

  1. You are Invited
  2. The Set Up
  3. Sent by Christ; March 27, 2018
  4. 15th Sunday of the Year: Sent by God for work in the world.
  5. 15th Sunday of the Year: Called by God. Catholic Inspiration
  6. Are You Willing to Submit Your Will to God?
  7. Submitting Your Will to God Simplifies Your Life
  8. God First, Then Extras
  9. Discipleship
  10. Why Discipleship Weirds Me Out
  11. The Tree of Life: thoughts on discipleship and roots
  12. “Evangelism” or “telling God’s story”?
  13. A Worthy Life
  14. Out of the Abundance of the Heart
  15. Saved, healed and delivered
  16. Grasping the Gospel
  17. Get Down With the Program, Preacher!
  18. When Process Stops So Progress Can Happen
  19. The Theology of Jesus: Part 9 Ecclesiology
  20. Christ Is The Light Of The World.
  21. Following Jesus
  22. Take Up Your Cross And Follow Christ
  23. Lenten readings – Christ is the way to the light – the truth and the life
  24. Follow, Carry the Cross

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

CHAPTER SIXTEEN:
SIGNS, LEAVEN, A ROCK, A REBUKE,
AND SELF-SACRIFICE

[“Who Am I?”]
(Key word: Congregation)

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Signs of the Times

|| Mark 8:11-13; Luke 12:54-56

MT16:1 Here in Magadan the Pharisees and Sadducees approached Jesus to tempt him, requesting some display as a sign from heaven.[1] MT16:2 But Jesus answered them, saying, “When evening comes you say, ‘The red sky means[2] fair weather.’ MT16:3 And at dawn, ‘Gloomy winter for the sky is red.’ Surely you know how to distinguish the face of the sky but signs of the times[3] you are unable. MT16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign[4] and no sign will be given it save the sign of Jonah.”[5] With that Jesus departed leaving them behind.

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[1] A sign from heaven: Compare notes on Matthew 12:38.

[2] Red sky means: The ancient sailors saying: “Red sky at night – sailor’s [shepherd’s] delight; red sky in the morning – sailor take warning.” [א, B, Syc,s, Arm omit verses 2, 3]

[3] Signs of the times: The only occurrence of the phrase and generally rendered as it is. Luke 12:56 puts it, “how to examine this particular time.” (NWT)

[4] Generation seeks a sign: Compare Mark 8:12. Without prophetic support the opposers of Jesus wanted some sign from God proving the Nazarene was a prophet. One wonders how much more they wanted to prove the carpenter was the Messiah. Of the four Gospels it is John who uses the word “signs” the most. Compare John 2:11, 23; 3:2; 4:48; 6:2, 14, 26; 7:31; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37; 20:30. Jesus does not perform signs merely because someone or a group demands this of him. In the end the signs did not move most people. Some agreed that Messiah could not perform more signs.

[5] Sign of Jonah: See notes on Matthew 12:39.

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Preceding

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

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Related

  1. Blind to the Signs.
  2. Picture of the Week 05/29/18

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

The King and his chosen sign

1. THE Pharisees also with the Sadducees come, and tempting desired him that he would shew them, a sign from, heaven The King is again met by his foes. Two sects, which were violently opposed to each other, unite their forces against him. It is the way of the wicked to become friends when seeking the overthrow of the kingdom of heaven.

On this occasion they come not with a question, but with the old demand for a sign. This time it must be “a sign from heaven,” possibly a marvel in the sky. What right had they to set him a test of such a sort as their fancy might suggest? What need for more signs when his miracles were so many? Were not all his miracles signs from heaven? Did not this demand cast a slur on all that he had already done? Was it not a practical ignoring of all his previous works of power? Too often we also have fallen into the weakness of asking a new token of divine love, thus undervaluing former favors. If the evidence we have already received of our Lord’s grace and power is not enough, when will our doubts be ended?

