Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

2nd Sunday after Sleebo - the Festival of Cross

Understanding Jesus: Matthew 16:1-12

Based on: Matthew chapter 16:1-12

Gospel: St. Matthew 16:1-12

Do you know who Jesus really is? Do you understand the message of Jesus, and what He is saying to you?

Today in His confrontation with the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus reveals the importance of a proper understanding and acceptance of who He is. This is an appropriate passage for unbelievers, as well as religious people with no real relationship with Christ.

Jesus also shows us the importance of a right understanding and interpretation of what He says. Too many people misinterpret God's word, and like the disciples, put their own understanding in place of Christ's meaning.

Understanding who Jesus is and what Jesus says is the topic of today's sermon in Matthew Chapter 16:1-12

I. The Importance of Understanding Who Jesus Is (16:1-4)

1. Don't come to Jesus with your mind made up (Verse 1)

A) The Pharisees and Sadducees came not to learn but to trap

2. Use the same standards with Jesus as you do with other decisions (Verses 2-3)

A) They used their minds to discern the weather but they could not discern the obvious fact that Jesus was the Son of God according to the OT.

1.i. With all of their learning, worldly wisdom, and understanding they could not discover this simple fact that even a child could know:

1 Cor 1:21-23 "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified..."

1.ii. Open your eyes, the answer is not as complicated as you think.

•Two men went on a camping trip. they went to sleep. Some hours later, one man awoke and said to his more intellectual friend, "look up at the sky and tell me what you see and what it means." -- "I see millions and millions of stars. Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Theologically, I can see that God is omnipotent and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow." "What does it tell you?" The first man was silent for a minute, and then spoke. "You fool, it tells me that someone has stolen our tent!"

3. The big problem of deciding who Jesus is comes down to a sin problem not an intellectual problem (Verse 4)

A) It wasn't that they couldn't believe but that they wouldn't believe!

1.i. They had already seen many signs including the feeding of the 5k and the 4k.

•"Unbelief will always find a way to reject the truth."

•"Even if a miracle should be wrought in the open market place before a thousand sober witnesses, I would rather mistrust my senses than admit a miracle." - Voltaire the French atheist

•Voltaire also said, “In one hundred years from now, Christianity will be a thing of the past and the only Bibles will be in museums!”

Twenty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society purchased his house to be used to print the Bible. Later it became the Paris headquarters for the British and Foreign Bible society.”

B) The Resurrection (sign of Jonah) removes any intellectual doubts:

Acts 2:22-24 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."

II. The Importance of Understanding What Jesus Says (16:5-12)

1. Their interpretation was wrong (Verses 5-7)

A) They thought Jesus was talking about bread but He was talking about something else entirely.

1.i. Because their interpretation of His words was wrong. They are like many Christians today who come to God's word with their own ideas and force it to mean what they want.

•"This is what the Bible means to me," is a dangerous way of interpreting.

1.ii. We cannot read into the Biblical text some meaning if it conflicts with the writer’s intended meaning.

2 Tim 2:15 "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (to dissect correctly)

•Two hunters are out in the woods in New Jersey when one of them collapses. The fallen man doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says, "Calm down, I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, "OK, now what?"

2. Jesus corrects their interpretation (Verses 8-11)

A) They had a FAITH problem (8)

1.i. The proper understanding of God's Word comes to those who have faith in God

2.ii. To understand the Word of God, you must rely on the Spirit of God, and be more spiritually minded not earthly minded.

1 Cor 2:13-16 "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For 'who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ."

•“It is one of the peculiar offices of the Holy Spirit to enlighten His people. He has done so by giving us His inspired Word, but the Book is never spiritually understood by anyone apart from the personal teaching of its great Author. You may read it as much as you will and never discover the inner and vital meaning unless your soul is led into it by the Holy Ghost Himself. You may have done well to learn the letter of truth, but you still need the Spirit of God to make it the light and power of God to your soul. - Spurgeon

B) They had a REASON problem (9-11)

1.i. God gave us a brain, use it! They should have observed that Jesus did not have a bread issue. He could make bread whenever He wanted.

● One of the IBS principles is 'observation' (observation, interpretation, application)

1.ii. Think about what you believe and why. Ask yourself honest questions about your faith.

3. The end result was their understanding of what Jesus said
A) It is very important to accurately hear and understand what Jesus says (Verse 12)

1.i. Because there is false teaching and doctrines of demons which can quickly deceive us

2 Peter 2:1 "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them..."

2 Tim 4:3-4 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."

Who is Jesus and what does He say? Get these two questions right and you will be full of joy and on your way to heaven. Get them wrong and there will be disastrous consequences.

Source: Calvary Chapel Kampala

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 2nd sunday after Sleebo

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