Matthew 16

* The Pharisees and Sadducees ask a sign. (1-4) Jesus cautions

against the doctrine of the Pharisees. (5-12) Peter's testimony

that Jesus was the Christ. (13-20) Christ foretells his

sufferings, and rebukes Peter. (21-23) The necessity of

self-denial. (24-28)

1-4 The Pharisees and Sadducees were opposed to each other in

principles and in conduct; yet they joined against Christ. But

they desired a sign of their own choosing: they despised those

signs which relieved the necessity of the sick and sorrowful,

and called for something else which would gratify the curiosity

of the proud. It is great hypocrisy, when we slight the signs of

God's ordaining, to seek for signs of our own devising.
5-12 Christ speaks of spiritual things under a similitude, and

the disciples misunderstand him of carnal things. He took it ill

that they should think him as thoughtful about bread as they

were; that they should be so little acquainted with his way of

preaching. Then understood they what he meant. Christ teaches by

the Spirit of wisdom in the heart, opening the understanding to

the Spirit of revelation in the word.
13-20 Peter, for himself and his brethren, said that they were

assured of our Lord's being the promised Messiah, the Son of the

living God. This showed that they believed Jesus to be more than

man. Our Lord declared Peter to be blessed, as the teaching of

God made him differ from his unbelieving countrymen. Christ

added that he had named him Peter, in allusion to his stability

or firmness in professing the truth. The word translated "rock,"

is not the same word as Peter, but is of a similar meaning.

Nothing can be more wrong than to suppose that Christ meant the

person of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself is

the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him

that attempts to lay any other! Peter's confession is this rock

as to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him

are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. Our Lord next

declared the authority with which Peter would be invested. He

spoke in the name of his brethren, and this related to them as

well as to him. They had no certain knowledge of the characters

of men, and were liable to mistakes and sins in their own

conduct; but they were kept from error in stating the way of

acceptance and salvation, the rule of obedience, the believer's

character and experience, and the final doom of unbelievers and

hypocrites. In such matters their decision was right, and it was

confirmed in heaven. But all pretensions of any man, either to

absolve or retain men's sins, are blasphemous and absurd. None

can forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, in

the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to

allow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful.
21-23 Christ reveals his mind to his people gradually. From

that time, when the apostles had made the full confession of

Christ, that he was the Son of God, he began to show them of his

sufferings. He spake this to set right the mistakes of his

disciples about the outward pomp and power of his kingdom. Those

that follow Christ, must not expect great or high things in this

world. Peter would have Christ to dread suffering as much as he

did; but we mistake, if we measure Christ's love and patience by

our own. We do not read of any thing said or done by any of his

disciples, at any time, that Christ resented so much as this.

Whoever takes us from that which is good, and would make us fear

to do too much for God, speaks Satan's language. Whatever

appears to be a temptation to sin, must be resisted with

abhorrence, and not be parleyed with. Those that decline

suffering for Christ, savour more of the things of man than of

the things of God.
24-28 A true disciple of Christ is one that does follow him in

duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that walks in the

same way Christ walked in, is led by his Spirit, and treads in

his steps, whithersoever he goes. "Let him deny himself." If

self-denial be a hard lesson, it is no more than what our Master

learned and practised, to redeem us, and to teach us. "Let him

take up his cross." The cross is here put for every trouble that

befalls us. We are apt to think we could bear another's cross

better than our own; but that is best which is appointed us, and

we ought to make the best of it. We must not by our rashness and

folly pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take them

up when they are in our way. If any man will have the name and

credit of a disciple, let him follow Christ in the work and duty

of a disciple. If all worldly things are worthless when compared

with the life of the body, how forcible the same argument with

respect to the soul and its state of never-ending happiness or

misery! Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain,

or the most worthless indulgence, nay, often from mere sloth and

negligence. Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ,

that is the price at which Satan buys their souls. Yet one soul

is worth more than all the world. This is Christ's judgment upon

the matter; he knew the price of souls, for he redeemed them;

nor would he underrate the world, for he made it. The dying

transgressor cannot purchase one hour's respite to seek mercy

for his perishing soul. Let us then learn rightly to value our

souls, and Christ as the only Saviour of them.
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