Highlights In Today's Reading:
Man's traditions and rules. Jesus continues to teach, heal, and feed the multitudes (chap. 15).Who do you believe Jesus is (16:13-20)? Jesus tells disciples about His death (16:21-28). Disciples receive "faith builders" in viewing the transfiguration and the healing of the demon-possessed boy (17:1-21).
Caesarea Philippi is about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It is located at the foot of the southern slope of Mount Hermon with its snowcapped peak reaching over 9,000 feet above sea level. It was here in this famous idol-worshiping place in the midst of large numbers of idol worshipers that Jesus asked His disciples: Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? (16:13). In response, the disciples answered: Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets (16:14).
Then He responded: But whom say ye that I am? Peter, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, answered without hesitation: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (16:15-16).
Our Lord then introduced His Church for the first time (16:18). It is not a building, a religious organization, or a denomination; but it is His "called-out ones" who are brothers and sisters in fellowship with one another and with Christ who is the Head of the Church.
The Church is composed of people who realize they were lost sinners, redeemed by His blood, and under the discipline of Christ who is their Savior and Lord. He has provided the Word of God as our source of guidance to become the person He expects us to be and to accomplish His plan for our lives.
A "local church" is a community of caring believers who recognize their Covenant relationship with Christ and join together for worship and service to Christ. He has assured us of its success when He said: I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (16:18).
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 . . . but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25-27).
His message is clear: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the Day (of Christ's return) approaching (Heb. 10:25).
Thought for Today:
They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever (Ps. 125:1).
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 Shortwave Broadcasts in honor of Bonnie Wilhite • Staff: Jennifer Cunningham • Government Official: Rep. Bill Foster (IL) • Country: France (59.1 million) in western Europe • Major language: French • Religious freedom • 80% Roman Catholic; 7% Islam; 1.22% Protestant; 1.18% Jewish; 1% Buddhist; .2% Orthodox; .2% Eastern Catholic; .2% Jehovah's Witness; 9% Other/None • Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord; our God is the Mighty God (Ps. 50:1).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 15:8