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Sunday School Lesson For Feb. 14, 2010




PRINT PASSAGE: Matthew 16:13-27

KEY VERSE: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:16

Upon completion of this lesson, the student should know that:
1. The church is in the hearts of men.
2. The church belongs completely to Jesus Christ.
3. The true nature of Jesus is beyond human comprehension.

Matthew is the only Gospel writer that mentions the word “church”. It is immediately understood that Jesus, in touching on the subject, did not have in mind the Jerusalem Temple or any of the synagogues in the area. In fact, Jesus wasn’t referring to any kind of physical structure. He was talking about something unseen by human eyes, and unperceived by the unregenerate heart...

By the time of this lesson, both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were incensed with Jesus. It is interesting that these two groups of religious leaders were normally miles apart in their religious convictions, but now they had a “common enemy”, and they would soon join forces to try and win the impending battle. In the meantime, Jesus was wrapping up His work in Galilee and preparing to set out for Jerusalem , where He would suffer, die, and rise on the third day morning...

At this point in His mission, Jesus had told no one of His true identity. Only once before had He indicated that He was the Son of God (Matthew 11:25-27). As has been noted in earlier lessons, those who “knew” Jesus knew Him as a carpenter’s son from Nazareth of Galilee. But now, in light of His teachings and His miracles, varying opinions of Him were surfacing. Just who IS this unsanctioned (by the local religious leaders) Teacher?

It had been important to this point that Jesus keep the answer to that question a secret. But now there were at least two good reasons to “uncover” His identity: first, the Cross was not far away, and He needed for people to know just who was being crucified; second, by this time in Jesus’ ministry, the political climate was of such that His teaching time was coming to a close...

And if nothing else, the men who had followed Him for some three years needed to know whom they had been following...


I. View From The Outside
(Matthew 16:13, 14)

Jesus opens the conversation of His identity by asking His disciples what the “gossip” was about Him in the streets. We don’t know how many disciples responded, but we have the essence of the response: John the Baptist; Elijah; Jeremiah; one of the prophets...

Look at the list. It is clear that Herod was behind the idea that Jesus was John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1, 2). Jewish leaders looking for the coming of the Messiah were doubtless responsible for the offering that Jesus was Elijah (cf. Malachi 4:5). Even today, many Jews await the return of Elijah, believing that the Messiah still has not come. In fact, some look for Elijah annually at the Feast of the Passover. There is varied opinion about Jeremiah, but he probably was named as one of the great prophets. Of course, these answers were all incorrect, but they all had one thing in common: they all indicated that Jesus was a mere human. It is interesting that this was the prevailing opinion despite His many miracles...

II. View From The Inside
(Matthew 16:15-19)

Editor’s Note: No exegete can feel completely comfortable dealing with the momentous concepts encompassed in these verses. It is therefore my intent to promote one school of thought, recognizing that there are numerous other points of view that are highly recognized...

The disciples had been with Jesus constantly for nearly three years. Surely after seeing all His miracles and hearing all His sermons, they had a more intimate view of Jesus. But when the question was raised, only Peter responded. It would come to be one of the most well-known statements in the entire Bible: “Thou art the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God. In other words, “You are the Anointed One, the ONE Son of God”. On no earlier occasion had these words been uttered by anyone...

Jesus’ reply was startling: “Peter, you don’t know what you just said! It is correct, but you’re not that smart.” Jesus explained that His Father in Heaven had revealed that great truth to Peter...

There have been volumes written and denominations formed as a result of interpretations of verses 18 and 19. First, there is the play on words. “Peter” (Petros) means “rock” (the small variety); while the word translated “rock” ( petra ) references a boulder. But was Jesus pointing to Himself when He said “rock”? Was He pointing at all? This writer is of the opinion that Jesus had reference to the fact that the Holy Spirit spoke through an earthly being, and on the “rock” of the Spirit making use of willing and prepared vessels would He build His church...

“The gates of **** shall not prevail…”. Here the term “Hades” references (according to Jewish tradition) the abode of the dead at the center of the earth. The “gates” would be the entrance. The Apostle Paul addresses that general issue in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:55). He explains that Jesus takes away the “sting” of death...

Jesus adds that He gives the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter. This writer believes those same “keys” are in the hands of every God-sent minister. The “binding” and “loosing” means the declaration of what is permitted or not permitted by Heaven’s standards. In other words, the Word represents the “keys” and the preaching of the Word represents the “keys” in action...

III. First Prophecy of the Passion
(Matthew 16:21-23)

Once His identity had been recognized, it was time for Jesus’ disciples to know what lay ahead. But the news of Jesus’ suffering, death, burial and resurrection was more than the impetuous Peter could take. Just as the Holy Spirit had spoken through Peter earlier, now Satan speaks through the same man. The words of Peter were those of Satan. Satan didn’t want Jesus to die as Jesus had scheduled, for Satan knew that this would be the beginning of the end to the satanic kingdom. Jesus immediately recognized this, and looking at Peter, spoke to Satan. No, the Plan would proceed as scheduled...

IV. The Condition of Following Christ
(Matthew 16:24-27)

Two things have now been established: (1) Jesus is in fact the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament Scriptures, and (2) this Messiah will suffer greatly, die a painful and horrible death, but rise on the third day morning with victory...

The question then was essentially whether those around Him still wanted to follow; they had all earlier committed to do just that. But with this new information, would they still want to do so? Jesus laid down the qualifications: self denial, a personal cross, and faithful obedience. As for a reward, Jesus has a time and place for that...

It is impossible for one today to lead the life of a faithful Christian without knowing essentially what to expect. Jesus spent most of His time preparing His followers for what lay ahead. As workers for Christ today, we cannot succeed without knowing what to expect. It all begins with recognizing who Jesus is. Peter’s confession made it clear that Jesus was the answer to the prayers of the faithful, and the One who would pay their sin debt so that they might enter into the Kingdom of God...

Today, many are “following” Jesus, but don’t know what is ahead, and are thereby unprepared for certain eventualities. But Jesus explained that in order to follow Him, one must be prepared to place “self” on the proverbial backburner, to take up the cross prepared for him by Jesus, and be prepared to follow Jesus without reservation...

1. How does the world around you see, and react to, Jesus today?
2. How does the assurance of a living Jesus affect your life?
3. What have you denied in your lifetime in order to follow Jesus?

1. Discuss the importance of confessing Jesus as Christ.
2. Discuss how and why Peter went from “rock” to “Satan” so quickly.
3. Take the words of Jesus: “I will build my church” and repeat the sentence five times, placing emphasis on a different word each time. What does that reveal to you?

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