Read Matthew 15
Jesus rebukes the hypocrites . . . saying,This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from me (Matt. 15:28). Jesus' first mention of the Church (16:18). Disciples receive "faith builders" in viewing the transfiguration and the healing of the demon-possessed boy (17:1-21).
Casearea Philippi was the location of the famous Pan, Greek god representative of all gods of paganism as well as the Baal god, considered to be a "lord of heaven and earth." It was located about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It is situated at the foot of the southern slope of Mount Hermon, with its snowcapped peak 9000 feet above sea level, the "highest mountain" in the promised land (Matt. 17:1). Many believe that the transfiguration of Christ took place here.
In the midst of large numbers of idol worshipers in Caesarea-Philippi, Jesus asked His disciples: Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? 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. But when He said: But whom say ye that I am? — without hesitation, Peter said: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (16:13-16).
Our Lord then introduced the word Church for the first time (Matt. 16:18). Christ is the Head of the Church. The Church is composed of people redeemed by His blood and committed to Jesus as their Savior and Lord under the discipline of the Word of God. They recognize their responsibility to help one another in living their covenant relationship with Christ since the Church is the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:27). The local "church" is a community of ones who are caring brothers and sisters in fellowship with one another seeking to be witnesses unto Me (Christ) . . . and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Strange as it may seem, some who claim to be Christians disregard their fellowship with other believers in worship on the Lord's Day. Unknown to them, their spiritual influence and testimony with their own family and others becomes weak and ineffective. Still worse, they desecrate the Lord's Day for selfish pleasures.
In striking contrast, Christ also loved the (True) Church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25-27; also I Cor. 1:10).
Thought for Today:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another . . . For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:25-26).
16:6 leaven false teaching; 16:18 gates of hell the powers of Satan; 17:25 prevented him Jesus anticipated what Peter would say and spoke before Peter could.
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.
Pray for International Broadcasts sponsored by Phillip A. Stout • Bible Pathway Printer: Ambrose Printing Staff, Nashville TN • Government Official: Rep. Bill Foster (IL) • Country: Congo, Republic of the (2 million) in west-central Africa • Major languages: French and Lingala • Limited religious freedom, but government hostility has lessened • 41% Roman Catholic; 20% fetishism and belief in ancestral spirits; 17% Protestant; 9% cults • Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord for the privilege of publishing His Word (Ps. 68:11).
Memory Verse for the Week: James 5:10