Matthew 16* The Pharisees and Sadducees ask a sign. (1-4) Jesus cautionsagainst the doctrine of the Pharisees. (5-12) Peter's testimonythat Jesus was the Christ. (13-20) Christ foretells hissufferings, and rebukes Peter. (21-23) The necessity ofself-denial. (24-28)1-4 The Pharisees and Sadducees were opposed to each other inprinciples and in conduct; yet they joined against Christ. Butthey desired a sign of their own choosing: they despised thosesigns which relieved the necessity of the sick and sorrowful,and called for something else which would gratify the curiosityof the proud. It is great hypocrisy, when we slight the signs ofGod's ordaining, to seek for signs of our own devising. 5-12 Christ speaks of spiritual things under a similitude, andthe disciples misunderstand him of carnal things. He took it illthat they should think him as thoughtful about bread as theywere; that they should be so little acquainted with his way ofpreaching. Then understood they what he meant. Christ teaches bythe Spirit of wisdom in the heart, opening the understanding tothe Spirit of revelation in the word. 13-20 Peter, for himself and his brethren, said that they wereassured of our Lord's being the promised Messiah, the Son of theliving God. This showed that they believed Jesus to be more thanman. Our Lord declared Peter to be blessed, as the teaching ofGod made him differ from his unbelieving countrymen. Christadded that he had named him Peter, in allusion to his stabilityor 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 theperson of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself isthe Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to himthat attempts to lay any other! Peter's confession is this rockas to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own himare not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. Our Lord nextdeclared the authority with which Peter would be invested. Hespoke in the name of his brethren, and this related to them aswell as to him. They had no certain knowledge of the charactersof men, and were liable to mistakes and sins in their ownconduct; but they were kept from error in stating the way ofacceptance and salvation, the rule of obedience, the believer'scharacter and experience, and the final doom of unbelievers andhypocrites. In such matters their decision was right, and it wasconfirmed in heaven. But all pretensions of any man, either toabsolve or retain men's sins, are blasphemous and absurd. Nonecan forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, inthe common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and toallow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful. 21-23 Christ reveals his mind to his people gradually. Fromthat time, when the apostles had made the full confession ofChrist, that he was the Son of God, he began to show them of hissufferings. He spake this to set right the mistakes of hisdisciples about the outward pomp and power of his kingdom. Thosethat follow Christ, must not expect great or high things in thisworld. Peter would have Christ to dread suffering as much as hedid; but we mistake, if we measure Christ's love and patience byour own. We do not read of any thing said or done by any of hisdisciples, at any time, that Christ resented so much as this.Whoever takes us from that which is good, and would make us fearto do too much for God, speaks Satan's language. Whateverappears to be a temptation to sin, must be resisted withabhorrence, and not be parleyed with. Those that declinesuffering for Christ, savour more of the things of man than ofthe things of God. 24-28 A true disciple of Christ is one that does follow him induty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that walks in thesame way Christ walked in, is led by his Spirit, and treads inhis steps, whithersoever he goes. "Let him deny himself." Ifself-denial be a hard lesson, it is no more than what our Masterlearned and practised, to redeem us, and to teach us. "Let himtake up his cross." The cross is here put for every trouble thatbefalls us. We are apt to think we could bear another's crossbetter than our own; but that is best which is appointed us, andwe ought to make the best of it. We must not by our rashness andfolly pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take themup when they are in our way. If any man will have the name andcredit of a disciple, let him follow Christ in the work and dutyof a disciple. If all worldly things are worthless when comparedwith the life of the body, how forcible the same argument withrespect to the soul and its state of never-ending happiness ormisery! Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain,or the most worthless indulgence, nay, often from mere sloth andnegligence. Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ,that is the price at which Satan buys their souls. Yet one soulis worth more than all the world. This is Christ's judgment uponthe matter; he knew the price of souls, for he redeemed them;nor would he underrate the world, for he made it. The dyingtransgressor cannot purchase one hour's respite to seek mercyfor his perishing soul. Let us then learn rightly to value oursouls, and Christ as the only Saviour of them.
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