Jesus says no to a miracle
- 16:1 A group of Pharisees and Sadducees1 came to put Jesus to the test by demanding he show them a miraculous sign from God.
- 16:2 Jesus answered them by saying, “When the sun goes down, you know to say, ‘Red sky tonight is tomorrow’s delight.’
- 16:3 And when the sun comes up, you know to say, ‘Red sky this morning is today’s weather warning.’ You do just fine interpreting these signs in the sky. But you don’t have a clue about how to interpret what I’ve been doing.2
- 16:4 “It’s an awful generation that looks for a sign. But I’m telling you the only real sign they’re going to get from me is what I’m calling the Sign of Jonah.”3 Jesus walked away from them and then left the area.
Yeast metaphor puzzles disciples
- 16:5 Jesus and the disciples cross to the other side of the lake, but the disciples forgot to bring any bread with them.
- 16:6 Jesus said, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”4
- 16:7 The disciples started talking among themselves, trying to figure out what Jesus meant by that. “Did he say that because we forgot to bring the bread?”
- 16:8 When Jesus realized what they were talking about, he said, “Where’s your faith? And why are you talking about not having any bread?
- 16:9 Don’t you get it yet? And what about your memory? Don’t you remember the five loaves we used to feed 5,000. And don’t you remember how many baskets of leftovers we picked up?
- 16:10 And what about the seven loaves we used to feed 4,000. How many baskets of leftovers did we pick up then?
- 16:11 When I warned you about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, what on earth made you think I was talking about bread?”
- 16:12 That’s when the disciples finally figured it out. When Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, he wasn’t talking about their bread. He was talking about their teachings.
Jesus: Don’t tell anyone I’m the Messiah
- 16:13 Jesus and the disciples traveled to the area of Caesarea Philippi.5 When they got there, Jesus asked them, “What do people think about the Son of Humans? Who do they say I am?”
- 16:14 The disciples told him, “Some say you’re John the Baptist. Others say you’re Elijah. And others say you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
- 16:15 Jesus said, “Yes, but what about you? Who do you say I am?”
- 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”6
- 16:17 Jesus said, “You are blessed with insight, Simon, Jonah’s son. You didn’t figure this out on your own or get it from anyone else. You got this insight from my Father in heaven.
- 16:18 Let me tell you something. You are Peter.7 The Rock. I’m going to build my church on this rock. Death8 itself can’t stop it.
- 16:19 I’m going to give you the keys to unlock the Kingdom of Heaven for people. You’ll have the authority to speak for heaven. If you forbid something down here on earth, it will be something that has been forbidden in heaven. If you allow it on earth, it’s something that will have been allowed in heaven.”9
- 16:20 Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he’s the Messiah.
Jesus tells his disciples he will die
- 16:21 From that time on, Jesus started teaching his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem. He said that the Jewish elders, the top priests, and the scholars known as scribes would make him suffer. He told his disciples he would be killed. But he added that on the third day he would rise from the dead.
- 16:22 Peter pulled Jesus aside and scolded him by saying, “No way will this happen to you, Lord! Never in a million years!”
- 16:23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get out of here, Satan! You’re in my way because you’re thinking like a typical human. You’re not in sync with God.”
High cost of following Jesus
- 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, if you want to follow me, you can’t do it by following yourself. You’ll need to make some big sacrifices.
- 16:25 If you insist on living life your way instead of God’s way, you’ll be lost. But if you’re willing to lose your life for me and for the good news I’m teaching, you’ll be saved.
- 16:26 What good would it do you to buy the whole world if it costs you your soul? Tell me, what’s your soul worth?
- 16:27 The Son of Humans is going to come in a glorious return, with the Father and his angels. Then he’ll hold everyone accountable for their behavior.
- 16:28 I’m telling you, there’s no doubt whatsoever that some of the people standing here right now will live to see the Son of Humans coming back with his kingdom.”
Sadducees “were Jews who taught there was no such thing as a resurrection” (Luke 20:27). That’s why they were sad you see.
More literally, “the signs of the times.” The implication of that phrase, some Bible experts say, is that Jesus is talking about the current times for them, and what Jesus was already doing.
