Grab Your Bible and Open Up to Matthew 16:1-12. Then, think through these short paragraphs that attempt to explain these first 12 verses of Matthew 16. Come to Cornerstone Church this Sunday as we tackle Matthew 16:13-28:
1) Dangerous Teachers Drop Seeds of Doubt (16:1-4):
a. Two groups that hate each other will often bond to kill a common enemy. How else could the Fascists and Communists momentarily unite in WWII if it were not their common desire to claim portions of Poland? Similarly, the loathing between the Pharisees and Sadducees subsided just long enough to question, confront and ultimate crucify Jesus of Nazareth in order to cause His followers to doubt (16:1).
b. Jesus’ ministry and message had attacked both groups. Jesus argued the Temple was redundant and unnecessary in light of the great Temple (Jesus Himself) arriving (see Matthew 12:6). This attacked the power and clout of the governing Sadducees. Likewise, Jesus’ refusal to accept the teachings of the much-more orthodox Pharisees created another rift. The Pharisees believed strict adherence to the Law was the only means to receive God’s mercy to heal their land and remove their enemies. Jesus, however, said mercy was to come to the unrighteous, not the righteous (or more pointedly, those who thought they were righteous, Matthew 9:13).
c. Thus, in order to limit Jesus’ support and undercut his disciple-making ministry, they demanded more signs, hoping to raise doubts among those who were beginning to accept Jesus’ teachings. Jesus refused to pander to their silly tactics, and reiterated the “sign” that mattered was his future death and resurrection (much like Jonah’s 3 day death-to-life like stint in the fish’s belly). Thus, Jesus’ final word was that any person with the eyes of faith could plainly see God’s Kingdom was on the move (16:2-4).
2) Dangerous Teachers Know that Small Influences can have Large Effects (5-12):
a. Clearly, the disciples were struggling to leave behind the teachings of the Pharisees (15:12) and other religious leaders. Hence, Jesus repeatedly warned the disciples to not be poisoned by the teachings of the modern day religious.
b. Like yeast, someone who believes one small piece of bad teaching can quickly be consumed with a lot of hot air. Instead of imbibing the teachings of the Pharisees, we should put our trust in the one who can miraculously bring bread from heaven (12:8-12).
a. Beware of those who try and bring a wedge between you and Jesus. Satan will use any means necessary to make you doubt Christ’s love and His sacrifice for us on the cross of Calvary and His subsequent victory of sin, death, and hell. Sometimes it’s other teachers. Sometimes it’s family. Sometimes it’s our own sinful temptations. Trust Christ; he alone is the Bread of Life.
b. Jesus’ Words offer life; no human tradition can replace God’s Word. Neither Oprah or Dr. Phil nor Rush Limbaugh have the words of life. Even a small portion of false teaching has the potential to bring about great harm. Be Bible-saturated people. Read books that help you love the Scriptures. Beware of movies, TV shows, professors, and other literature that call into question the accuracy of God’s Word in all that it teaches. (Check out the latter half of Psalm 19 for a good reminder of the blessings that flow from God's Word.)