Matthew 16

Read Matthew 16.

Problems–they’re part of life, but nobody wants them.

At the end of Matthew 16 here, Jesus told the disciples that big problems awaited him in Jerusalem. In verse 21 he told the disciples that he would “suffer many things… and… be killed.” He told them that he “must” (2x) do these things. That expression “must” indicates that this is what God had willed for him.

When Peter rebuked Jesus in verse 22, Jesus returned an even more intense rebuke (v. 23), calling him Satan.

Then Jesus went on to say that all disciples “must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (v. 24). This does not mean dying for your own sins but that the followers of Christ will suffer just as Christ himself suffered.

Within the problems you and I face in life are lessons about following Jesus. The main lesson in every problem we face in life is self denial (v. 24, “deny themselves”). The anger or fear or frustration you feel about your problems rises from a sense of entitlement. “This shouldn’t have happened to me,” we think. “It’s not right!”

Jesus could have said that when he went to the cross and he would have been 100% correct. But God’s will compelled him to face these problems for our salvation.

And, like all master-disciple situations, it is our turn to do what the master did–to suffer (even unjustly) but be faithful according to the will of God.

Are you facing any problems today? Will you persevere through them, keeping your faith despite the pain, praising God and looking to him for help?

Matthew 16

Today we’re scheduled to read Matthew 16.

As Jesus lived on this earth, he healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, fed thousands of people with one kid’s tiny lunch, explained the scriptures, told people what they were thinking without them saying a word. All of these things point to someone of extraordinary spiritual power. Yet, after doing these things–some of them many times over–the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign (v. 1). It is extraordinary that these two groups of people would combine forces to do this. There was more bad blood between them than between our Repubicrats and Democans yet they agreed that Jesus needed to come up with more proof to authenticate his message. Jesus denounced them; they could predict the weather based on the color of the sky but they couldn’t see that he had the power of God working through him (vv 2-4). He had done so many signs already; if they still weren’t convinced, one more or a thousand more would make no difference.

Even the disciples forgot that Jesus can make bread whenever it is needed and, thus, they missed the point of Christ’s warning about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (vv. 8-12). But, when called on by Jesus to state who he was, Peter spoke the truth (vv. 13-20) and they began to learn more of God’s plan for Jesus’ life (vv. 21-28).

Think about your own life and walk with God. Surely there are times when something happened to you that showed you that God was with you and loved you. It doesn’t take a miracle to see the power of God at work in our lives and even miracles do not expel the doubts and skepticism of unbelievers. If you’re in a place of questioning God and doubting him in some way, you may be tempted to ask God for a sign. But the greatest sign humanity has ever received was “the sign of Jonah” (v. 4), an obscure reference to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It may feel like God has forgotten you or abandoned you or is oppressing you, but take heart–Jesus is alive and his plan is in tact. Suffering is part of living in a sin-cursed world and God’s plan for us is to live through it so that we trust him more. You don’t need a sign of God’s working in your life; you need to trust what he’s already done and walk by faith in who he is.