Family Bible Study lesson for April 15: Confession Christ
March 29 2001 by William (Mac) McElrath , Matthew 16:13-28

Family Bible Study lesson for April 15: Confession Christ | Friday, March 30, 2001

Friday, March 30, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for April 15: Confessing Christ

By William (Mac) McElrath Matthew 16:13-28 Is Simon Peter your favorite among the 12 disciples? If so, you are not alone. In Peter's impulsive nature and all-too-human weaknesses, many people have found the apostle with whom they can most easily identify. Today's lesson shows Peter at his best and (almost) his worst. He spoke for himself and for his colleagues in confessing Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. He spoke for Satan when he denied that the Messiah could possibly be intended to suffer, die and rise again.

Jesus' confirmation of His identity (Matthew 16:13-17) These verses in Matthew chapter 16 mark a change in emphasis on the part of Jesus. Turning from the crowds that had followed Him since the beginning of His public ministry, He thereafter would focus on teaching His disciples.

First, though, He wanted to know what the crowds had been saying about Him. (Note that He did not ask His disciples what the religious leaders were saying about Him: Their judgments might have been much more negative!) After hearing three responses, Jesus then turned the question toward His disciples. Using a plural pronoun, He asked in effect: "But you - who do you-all say I am?"

As so often seemed to happen, Simon Peter was the one who spoke up for all of the disciples. These 12 people had a better opportunity than anyone else to observe who Jesus really was. On the basis of that personal experience, Peter spoke out boldly: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (v. 16, NIV).

Jesus confirmed Peter's right answer; in so doing, He even bestowed upon Peter a special Beatitude (v. 17).

Jesus' intention to build His church (Matthew 16:18-19) In verse 18 Jesus made a play on words. The name Peter means "rock"; note the similarity to such words as "petrify." In verbalizing a sturdy confession of Jesus as Son of God and Messiah, Peter had shown that he would make good building material. Note, however, that it is not Peter who will do the building: Jesus clearly said, "I will build my church."

Jesus' promise in the last part of verse 18 has proven true again and again. It is being proved yet again in the year 2001, as Christians in Indonesia and elsewhere face hellish trials. (How often do we remember to pray for the persecuted church in all the world?)

Jesus' words about "binding and loosing" in verse 19 echo expressions often used by Jewish rabbis. He meant that those who rejected the testimony of His apostles, His sent-out ones, would thereby shut themselves out of heaven, whereas those who accepted the apostolic testimony would find heaven's doors open to them.

Jesus' prediction of His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:20-23) Why did Jesus warn His disciples "not to tell anyone that He was the Christ"?

The answer becomes apparent as we read Peter's reaction to what Jesus said next. For the first time Jesus explained what kind of Messiah He would be: a suffering Messiah - rejected, crucified, and then raised up from death by the power of God.

Probably Peter didn't even hear the part about Easter; he never got past Good Friday. It was all too much for him: This was not at all what he had in mind when he confessed Jesus as the Christ. More in sorrow than in anger Jesus had to tell him that he was speaking for Satan when he voiced his human desire for an entirely different sort of Messiah.

Jesus' call to self-denial (Matthew 16:24-28) It was in this context - the tension between human desire for a conquering king and divine purpose in sending a suffering Messiah - which Jesus issued His great call to self-denial.

Verse 26 is as relevant today as when Jesus spoke it. Recently an on-line auction site had to rule that it would no longer let a human soul be offered to the highest bidder. Yet many continue to sell their souls for wealth, power, fame or sexual conquest.

What did Jesus mean (v. 28) when He said that some of His disciples would live to "see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom"? He was speaking not of His second coming but of His resurrection. After Easter would come Pentecost - the coming of the Spirit in power, the rapid growth of the church.

Some of those disciples did indeed see the beginnings of Christ's kingdom on earth. You and I can see that kingdom continuing to spread today.

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

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3/29/2001 11:00:00 PM by William (Mac) McElrath , Matthew 16:13-28 | with 0 comments
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