In this demand for a sign, our Lord’s foes were tempting him. Did the temptation lie in urging him to seek his own glory by some ostentatious display of power, for which there would be no real need? Whatever it was, our Lord passed scathless through this ordeal, for there was no pride in him. Pharisees and Sadducees will tempt us also. From their wiles and smiles may the Lord deliver us! From the desire to stand well with men may we be happily freed by our love to Jesus!

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

They could prognosticate the weather by certain signs, and our Lord Jesus mentions the weather-tokens of Palestine, yet they could not read the plainer and more plentiful warnings of the near future. Weather-signs are doubtful, but there were moral and spiritual tokens around them which could hardly be misunderstood if they would only consider them. Each country has it’s own sky warnings, and those of Palestine differ from those of England, but the signs of the times are the same in all lands. Our Lord singled out an instance of their supposed weather-wisdom: the same sign which, in the evening, was a token of fair weather, was, in the morning, a mark of foul weather.

They were able to draw nice distinctions on the variable condition of “the face of the sky:” why could they not “discern the signs of the times?” They could have seen, if they had chosen to do so, that all the prophecies were one in declaring that the date of Messiah’s appearing had arrived, and they could also have observed that every event was fulfilling those prophecies, but they were false at heart, and would not see, and yet cried out for a sign. Signs were all around them, and yet they repeated the parrot cry

“Show us a sign.

Most justly our Lord was indignant with them, and upbraided them, using the justly severe words,

“O ye hypocrites!”

Today the men who want more evidences of the supernatural deserve a similar denunciation.

**

Lord, do not allow any of us to be blind to the heavenly signs, thy cross, thy resurrection, thy Word, thy Spirit, and thy work of grace, Teach us carefully to “discern” these things as being in very deed the abiding “signs of the times.” Even in the growing coldness of the church, and the abounding iniquity of the world, let us see the tokens of thine Advent, and stand waiting and watching for thy long promised appearing.

**

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.

It was not lack of evidence, but the sad depravity of their minds, which set them upon seeking after a sign, and therefore the Lord would not satisfy their unhealthy cranny. They were wicked in morals, and adulterous in heart in their forsaking the one true God, and then they turned round and justified their unbelief in the Son of God by pleading want of proof, demanding more miracles to enable them to come to a right conclusion. Such is the deceit of man’s heart.

Our Lord repeats his former answer: he will give them no other. In the compass of the Old Testament there is no fuller sign of our Lord than Jonah. Our Lord knew that he would fulfill the type of Jonah even in it’s details, and therefore he points them to that prophet’s life.

This is a subject which deserves our careful meditation, but we cannot enlarge upon it here. Our Lord looks to his death and resurrection, and gives the prophet Jonas as his sign. Jesus will be buried, and will rise on the third day, and in the power of his resurrection, will win the Gentiles to repentance: in this he will be the antitype of Jonah, and this shall be the sign that he is indeed the Christ of God. This our Lord had said before, and he here repeated it, because it was a sufficient reply, and there was no need to study variety with a set of people who, themselves, harped perpetually upon one string.

Our Lord quitted such persons, for there was nothing to be done with them. “lie left them, and departed,” and that place saw him no more.

**

Lord, do not leave any one of us, for that would be a sure sentence of death to us.

**

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Preceding

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

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Additional reading

  1. Science, scepticism, doubts and beliefs Can a Christian have doubts?
  2. May we have doubts
  3. Know by trying
  4. Faith is knowing there is an ocean because you have seen a brook.
  5. Doubting and going astray
  6. Have faith in your faith…doubt your doubts
  7. When you don’t know what to do and hate yourself
  8. Let me keep to “first importance” things

+++

Related

  1. This Wicked and Perverse Generation
  2. Faithless and Twisted.
  3. Timeline for the Lord’s Coming
  4. God is speaking – are you listening?
  5. Watch and Pray
  6. The Meaning of End Time Signs
  7. Time to Awake Church

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

And the Pharisees came.

