Greetings, friends around the world!
Once again, this Roderick C. Meredith, bringing you this commentary on the book of Matthew. So, get your Bible, tune in, listen carefully and PROVE these things! Jesus said, through the Apostle Paul, "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." So, open your mind, open your heart, follow me in your Bible. We finished chapter 15 last time; we will start now with chapter 16.
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him [They were always testing Christ, trying to catch Him in His Words one way or another. So, they tested Him here.] asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. [They were trying to see if He would give them some great miracle.] He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' [They could understand the way the clouds and the sun were moving, and see the way the weather was going to be.] Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times."
Most people today cannot discern the signs of the times. We are living right now in the times of the end. The most horrifying tribulation ever to hit any peoples on the face of the earth is about to come on the American and British-descended peoples, unless we repent with a genuine and awesome repentance-a deep repentance such as we have never had before-because we are filled with fornication, adultery and all kinds of perversion in our society. We need to realize that, and we need to repent. Perverts are increasing their power in our society. God hates that kind of thing and He is going to stamp it out. We have more violence and more children sassing and disobeying and insulting their parents, their teachers, all authority. Our society is certainly breaking down and God is going to deal with us if we do not return to the ways of God. I say return, we have never been there-most of us-but, get back to the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Israel and the faith Jesus Christ and the original Apostles. We have to do that and be willing to do that. As you see the things going on around us, you need to begin to discern the signs of the times.
"A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, [We are a wicked and adulterous generation, too] and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."
What was that sign? We covered it back in chapter 12. Keep your place here, but turn back to Matthew chapter 12, verse 38:
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."
"That is the only special sign that I am going to show to give you that I am the Messiah, the Son of God. This is it."
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish…"
People make jokes about Jonah and the whale, and make fun of it. In fact, this fish was not a normal whale. It may not have been a whale at all. It was a great fish. Is the Creator and Governor of the heavens and the earth-the Great God who made the entire Universe-able to make a fish? Is He able to make a special fish? Of course He is! How big is your God? Do you have a little "hip pocket" God who can't do anything? God made that fish-and that fish swallowed Jonah.
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man [Christ] be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." [In the grave]
That is the identifying sign He gave. Yet our so-called Christian tradition of Good Friday and Easter Sunday-which is not a genuine Christian tradition, by the way-completely obliterates that sign. It REJECTS the only identifying sign that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the true Messiah. We need to think about that. That is paganism, and we have incorporated it into our so-called Christianity-this Good Friday/Easter tradition of men. We ought to repent of that. Anyway, that is the sign Jesus gave.
Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." [These two sects of the Jewish people, these religious leaders.] And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves [They were thinking "What does He mean? Maybe we have not brought bread and that's the problem." Well, He had just turned, you know, a few fish into feeding five thousand people beside women and children. Then he had fed four thousand men besides women and children.] Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?; but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." [Not wanting bread, but leaven.] Then they understood [now they got it] that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
They understood then. Christ was telling them to beware of the false doctrine of the religious leaders of their day. Are you aware of the false doctrine of the false religious leaders of your day? Do you even know that there are false leaders today? Are you aware that Christianity has gone, basically, off the track-that Christianity is vastly different from the Christianity of Christ and the Apostles? You need to think about that.
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Continuing ahead, Jesus' listeners understood that He was talking about the doctrine of their religious leaders.
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Peter had the answer. Peter generally took the lead. He seemed to be more aggressive; usually in the right way but sometimes in the wrong way. He was not perfect at all, as we will see. But he did give that answer about Jesus Christ.
Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter [Petros, the Greek word used here, means a diminutive rock or stone; you can look this up in an interlinear Bible or in other Bible helps], and on this [petra, the large form of that same word, meaning a great big rock mountain or a great foundation rock] I will build My church [It was not Peter's church. Peter was not the head of the church, Christ is the head of the Church, as Scripture states clearly in Eph. 1:22-23 and many other places.], and the gates of [hell] Hades [hades means the grave. There will never cease to be people who are in God's true Church. It was to be a small Church-a scattered Church called the "little flock," but it would never be stamped out. And the hope of all true Christians is what? The resurrection from the dead.] shall not prevail against it."
The gates of the grave will not prevail against God's people. The gates of the grave will not prevail against God's Church.
"And I will give you [He told Peter.] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
This is a rabbinical phrase meaning that Peter is the leader of the Apostles. Later, as we will see in chapter 18, authority is extended to all the Apostles to make binding and loosing decisions. That is, they could apply the Law of God to various situations and make a decision as to how to carry out its principles. They were not to make new laws. They were not to change God's Laws, but they were able to make binding and loosing decisions in the Church of God. That was proper, as long as they stuck with God's Laws, which many in the false church that developed did not do.
Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed [He knew that He was going to be killed.], and be raised [again] the third day.
He let them know about the terrible suffering He would be going through. Notice what Peter does. Some people in one large denomination think that in these previous few verses Peter was made an infallible Pope who could make no wrong decisions. That is ridiculous! There has never been an infallible man, except Jesus Christ who was God in the flesh.
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"
His attitude was: "I am going to punch them out, I will chop their heads off." In fact, Peter later did chop off the ear of the High Priest's servant-if you remember the story at the end of Christ's life when they came to take Him. Peter forgot Christ's teachings about trusting God and about being non-violent.
"Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, [Christ in turn had to rebuke Peter.] "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."
In effect He told Peter: "You are wrong, you are carnal" and "you are just mindful of the things of men." Peter was not made an infallible Pope. He was not any Pope at any time.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
Since then, those who thought they were sitting on the throne of Peter have exalted themselves and even lived in huge palaces, as if to exalt themselves like they are a veritable god. But, Jesus told His true servants: "Humble yourselves and serve the people." Notice what Jesus said:
"…let him deny himself, and take up his cross [Go through trials and tests and suffering and follow Me.] and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
Each of us ought to realize this. We need to be trying to give our lives to God. We need to take a balanced view, of course, and God wants us to. We should try to have the normal clothes and look all right for whatever positions we have. Try to get enough sleep and food and exercise so you can continue to serve God. Honor God in those ways-yes! But, don't just try to take things unto yourself for the sake of doing that. And be careful that you don't draw the line in the wrong place. Be careful, and be humble.
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, [If you are constantly thinking "I want more of this and I am going to exalt myself here," you will lose your life, my friends.] but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
If you lose your life in God's service, giving and helping and serving, and die prematurely because of that-or if you are literally martyred and killed like Jesus was, like Paul was, like John the Baptist was and like most of the Apostles were-then what will you do? You will inherit eternal life; you will live with God forever and ever.
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works."
You will be rewarded according to your works-whether you have obeyed and served God, and how much you have done to help others and the Work of God. You will not be rewarded according to dead faith. Faith is not empty belief in the person of Jesus apart from His teachings; it reflects how much you have served and helped, and how much you have overcome.
"Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
In chapter 17, we find that Christ took Peter, James and John with Him and they saw in vision-not in reality, but in vision-the glory of God. The Kingdom of God is not something set up in your heart-it is the coming Kingdom, the Government of Christ, to be set up on this earth.
Once again, let me offer you this awesome booklet, one of the most important booklets we have ever published: Restoring Apostolic Christianity. Please request this booklet; it will really open your mind to what Apostolic Christianity is all about.
Next time will pick up with chapter 17 of Matthew. See you then, right here, next time. This is Roderick C. Meredith for the Living Church of God.