Introduction: Have you ever been in a situation where the solution to
a problem is right in front of you, but somehow you cannot see it?
Someone else will come by, point out the solution, and you cannot
believe that you missed the obvious! In our study of Matthew this
week, he illustrates this kind of situation with those who crossed
paths with Jesus. Let’s dig into our study and learn more so that we
will not be oblivious and miss the spiritually obvious!

  1. Sign

    1. Read Matthew 16:1. Jesus performs all sorts of miracles.
      Should He perform one now? (While I think Jesus’ miracles
      have the effect of confirming who He is, texts such as
      Matthew 14:14 tell us that Jesus’ miracles are motivated
      by compassion. These religious leaders are merely
      “testing” Jesus.)

    2. Read Matthew 16:2-3. What is the problem with the
      religious leaders? (They ignore the obvious: that Jesus is
      fulfilling prophecy.)

      1. Are we like those religious leaders? Do we ignore
        what the Bible says and how it applies to our life,
        and instead ask Jesus for a special sign?

    3. Read Matthew 16:4. Jesus says that they will be given the
      “sign of Jonah.” What do you think that means? (The most
      sophisticated and obscure answer is that Jonah went down
      into the water and rose to life when the fish spit him out
      (Jonah 2). Jesus will go down into the earth, and rise to
      eternal life. The more obvious answer is that God-ordained
      events overtook Jonah. God-ordained events will overtake
      these religious leaders. The rejection of Jesus leads to
      the destruction of Jerusalem.)

  2. Bread

    1. Read Matthew 16:5-11. Why is Jesus complaining about the
      disciples lack of faith, rather than their lack of
      intelligence? (No problem they faced would be due to a
      lack of bread – they had just seen those miracles. Yet
      they assumed Jesus’ point had to do with a lack of bread.)

      1. When we face difficult choices, should we ever factor
        in the possibility that Jesus will not help us?

    2. Read Matthew 16:12. Why would Jesus use “yeast” to
      represent the teachings of the religious leaders?
      ( Leviticus 2:11 forbids the use of yeast (leaven) in
      making any offering to God. New Unger’s Bible Dictionary
      comments that yeast causes “disintegration and corruption,
      [which] symbolized evil and the energy of sin.” You don’t
      want your teaching described that way!)

  3. The Rock

    1. Read Matthew 16:13-14. Would those answers discourage you
      if you were Jesus?

    2. Read Matthew 16:15-18. This is a much debated text. On
      what will Jesus build His church? (Jesus says that He will
      build it on Peter.)

      1. Are you less certain of this answer if I told you
        that Peter means “rock?” If Peter means “rock,” then
        to what is Jesus referring when He talks about
        building the church on the rock? (It seems hard to
        give too much credit to the answer, “Peter,” because
        Jesus says that the correct answer was given “by my
        Father in heaven” – not Peter. Perhaps we should
        conclude that the rock on which the church is built
        are those individuals (like Peter)who speak what God
        has revealed to them.)

      2. What is the revelation given to Peter? (That Jesus is
        “the Son of the Living God.”)

      3. Wait! Does that alter what you think Jesus means by
        “the rock” on which He will build His church? (“The
        rock” is not merely those through whom the Holy
        Spirit gives understanding, rather, it is
        understanding the most important spiritual point –
        that Jesus is God. He is the Messiah. He is the “Son
        of the Living God.” Jesus’ church will be built on
        Spirit-filled individuals who understand that Jesus
        is God.)

      4. You know I often urge you to look at the context when
        trying to understand the meaning of a text. What has
        Matthew been doing throughout his gospel? (Proving
        that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is God.)

        1. How does that “nudge” our understanding of the
          rock? (Matthew has not been promoting Peter, he
          has been promoting the divinity of Jesus. That
          is another element of proof regarding what
          Jesus means here.)

    3. Read Matthew 16:19. Is Jesus turning judgment over to the
      disciples, who a few minutes ago could not even figure out
      whether He was talking about bread? (I hope not! If the
      “rock” is a Spirit-filled understanding of who Jesus is,
      then we can see that everyone who accepts this critical
      understanding is released to eternal life, and those who
      reject this critical understanding are bound for eternal

    4. Read Matthew 16:20. Why not share this critically
      important news? (It was not the right time. In our
      evangelistic efforts we need to listen to the Holy Spirit
      about the right time to share.)

  4. The Rebuke

    1. Read Matthew 16:21-23. One moment Peter has God speaking
      through him and the next moment Peter is speaking for
      Satan. Does that sound right? (Read James 3:10-12. In the
      past, I’ve understood James to say this is not possible.
      Peter shows that it is possible – and frankly, I’m
      grateful for Matthew’s account that shows that often we
      send out contradictory messages. But, James is right that
      this “should not be.”)

      1. Re-read Matthew 16:23. When Jesus tells Peter he has
        in mind the “things of men,” what things are those?

      2. Does it seem wrong to conclude that “the Son of the
        Living God” cannot be killed? (Peter wanted Jesus to
        be the Messiah who would rule, and Jesus knew He must
        be the Messiah who died for His people.)

    2. Read Matthew 16:24. Does this seem grim to you? Who wants
      to do this? (Recall that context is important. Jesus’
      statement here is strong because He wants to disabuse the
      disciples of their vision of earthly power.)

    3. Read John 15:10-13. This is another discussion about
      “giving up,” but in the context of “joy.” How do you
      explain this? (Obedience to God involves giving up our own
      selfish way. Because God knows what is best for us, that
      brings joy.)

  5. The Reward

    1. Read Matthew 16:25-27. Do you agree? (A sign of maturity
      is sacrificing now for a greater reward later. What we
      sacrifice now cannot compare to the eternal glory we will

    2. Read Matthew 16:28. Is Jesus misleading the disciples? It
      is now thousands of years later, and Jesus has not come!
      (Many try to say that Jesus is not speaking of His Second
      Coming, but the immediately preceding verses tell us that
      is what Jesus is talking about.)

    3. Read Matthew 17:1-5. What would you call this event? (Is
      this not a foretaste of Jesus’ Second Coming? Isn’t this
      the power of heaven being seen by some of the disciples?
      Context shows that this is what Jesus meant when he said
      some of His disciples would “see the Son of Man coming”
      during their lifetime.)

  6. Giving Offense

    1. Read Matthew 17:24. What issues do you think Peter
      considered in answering this question? (Whether Jesus pays
      His religious obligations.)

    2. Read Matthew 17:25. What issue does Jesus suggest is at
      the heart of the question? (Whether Jesus is the Son of
      God – since this is the temple tax.)

    3. Read Matthew 17:26-27. Should Jesus compromise on the
      issue of who He is? Didn’t we just decide that is the
      most important issue for humans?

      1. Why does giving “offense” matter when we are
        discussing the core issue of Christianity? Isn’t it
        worse to compromise?(Jesus does not compromise the
        core issue. Who can catch a fish with exact change in
        its mouth? At the same time, Jesus makes the
        important point that we should not offend people who
        are just doing their job.)

    4. Friend, the disciples seem to often miss the obvious
      point. The religious leaders missed the obvious point.
      Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will reveal the
      obvious to us. Will you, right now, ask the Holy Spirit to
      give you spiritual understanding?

  7. Next week: Idols of the Soul (and other Lessons From Jesus).