SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Today’s reading starts off with more challenges from the religious elite. The Pharisees and Sadducees demand that Jesus give them proof of his identity through a miraculous sign. Jesus responds by telling them he won't give one, except the "sign of Jonah." Jesus is foreshadowing being buried for three days (after his crucifixion), which is similar to Jonah being in the belly of a fish for three days before coming out alive.
- Next, Jesus warns his followers about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The disciples are confused, so Jesus explains that they need to guard themselves against the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
- Jesus asks his followers who people say he is. Peter shares that Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah. (The "Messiah" is a person God had promised would come to save people.) This is the first time anyone identifies Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus validates Peter’s confession and then says, “On this rock I will build my church.” This is a bit confusing, but elsewhere (see, for instance, Ephesians 2:19-21 and 4:11-16), the Bible is very clear that the church is built on Jesus himself. So what Jesus must mean is that the church will be built on Jesus as the Messiah.
- Jesus explains that he is going to suffer and be killed. Peter gets upset and tells Jesus it won't happen. Jesus says, "Get behind me Satan," asserting that Peter doesn't have in mind the things of God. And Jesus says that, in the same way that he is going to give up his life for others, his followers must be willing to give up their lives in service to others.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- In this chapter we see that what God thinks and wants is often not what we would expect. Just as the Pharisees demanded a miracle, we may demand that God do what we want. And just as Peter assumes he knows better than Jesus, we may assume we know better than God. It can be hard to accept the teaching of Jesus, especially when he's saying we need to lose our lives for him. Our goal should be to know God and live for him, and to know his word and live by it, even if it's not what we think or want.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- How can you know God's will, and make sure your thinking matches up with it no matter what? One way is to read the Bible consistently so you're filling your mind with God's thinking, and so you can judge everything else by it.