In Today's Scripture Reading:
Scribes and Pharisees rebuked; 4,000 fed; the leaven; Peter's confession; transfiguration of Jesus; the disciples' unbelief
Caesarea Philippi was the location of the famous worship center of the Greek god Pan, 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 was 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 (Matthew 17:1). Many believe that the transfiguration of Christ took place here.
In the midst of large numbers of idol worshipers, 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 (Elijah); and others, Jeremias (Jeremiah), 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 (Matthew 16:18). A "church," is a community of ones who are caring brothers and sisters in fellowship with one another and with Christ who 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 Corinthians 12:27).
Strange as it may seem, some of the followers of Christ disregard their responsibility to fellowship with other believers on the Lord's Day. Unknown to them, their spiritual influence with their own family becomes weak and ineffective. Still worse, too often they desecrate the Lord's Day for selfish pleasures.
In striking contrast, Christ also loved the 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 (Ephesians 5:25-27; also I Corinthians 1:10).
16:6 leaven =b> false teaching; 16:18 gates of hell =b> the powers of Satan; 17:25 prevented him =b> Jesus spoke before Peter could speak.
For Matthew 15:4: See Exodus 20:12; 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 5:16. Matthew 15:8-9: See Isaiah 29:13. Matthew 16:27: See Psalm 62:12; Proverb 24:12.
Pray for Country: Liechtenstein (32,000) in western Europe • Major languages: German and Alemannic dialect • Religious freedom • 87% Roman Catholic; 12% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Lift up your prayer of thanksgiving for the marvelous blessings of God (Psalm 18:1-3).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:6