v1-4 - We're over halfway through Matthew's gospel, and we've read about dozens of signs & miracles that Jesus has performed and seen how all sorts of Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Him.
These Pharisees saw this and much more unfold right before their eyes, but still it was not enough for them to put their faith in the Son of Man.
Jesus knew that no matter how many signs He would perform, nothing would crack their hearts of stone.
How many dozens... hundreds... thousands? of times haven't you seen God at work, yet too often our instinct when times get tough is to ask God to remind us of his presence with some sort of sign. Instead of asking for signs or miracles, ask God to strengthen your faith.
v5-12 - This is the second time now we've paused to laugh at the disciples confusion about not having bread (Mark mentioned the same incident).
v13-20 - Jesus begins with a softball question as He and the disciples head up the beautiful mountain road up to Caesarea Philippi:
Who do people say that I am?
This is an easy question to answer, both for the disciples and us, because even now, just like then, people had all sorts of different ideas about who Jesus is.
It's almost impossible to answer this question incorrectly.
People think Jesus is their savior, friend, a historical figure, moral example, an invented idea, a great guy, a Jewish legend, etc.
Jesus is probably one of the most recognized names in the whole world, and everybody has some sort of opinion on who He is/was.
You can tell in the responses Matthew records in v14 that many of the disciples chimed in, hoping for once to score a right response to a question from Jesus.
Just as the disciples were feeling a bit more confident and thankful that for once Jesus hadn't asked a really deep, personal question, Jesus lowers the boom:
Who do you say that I am?
This question requires much more than a quick and easy response about what other people think. Unlike the first question, there is a very clear correct answer.
My guess is that there was a huge, awkward silence before Peter offered up an answer. Nobody wanted to be on this hot seat, especially with Jesus looking right at them.
But understand that all people, not just the disciples, must answer this question, and getting it correct is the difference between life and death.
Peter gives an awesome response, one that you should memorize:
You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.
v21-23 - Jesus explains the reality of His mission. He tells the disciples two things in v21:
He must be killed;
On the third day he will be raised to life.
Why do you think that after hearing these two things, Peter and the other disciples only focused on the first and ignored the second?
v24-28 - Jesus explains the antithetical way a Christian lives:
deny self / follow Christ
save your life = losing it / losing your life for Christ = salvation
gain the world = forfeit soul
Christ is coming and will reward you for what you have done.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL— Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”—and the answer from the disciples included three names. What were those three names? (See verse 14.)
Is the “yeast” still around today which Jesus describes in verses 5 and 11–12? If so, where?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who is in glory with His angels, to whom the Son of Man has returned (v27)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will strengthen you to take up your cross and follow Him (v24).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: