Scribes and Pharisees rebuked: many healed; 4,000 fed; Peter's confession of Christ; death and resurrection foretold; transfiguration; question of tribute money.
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16).
Jesus had now reached a major turning point in His mission. His marvelous miracle ministry was finished. After feeding the 4,000 men, besides women and children, near Capernum, He dismissed the crowds, got into a boat, and went across the lake to Magdala (15:38-39) near where the Jordan enters the Lake of Gennesaret. He arrived in the vicinity of the principal source of the Jordan at Caesarea Philippi, the northernmost city of the Promised Land.
Caesarea Philippi is located at the foot of Mount Hermon. It was here in the midst of prominent and popular idol worship that Jesus asked His disciples: Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (16:13). It could have been a very troubling question, since the religious leaders of the nation all violently opposed Him.
Furthermore, Jesus had not fulfilled the hopes of the people for a revolution. Thus, some of the crowds that once had followed Him with great enthusiasm, had left Him (John 6:15,66).
In response to His question, the disciples answered: Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets (Matt.16:14). At this time, none regarded Him as the Messiah. But when He said: whom do you say that I am? without hesitation, Peter said: You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God (16:16).
Matthew, throughout his Gospel, clearly points out how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled “all” the prophecies concerning the Messiah. But, most importantly, the revelation was inward, as the Lord confirmed: Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven (16:17). The world will always be confused as to whether Jesus was a prophet or just a good man. Not until the eyes of our understanding have been opened by the Holy Spirit, can we receive the true revelation of who Jesus really is.
All who confess their sins and see their need of a Savior recognize Him as their only hope of eternal life. And, like Matthew, millions have forsaken all to follow Him. 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? (Matt.16:26).
Thought for Today:
No one will ever recognize Jesus as Lord through human reasoning.
For Matt. 15:4: See Ex. 20:12; 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 5:16. Matt. 15:8-9: See Is. 29:13. Matt. 16:27: See Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12.
16:6 leaven, false teaching; 16:18 gates of hell, the powers of Satan; 17:25 prevented him, anticipated what Peter would say and spoke before Peter could.
Pray for Country: Zaire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (63 million) in south-central Africa • Major languages: French and Lingala • Limited religious freedom • 42% Roman Catholic; 28% Protestant; 12% magical practices, ancestor worship, and witchcraft; 1% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Study and heed the instruction of the Word of God that your prayers may be heard (Prov. 1:28-30).
Memory Verse for the Week: Psalms 139:1-2