Matthew 16: Listening to the Right People

For the text of Matthew 16, click here

After attempting to confuse Jesus’s teachings with the mixing of traditions, the Pharisees try again, this time with the Sadducees too. This time they want a sign and though Jesus does rebuke them, He also promises a sign after all. He promises the sign of Jonah. This goes back to chapter 12 when they asked before and was given the same answer, verbatim. Well, the first part. This time Jesus doesn’t explain, He just reminds them that they’ve already been promised a sign and what the sign they get will mean.

When He leaves them, the disciples follow, only realizing later that they didn’t bring bread with them. This is frustrating for Jesus for two reasons, it seems. First, they’ve already had food miracles enough that they should know Jesus isn’t about to let them go hungry but also because He uses it to make a point about not listening to the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees and they didn’t get it at first. It even includes that He had to repeat Himself for them to understand it. It’s interesting to use the leaven of the bread as the example, because it’s what makes the bread rise and the teachings could possibly do the same for people.

There is an exchange with Peter that ends with the famous promise that whatever loosened or bound on Earth by him will also be loosened or bound in Heaven. But there has also been discussion of false teachings. Does this promise extend to Peter alone? Peter and a direct lineage? Peter and those who would teach the Gospel after him? It’s hard to say, but I’m pretty sure this is why the succession of the papacy is so important in Catholicism. It’s the direct line of this promise from Peter to the current Pope. It’s also a bit of a point of contention between Catholics and Protestants, but even this good moment for Peter doesn’t exactly last.

The very next thing he does is try to convince Jesus that he would never let Him be crucified the way Jesus just told them He would be. Jesus included the resurrection, so I get why Peter should have recognized the importance of this, but he seems to have reacted like someone who loves his friend more than someone who is supporting the will of God. He seems to want to protect Jesus from it, and Jesus reacts sharply. I can only guess that this is because Jesus just described the evolution of the people turning on Him and His death and resurrection and Peter failed to get the significance of it all.

At the end, Jesus explains that the difference between working for your own worldly benefit and for the benefit of your soul.

For downloadable study guides, click here.

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.

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