Mark says that they began to dispute, from which we may conjecture that, when they had been vanquished in argument, this was their last resource; as obstinate men, whenever they are reduced to extremities, to avoid being compelled to yield to the truth, are accustomed to introduce something which is foreign to the subject. Though the nature of the dispute is not expressed, yet I think it probable that they debated about the calling of Christ, why he ventured to make any innovation, and why he made such lofty pretensions, as if by his coming he had fully restored the kingdom of God. Having nothing farther to object against his doctrine, they demand that he shall give them a sign from heaven. But it is certain that a hundred signs would have no greater effect than the testimonies of Scripture. Besides, many miracles already performed had placed before their eyes the power of Christ, and had almost enabled them to touch it with their hands. Signs, by which Christ made himself familiarly known, are despised by them; and how much less will they derive advantage from a distant and obscure sign? Thus the Papists of our own day, as if the doctrine of the Gospel had not yet been proved, demand that it be ascertained by means of new miracles.

The Pharisees, together with the Sadducees. It deserves our attention that, though the Sadducees and the Pharisees looked upon each other as enemies, and not only cherished bitter hatred, but were continually engaged in hostilities, yet they enter into a mutual league against Christ. In like manner, though ungodly men quarrel among themselves, their internal broils never prevent them from conspiring against God, and entering into a compact for joining their hands in persecuting the truth.

Tempting. By this word the Evangelists mean that it was not with honest intentions, nor from a desire of instruction, but by cunning and deceit, that they demanded what they thought that Christ would refuse, or at least what they imagined was not in his power. Regarding him as utterly mean and despicable, they had no other design than to expose his weakness, and to destroy all the applause which he had hitherto obtained among the people. In this manner unbelievers are said to tempt God, when they murmur at being denied what their fancy prompted them to ask, and charge God with want of power.

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3. Hypocrites, you can judge.

He calls them hypocrites, because they pretend to ask that which, if it were exhibited to them, they are resolved not to observe. The same reproof applies nearly to the whole world; for men direct their ingenuity, and apply their senses, to immediate advantage; and therefore there is scarcely any man who is not sufficiently well qualified in this respect, or at least who is not tolerably acquainted with the means of gaining his object. How comes it then that we feel no concern about the signs by which God invites us to himself? Is it not because every man gives himself up to willing indifference, and extinguishes the light which is offered to him? The calling of Christ, and the immediate exhibition of eternal salvation, were exhibited to the scribes both by the Law and the Prophets, and by his own doctrine, to which miracles were added.

There are many persons of the same description in the present day, who plead that on intricate subjects they have a good right to suspend their judgment, because they must wait till the matter is fully ascertained. They go farther, and believe that it is a mark of prudence purposely to avoid all inquiry into the truth; as if it were not an instance of shameful sloth that, while they are so eagerly solicitous about the objects of the flesh and of the earth, they neglect the eternal salvation of their souls, and at the same time contrive vain excuses for gross and stupid ignorance.

A very absurd inference is drawn by some ignorant persons from this passage, that we are not at liberty to predict from the aspect of the sky whether we shall have fair or stormy weather. It is rather an argument which Christ founds on the regular course of nature, that those men deserve to perish for their ingratitude, who, while they are sufficiently acute in matters of the present life, yet knowingly and willfully quench the heavenly light by their stupidity.

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Matthew 16:4: A wicked and adulterous nation.

This passage was explained {1 } under #Mt 12:38 The general meaning is, that the Jews are never satisfied with any signs, but are continually tickled by a wicked desire to tempt God. He does not call them an adulterous nation merely because they demand some kind of sign, (for the Lord sometimes permitted his people to do this,). but because they deliberately provoke God; and therefore he threatens that, after he has risen from the dead, he will be a prophet like Jonah. So Matthew at least says  —  for Mark does not mention Jonah  —  but the meaning is the same; for, strictly speaking, this was intended to serve as a sign to them, that Christ, when he had risen from the dead, would in every place cause the voice of his Gospel to be distinctly heard.

