The New Testament reading for Tuesday, June 18 is:

Matthew 16

The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

16:1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them,1 “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock2 I will build my church, and the gates of hell3 shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed4 in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!5 This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance6 to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life7 will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Footnotes

[1] 16:2 Some manuscripts omit the following words to the end of verse 3
[2] 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar
[3] 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades
[4] 16:19 Or shall have been bound . . . shall have been loosed
[5] 16:22 Or “[May God be] merciful to you, Lord!”
[6] 16:23 Greek stumbling block
[7] 16:25 The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and twice in verse 26

(ESV)


English Standard Version: Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

New Testament Pastoral Commentary for Matthew 16
Author: Pastor Zach
I live in a gated community. Or so I like to say. Actually, I live in a gated apartment complex. Gates are things which apartments and communities alike like to boast about. When I first perused the brochure for my complex, one of the amenities proudly touted was, "Gated for your safety and convenience." Of course, sometimes, the gate to my apartment complex gets stuck wide open, leaving the complex completely vulnerable. Other times, I pull into my complex only to find someone idling in the front parking lot, waiting for a tenet to open the gate so that they can get in. I have been followed through the gate many a time. Indeed, sometimes, the person even darts out in front of truck and gets in before I do. Perhaps the gate isn't as secure as it seems.

In our text for today from Matthew 16, Jesus leads his disciples into the region of "Caesarea Philippi" (verse 13). Caesarea Philippi was named so by Philip the Tetrarch, ruler of that region and one of Herod the Great's sons, who modestly renamed this region from Paneas to a name in honor of himself and Caesar Augustus. This city had a long and sordid history or paganism and debauchery. It was originally the center of Baal worship, the deplorable Canaanite fertility god. The site later became the religious center for Pan, a Greek god whose worship included cultic prostitution between humans and goats. Caesarea Philippi was especially notable because it stood at the base of a cliff where spring water flowed from the mouth of a cave set in the bottom of the cliff. Common pagan belief held that fertility gods, such as Pan, would ride the river in and out of the cave, which the pagans believed to be the opening to the underworld. Thus, to the pagan mind, Caesarea Philippi was located at the very gates to the underworld, known by its proper name as Hades.

It is at this spot that Jesus says to his disciples and especially to Peter, "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (verse 18). Jesus says, "Hades has a gate. And Hades thinks its gate offers it protection. Protection of its paganism. Protection of its sin and debauchery. Protection of its death and despondency and despair. But Hades is not as protected as it might think it is. Because right at the gates of Hades, I'm building my church. I'm building my agent of truth. I'm building my agent of righteousness and holiness. I'm building my agent of life and hope and joy. And thousands of Christians are idling in Hades' parking lot, just waiting for its gates to crack open, even if just a little, so they can storm its gates and bring my message of life into a world full of death!" This is Jesus' commission to his disciples, spoken right at the gates of Hades.

We live in a world full of gates, both literal and figurative. Gates of economics separate the rich from the poor. Gates of customs separate one culture from another. Gates of correctional facilities separate the law-breakers from the law-abiders. We live in a world full of gates. But Jesus' invitation to us is to break down those gates with his gospel! Look for those times when the gates which separate crack open, and then rush in to share the message of Christ with people who are stuck behind the gates of sin and death. And make no mistake about it, these gates do indeed crack open. Sometimes they crack open during a backyard barbeque when you can have a spiritual conversation with an unbeliever. Sometimes they crack open during a tragedy when you can bring comfort into the midst of pain. Sometimes they even crack open at the loss of a loved one when you can inject hope into a seemingly hopeless end. The gates of Hades are cracking. They cracked open at the cracking open of Jesus' tomb and they have been cracking open ever since at the sight of Jesus' church. So today, walk through those cracked gates. For those gates, no matter how strong they might seem, are no match for Jesus and his followers.