Jesus says that just as Jonah lay in the belly of the fish for three days, Jesus will lay in a grave for three days (12:40).
Jesus was talking about the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which permeate all parts of a person’s life (16:12).
Caesarea Philippi was a Roman city at the southern foot of Mount Hermon. It was about 27 miles (43 km) north of Bethsaida, a two-day walk.
It’s perhaps unlikely that Peter knew the extent to which Jesus is the Son of God, as Christians today teach that he is. But some Bible experts say Peter realized Jesus was somehow more than simply a human hero who came to usher in the Age of the Messiah. Instead, Jesus had some kind of unusual connection to God and was someone sent by God to teach people about the Kingdom of Heaven and about what it takes to become a citizen of that eternal kingdom.
Peter’s name in Greek, Petros, means rock, petra. Jesus might as well have nicknamed him Rocky.
The literal word is “Hades.”
Here’s a more literal translation. “Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose shall have been loosed in heaven” (New American Standard Bible). Bible scholars have to debate what Jesus meant. To bind usually meant to forbid. And to loose usually meant to allow. But the point Jesus seems to be making is that Peter, if not all of the disciples who are left behind when he leaves, will be speaking on behalf of heaven, in an effort to unlock heaven’s doors for people. This Bible verse is the key verse for Roman Catholics who teach that Peter was the first Pope.
Jesus did a lot of miracles during his ministry. When Jewish leaders known as Pharisees and Sadducees asked him to give them a sign to prove he had God’s backing, Jesus had the opportunity to convince people who could help him get his message out. Why do you think Jesus “walked away from them” (16:4) without giving them the sign they asked for?
What do you think Jesus is talking about when he refers to the “Sign of Jonah” (16:4)? And do you think he did for his generation what Jonah did for the people of Nineveh: convince the people that God sent him?
Jesus uses the idea of yeast to describe how hypocrisy affects everything the Pharisees do (16:6-12). For those of you who bake with yeast, what would make that a good illustration?
After the miracle of Jesus feeding 4,000, Jesus and the disciples got into a boat to travel across the lake. At some point one of the disciples realizes that no one brought any bread to eat. Mark’s version of the story says they all started obsessing about it, apparently wondering what they were going to do when they got hungry. “All the disciples could talk about was the fact that no one brought bread” (Mark 8:16). What do you think that says about the disciples?
When Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is, Mark reports that Peter said, “You are the Messiah” (8:29). Luke quotes Peter the same way (9:20). But Matthew takes that further. He says Peter declared Jesus not only the Messiah but “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Do you think there’s a possibility that Matthew exaggerated a little, or possibly misremembered?
Bible experts continue quite the debate as they try to understand what Jesus meant when he said he was going to build his church “on this rock” (16:18) and that he was giving Peter the “keys to unlock the Kingdom of Heaven” (16:19). Then there’s the matter of Jesus seeming to say that whatever Peter allowed on earth, heaven would allow, and whatever Peter declared forbidden, heaven would forbid. When you read those two verses, how do you understand them?
Jesus told his disciples he was going to die in Jerusalem and rise from the dead three days later (16:21). Yet the crucifixion will seem to catch them completely off guard. Why do you think they didn’t get what Jesus said in a plain and simple and obvious way?
When Jesus told the disciples that he was going to have to die, Peter had a natural response. He told Jesus to stop talking like that. Jesus seemed to go over the top, however, with his reaction to Peter. He seemed to call Peter the devil: “Get out of here, Satan!” (16:23). Now that just sounds rude. Why do you think Jesus reacted that way?
Why do you think Jesus gives the downer of the message, “You’ll need to make some big sacrifices” (16:24). No joke. He’s pretty clearly saying people will face death because of him. That qualifies as a big sacrifice. Why do you think he would tell his disciples something like this?
Jesus told his disciples, “There’s no doubt whatsoever that some of the people standing here right now will live to see the Son of Humans coming back with his kingdom” (16:28). As far as we know, Jesus hasn’t come back yet. But all of the disciples died. No one seems to know for sure what Jesus was talking about. If he was referring to something before the disciples died, what contenders would you put on a brainstorming list?