Series: Who Do You Say I Am?
Message: Who Do You Say I Am?
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 78:32-37.
Read: Matthew 16:13-24 (ESV). As you read the English Standard Version, note 1-3 insights or questions
Reflect: Matthew 16:1 opens with the Pharisees and Sadducees collaborating over a question—really, a trick, a trap—they want to lay down for Jesus. When you remember that these were opposing factions within Judaism, you start to sense the significance of their having found a common cause. For probably the first time, they were united against a common enemy. This reactive nature came to define them and changed the course of history. How different the story would have proceeded if only they had been united in a mission that was not threatened by “one man." Our hindsight, of course, allows us to easily see that this “one man” was no ordinary man, but the second member of the Trinity. Of course all their attempts to destroy the mission of God were going to end in epic failure. Jesus went so far as to warn his disciples to watch out for the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (vs. 6). In a classic moment of humor, the disciples immediately think he means that someone forgot to bring lunch. Jesus has to unpack the metaphor and refocus them. N. T. Wright in his commentary Matthew for Everyone writes:
At Passover, one of the greatest Jewish festivals, all leaven had to be cleared out of the house, commemorating the time when the children of Israel left Egypt in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to bake leavened bread, and so ate it unleavened. Gradually, ‘leaven’ became a symbol not for something that makes bread more palatable, but for something that makes it less pure. Warning against the ‘leaven’ of someone’s teaching meant warning against ways in which the true message of God’s kingdom could be corrupted, diluted, or (as we say, referring to drink rather than bread), ‘watered down’. (pp. 3–4)
Bring the whole scene forward two thousand years, and we face the question for ourselves. What are the "signs of the times" in our own day? Where are leaders and teachers, official and unofficial, leading people astray? What are the true signs of God’s work in our midst? How can we learn to tell the difference, in our moral and spiritual lives, between the signs we must observe and those we would do better to ignore?
Respond: Pray for clarity.
Research: What were the 2-3 main differences between the Pharisees and the Sadducees?