Matthew 17:24-25 – After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes — from their own sons or from others?” NIV
This is a strange question. Each Jewish male was supposed to pay the Temple Tax. Even though Jesus had few earthly possessions, He was supposed to pay it as were His followers. Peter told the collectors that Jesus paid the tax and then went to talk with Jesus about the situation. Perhaps Peter’s first question to Jesus would be: “Where are we going to get the money to pay the tax?” Continue reading
Matthew 17:14-18 – When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
17 “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. NIV
Jesus was patient with His disciples. God is patient. However, I believe that there is a time when God gets tired of trying to approach us and is constantly rebuffed. Jesus had imparted some of His power to these first disciples; but they were not yet able to perform the miracles that He did. From His questions and comments we are led to believe it was because of their unbelief or possibly their lack of total commitment to the mission of Jesus and/or becoming formed completely in the image of Jesus. Continue reading
Matthew 16:24-26 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” NIV
These comments and questions come right after Peter had declared Jesus to be “the Christ (Messiah), son of the living God” and then proceeded to tell Jesus how he was not going to accomplish His mission of dying for our sins and then being raised on the third day. This is an interesting contrast. On one hand Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah, and on the other he tells Jesus how to do His job! However, I find myself in this position at times. I firmly believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and yet I often want Him to do things my way. I want Him to follow my lead instead of me following His lead. Continue reading
Matthew 16:15-16 – “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” NIV
This is Jesus’ follow-up question with regards to who people think He is. It’s His follow-up question to each of us. Regardless of who other people think He is, who do I think He is? We are each responsible for our own answer to this question!
Peter answered the question right according to Jesus. I have never been sure if Peter fully knew what he was saying, or he just responded with what he thought Jesus wanted to hear. I think that he was truthful as far as he knew Jesus because he had been with him for a couple of years by this point. I’m not sure he anticipated Jesus’ response … Continue reading
Matthew 16:13 – When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” NIV
The disciples’ response was interesting: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matt. 16:14 – NIV) People were seeing Jesus as someone sent by God. They compared Jesus to some bold prophets and preachers. It was obvious that in the eyes of many He was no ordinary man. Many of these people had encountered Jesus in the flesh.
Today, this is an interesting question with lots of answers, because people have a lot of different perceptions of Jesus. Some people have little or no opinion about who Jesus is because they have never really looked at His life, considered His claims, or spent much time trying to apply His teachings to their lives. Other people have an opinion of Jesus based on meeting people who claim to follow Him. Sometimes that’s good because those of us who follow Jesus let His love flow through us, but sometimes it’s not because we don’t represent Him well.
What / who influenced my opinion of Jesus most in my life? How can I get to know Him better? How do other people form opinions about Jesus today? How can we help them form good or better opinions of Him?
Matthew 16:5-12 – When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. NIV
This is an interesting interchange between Jesus and His first followers. Jesus is talking about spiritual things, and they are thinking about their stomachs. They had forgotten to pack a lunch for the boat trip, and when Jesus began talking about yeast, the first thing they thought about was real bread. Continue reading
Matthew 15:34 – “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.” NIV
People have been listening to Jesus teach for three days, and they are in the middle of nowhere. Jesus is ready to dismiss the crowd, but He is concerned for their physical welfare. He is afraid that many might collapse before they reach their homes. The disciples ask Jesus where He thinks that they will get enough food to feed this huge crowd. Jesus answers their question with this question.
All the disciples saw was the size of the problem and what they didn’t have. Jesus wanted them to focus on what they had and if they were willing to commit it to the mission of feeding the crowd. He was asking them to remember what He had done before when He fed over 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. He was asking them to trust Him. Their trust required their faith and participation in what was about to happen. Jesus took what they gave Him, blessed it, and broke it apart for the disciples to distribute. When the 4,000 men plus women and children had finished eating, they collected 7 baskets of leftovers for their journey! Continue reading