Matthew 16:13-17 ...he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
•• Jesus praised Peter for not flowing with the opinions of men, but rather for listening to God.
•• We can likewise mistakenly build our lives, our beliefs, and our walk with God on what “people say” (even good Christian people), rather than looking to and hearing from God.
Matthew 16:21-25 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples ... that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
•• Let’s face it. Peter’s reaction seems reasonable — “Never, Lord! There’s no way we’ll let them kill you!”
•• Jesus reply shows how far man’s thinking often is from God’s thinking.
• Jesus called Peter “Satan”! Man’s well-intentioned thinking is often Satanic.
• Self-preservation is a goal of man; self-denial for the sake of others was the goal of Jesus.
• The way of the Lord is the way of the cross, of self-denial.
• Only he who loses his life for Jesus will find it.
Matthew 17:18-20 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” he replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
•• “Lord, why couldn't we...?” “Because you have so little faith.”
•• The lesson? — The mustard seed was small, but it was real (a real mustard seed, symbolizing real faith) and achieved great results. It's not the size of your seed (faith), but the quality, that matters.
•• Again, what is not emphasized here is the size of our faith, but rather that we “have faith”!
•• Their problem, and ours(!), was “having so little faith”.
•• When Jesus cursed the fig tree, and the disciples marveled at the withered leaves, Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:21-22).
Matthew 17:24-27 ...“Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes — from their own sons or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
•• The principle here? — There are things that God does not obligate us to do (or not to do). However, we voluntarily do them, “so that we may not offend [others]”.
• That is one of the best biblical reasons for not drinking alcohol — that is, in order not to offend others or cause them to stumble by your example (Romans 14:21).
• That is also a good reason for not arguing about disputable matters, such as vegetarianism or the Sabbath observance (Romans 14:1ff, 21).
Matthew 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
•• Ponder the heart of their question — “Who is the greatest?”
•• Jesus refocused their thinking:
• “Unless you change...” — We need to change our wrong attitudes and goals.
• “Unless you become like little children...” — quite the opposite of the high and mighty, the famous, the great.
• One must “humble himself” — That is the essence of true greatness.
Matthew 19:3-9 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
•• They questioned Jesus about divorce — Lord, should we take a permissive stand on this subject, or a strict one?
• Jesus clearly answered by affirming the sanctity and permanence of marriage.
•• God “made them male and female ... a man will be united to his wife ... let man not separate [them].”
• “male and female” = No same-sex marriages!
• “let man not separate them” = marriage is a lasting bond.
•• Jesus gave the important and well-known exception for marital unfaithfulness. He said [vs. 9] that to divorce and marry another constitutes adultery, unless the one divorcing the spouse was doing so as a reaction to that spouse’s marital infidelity.
This is part two of a series of “Conversations with Jesus, the Son of God”. The next dialogue with Jesus can be seen here. More "Conversations" sermons can be found at the INDEX to Conversations with Jesus.