*

Matthew 16:5. And when his disciples came. Here Christ takes occasion from the circumstance that had just occurred {1 } to exhort his disciples to beware of every abuse that makes an inroad on sincere piety. The Pharisees had come a little before; the Sadducees joined them; and apart from them stood Herod, a very wicked man, and an opponent and corrupter of sound doctrine. In the midst of these dangers it was very necessary to warn his disciples to be on their guard; for, since the human mind has a natural inclination towards vanity and errors, when we are surrounded by wicked inventions, spurious doctrines, and other plagues of the same sort, nothing is more easy than to depart from the true and simple purity of the word of God; and if we once become entangled in these things, it will never be possible for the true religion to hold an entire sway over us. But to make the matter more clear, let us examine closely the words of Christ.

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Along with the Pharisees Matthew mentions the Sadducees. Instead of the latter, Mark speaks of Herod. Luke takes no notice of any but the Pharisees, (though it is not absolutely certain that it is the same discourse of Christ which Luke relates,) and explains the leaven to be hypocrisy. In short, he glances briefly at this sentence, as if there were no ambiguity in the words. Now the metaphor of leaven, which is here applied to false doctrine, might have been employed, at another time, to denote the hypocrisy of life and conduct, or the same words might even have been repeated a second time. But there is no absurdity in saying, that those circumstances which are more copiously detailed by the other two Evangelists, in the order in which they took place, are slightly noticed by Luke in a manner somewhat different, and out of their proper place or order, but without any real contradiction. If we choose to adopt this conjecture, hypocrisy will denote here something different from a pretended and false appearance of wisdom. It will denote the very source and occasion of empty display, which, though it holds out an imposing aspect to the eyes of men, is of no estimation in the sight of God. For, as Jeremiah (#Jer 5:3) tells us that the eyes of the Lord behold the truth, so they that believe in his word are instructed to maintain true godliness in such a manner as to cleave to righteousness with an honest and perfect heart; as in these words,

An now, O Israel, what doth the Lord require from thee, but that thou shouldst cleave to him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul? (#De 10:12).

On the other hand, the traditions of men, while they set aside spiritual worship, wear a temporary disguise, as if God could be imposed upon by such deceptions; for to whatever extent outward ceremonies may be carried, they are, in the sight of God, nothing more than childish trifles, unless so far as they assist us in the exercise of true piety.

We now perceive the reason why hypocrisy was viewed by Luke as equivalent to doctrines invented by men, and why he included under this name the leavens of men, which only puff up, and in the sight of God contain nothing solid, and which even draw aside the minds of men from the right study of piety to empty and insignificant ceremonies. But it will be better to abide by the narrative of Matthew, which is more copious. The disciples, after having been reproved by our Lord, came at length to understand that he had charged them to be on their guard against certain doctrine. It was plainly, therefore, the intention of Christ to fortify them against prevailing abuses, by which they were attacked on all sides. The Pharisees and Sadducees were expressly named, because those two sects maintained at that time a tyrannical sway in the Church, and held opinions so utterly subversive of the doctrine of the Law and the Prophets, that almost nothing remained pure and entire.

But Herod did not in any way profess to teach; and a question arises, why does Mark class him with false teachers? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and Of The Leaven Of Herod. I reply: he was half a Jew, was mean and treacherous, and availed himself of every contrivance that was within his reach to draw the people to his side; for it is customary with all apostates to contrive some mixture, for the purpose of establishing a new religion by which the former may be abolished. It was because he was laboring craftily to subvert the principles of true and ancient piety, and thus to give currency to a religion that would be exceedingly adapted to his tyranny, or rather because he was endeavoring to introduce some new form of Judaism, that our Lord most properly charged them to beware of his leaven. From the temple of God the scribes disseminated their errors, and the court of Herod was another workshop of Satan, in which errors of a different kind were manufactured.

