Highlights In Today's Reading:
While criticizing the disciples, the Pharisees are confronted for disobeying God (15:1-9). Jesus teaches us that it is of utmost importance that we consider our true motives (15:10-20). Many are healed and over four thousand fed (15:29-39) but one Gentile child is pointed out as healed through her mother's faith (15:21-28). Then "Who is Jesus?" (16:13-16). The first mention of the Church is in today's Bible reading (16:17-19). The disciples witness God's glory (17:1-13); the power of Jesus (17:14-21); and the miracle of the tribute money (17:24-27).
Caesarea Philippi was the location of the famous worship center of the Greek god Pan, representative of all gods of paganism. 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 9,000 feet above sea level, the "highest mountain" in the promised land (17:1). Many believe that the transfiguration of Christ took place there.
In the midst of large numbers of idol worshipers, Jesus asked His disciples: Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? (16:13). 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 (16:14). But when He asked: But whom say ye that I am? (16:15), without hesitation, Peter answered: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (16:16).
One who does not submit himself to God makes a god of himself and lives for himself. To take care of self is the driving principle of the natural man, but to submit self to the will of God is the first principle of the spiritual life! Self-denial is fundamental to confessing Christ before men. Whosoever therefore shall confess Me (10:32) signifies a genuine acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord and Savior and a denial of self from worldly lusts. Furthermore, it means to place no dependence in one's own goodness and good works for justification before God but to rely by faith on Christ alone and in His death on the cross for our sins. Jesus said to each of us: Take up the cross, and follow Me (Mark 10:21). If we suffer (with Him), we shall also reign with Him (II Timothy 2:12).
When we truly recognize, as Peter did, that Jesus is The Christ, The Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16), nothing is considered too much of a sacrifice for Jesus' sake, and we feel surprised when someone speaks of how much it costs to be a Christian. Christ, by His Spirit, has taken the place of self in order that His love may flow through us. Even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me (Romans 15:3).
Thought for Today:
When we submit ourselves for God's use, our lives will be filled with His plans and His purpose.
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 Arabic International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Casmir Zuranski • Radio Sri Lanka International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. John O'Donnell • Staff: Jennifer Cunningham • Country: Indonesia (211.8 million) five large and 13,662 lesser islands in Southeast Asia • Major languages: Bahasa Indonesian (modified form of Malay) and English • Growing pressure from Muslim leaders to limit advances of Christianity by not renewing many of the missionaries' permits to stay in the country • 83% Muslim; 9% Protestant; 4% Catholic; 2% Hindu; 1% Buddhist; 1% Other • Prayer Suggestion: Praise God in prayer and with singing for His Word is pure and His works are done in truth (Psa. 33:2-4).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:33