Thus in our own day we find that not only from Popish temples, and from the dens of sophists and monks, does Antichrist vomit out her impostures, but that there is a Theology of the Court, which lends its aid to prop up the throne of Antichrist, so that no stratagem is left untried. But as Christ opposed the evils which then prevailed, and as he aroused the minds of his followers to guard against those which were the most dangerous, let us learn from his example to make a prudent inquiry what are the abuses that may now do us injury. Sooner shall water mix with fire than any man shall succeed in reconciling the inventions of the Pope with the Gospel. Whoever desires to become honestly a disciple of Christ, must be careful to keep his mind pure from those leavens; and if he has already imbibed them, he must labor to purify himself till none of their polluting effects remain. There are restless men, on the other hand, who have endeavored in various ways to corrupt sound doctrine, and, in guarding also against such impostures, believers must maintain a strict watch, that they may keep a perpetual Passover

with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, (#1Co 5:8).

And as on every hand there now rages an impiety like that of Lucian, {2 } a most pernicious leaven, or rather a worse than deadly poison, let them exercise this very needful caution, and apply to it all their senses.

———— –

+

Preceding

Matthew 6:1-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18 Continued 1 Charity and neighbour love

Matthew 6:1-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18 Continued 3 Forgiveness and neighbour love

Matthew 13:33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Fermented Whole

Matthew 13:36-43 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Zizania in the Field Explained

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

++

Additional reading

  1. What Jesus did: First things first
  2. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 4 Blasphemy and ridiculing faith in God
  3. Pretense — Is it practiced by people in their approach to God?
  4. Not Really Acknowledging God
  5. Serving yourself, not the Lord
  6. We Must Be Real With God

+++

Related

  1. A Sign From Heaven In The Toy Aisle
  2. God’s True Feelings About False Religion.
  3. Speak Sound Doctrine
  4. Dogma v Doctrine
  5. Papal Vanity

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Already in the previous chapters we could see how the Pharisees where interested in bringing Jesus into a bad light. We find that they again want to trick him. For the second time they wanted to test him by asking to show them a miracle [sign] from God [heaven; possibly a sign in the sky, but more likely a Jewish way of saying “from God”] (see also Mt 12:38-45 + Mt 22:23 + Mr 12:18 & Lu 20:27).

Human beings for ages made use of signs in heavens to know what weather would arise the next day. Therefore Jesus having come at Magadan, somewhere on the western side of the lake, answered them:

“·At sunset [In the evening] you say we will have good weather, because the sky is red. And in the morning you say that it will be ·a rainy day [stormy; bad weather], because the sky is red and ·dark [threatening; overcast]. You see ·these signs in [the appearance of] the sky and know ·what they mean [how to interpret them]. ·In the same way [or However; On the other hand], you ·see the things that I am doing now, but you don’t know their meaning [cannot interpret the signs of the times]. ·Evil and sinful people [An evil/wicked and adulterous generation] ·ask for [seek; demand] a miracle as a sign, but they will not be given any sign, except the sign of Jonah [see 12:40; Jon. 1:17].”

Then Jesus left them and went away and warned his apostles to be careful for the dangerous permeating power of the influence of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Only a few weeks before, and not more than a few miles away, Jesus had severely censured the Pharisees as hypocrites and violators of God’s word {#Mt 15:6,7} and had spoken of them as blind guides of the people, unworthy of notice. Yet the dissembled hostility here indicated was not first awakened by that censure, for they had already accused him of being in league with Beelzebub. {#Mt 12:24}

Pharisees and Sadducees were groups in Jewish religious and political life absolutely opposed to each other, but they are frequently mentioned together in the Gospel, {# Mt 3:7 16:1,6,11,12 22:34 } united in their opposition to Jesus. {cf. # Joh 7:32 }

The Scribes and Pharisees had asked a sign from him in #Mt 12:38, and were refused. Now the Pharisees and Sadducees make a similar demand specifically for a ‘sign from heaven’ (so also #Mr 8:11), and get {#Mt 16:4 } exactly the same refusal as before. {#Mt 12:39 } They might be thinking of such signs as when Moses gave bread from heaven, {#Ps 78:23 ff.; #Joh 6:30 f. } Joshua made the sun and moon stand still, Samuel brought thunder and rain in time of harvest, Elijah repeatedly called down fire from heaven, and at Isaiah’ s word the shadow went back on the dial; comp. #Joe 2:30 ff. Origen conjectures that they regarded signs on earth as wrought in Beelzebul. {#Mt 12:24 } Probably some Jews really expected celestial signs of Messiah’s approach; but the present request was made from bad motives. Jesus promised “great signs from heaven” in connection with his second coming, {#Mt 24:29 f.; #Lu 21:11,25; comp. #Re 15:1 } and predicted that the false Christs would show great signs. {#Mt 24:24 }

Jesus later also would warn for those who

shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.

and for those who

tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. {Matthew 23:13-36}

Also today there are people who have false images of the Kingdom of God or who present false images of the Kingdom or how people would or would not be able to reach heaven. Also to day there are ‘preachers‘ or ‘clergy‘ who claim to be speakers of God, but talk about a totally different god than Jesus had and also have their teachings full of heathen and philosophical thoughts.

For those who believe the sayings of those priests and pastors Jesus in this chapter let an answer come to us, which we should take at heart. When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi [25 miles north of Lake of Galilee near Mount Hermon], he asked his followers [disciples],

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

First of all in his question we hear Jesus already giving an indication he is a son of man. At the time of Jesus many had heard about him and some had seen him at work, but where not quite sure who he really was. Some said Jeshua (Jesus) was John the Baptist whilst others said he was the returned Elijah, who they expected in the end times [Mal. 4:5], and still others said he was Jeremiah or one of the prophets [Deut. 18:15]. {Matthew 16:13-14}

We find Simon Peter giving the reply which should also be on our lips, namely that Jesus is

the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God. {Matthew 16:16}

Jesus called Simon son of Jonah blessed, because no person had taught him that. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to him but we learn that it was the heavenly Father Who showed him or revealed who Jesus is. Once again in the Word of God it is made clear that Jesus is not God. But the time seemed not yet ready to have many to know that he is also the Christ or anointed from God [Messiah].

Soon it was all going to change, because from that time on Jesus began telling [showing; making it clear to] his followers [disciples] that he had to go to Jerusalem, where the Jewish elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law [scribes] would make him suffer many things [greatly]. He then also told them he must be killed and then be raised from the dead on the third day. But Jeshua (Jesus the Christ) also gives some hope, because he tells them

The Son of Man will come again with his Father’s glory and with his angels. At that time, he will ·reward [repay; give back; judge] them for what they have done [Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12]. {Matthew 16:27}

Jesus promises that he tells them the truth, and warns

some people standing here will not die [L taste death] before they see the Son of Man [Dan. 7:13–14] coming with his kingdom.” [This may refer to the Transfiguration which follows (17:1–8), Jesus’ resurrection, or the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70.] {Matthew 16:28}

+

Preceding

Matthew 15 An argument with the Scribes – Teachers and traditions

Matthew 15 Calvin’s view

Matthew 15 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 13:24-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Field and the Harvest

Matthew 15:1-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tradition and the Heart

Matthew 15:32-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: 4000 Fed

++

Additional reading

  1. Was Jesus Religious
  2. Looking for a shepherd for the sheep and goats

+++

Related

  1. Jesus warns some pharisees
  2. Live and let live – how could hat work?
  3. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the religious elites, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~Jesus
  4. God’s True Feelings About False Religion.

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