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16 They came to Him together, a band of Pharisees and a band of Sadducees, trying to trick and trap Him.

Now at this time in Judea, the Jews, the children of Israel, are a diverse bunch. One group of Jews, which Jesus has already encountered, is called the Pharisees. Another group of Jews is called the Sadducees. The two groups do not agree about how to read Scripture, they do not see eye-to-eye, and they do not get along. They rarely partner with each other, but here they are partnering—because they are so perplexed, befuddled, and panicked about this Jesus.

They asked Him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus: At evening time, you read the sky as a sign—you say, “The weather will be fine because the sky is shading red,” and in the morning, you read the sky as a sign, saying, “The red, stormy sky tells me that today we will have storms.” So you are skilled at interpreting the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times? Only a cheating and evil generation such as this would beg for a miraculous sign from heaven. The only sign you will get will be the sign of Jonah.

And then Jesus left them and went away.

When next the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee, they forgot to bring any bread with them.

Jesus: Be careful; avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The disciples were not quite sure what Jesus meant, so they discussed His warning among themselves.

Disciples: He must mean not to buy any bread from a baker who associates with the Pharisees or Sadducees. He must have given us this warning because we showed up here without any bread.

Jesus knew what the disciples were saying among themselves, and He took them to task.

Jesus: You men of little faith, do you really think that I care which baker you patronize? After spending so much time with Me, do you still not understand what I mean? So you showed up without bread; why talk about it? 9-10 Don’t you remember that we fed 5,000 men with five rounds of flatbread? Don’t you remember that we fed 4,000 men with seven rounds of bread? Don’t you remember what excess, what abundance there was—how many broken pieces and crusts you collected after everyone had eaten and was sated? 11 So when I speak about leaven, I am not talking about what we will eat for dinner. I say again, avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

12 And then the disciples understood: Jesus was not talking about the bread you eat, but about the food that feeds your soul. He was speaking in metaphor; He was warning them against imbibing the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

13 Jesus then went to Caesarea Philippi.

Jesus (to His disciples): Who do people say the Son of Man is?

Disciples: 14 Some say John the Baptist.[a] And some say Elijah. And some say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.

Jesus: 15 And you? Who do you say that I am?

Peter: 16 You are the Anointed One. You are the Son of the living God.

Jesus: 17 Simon, son of Jonah, your knowledge is a mark of blessing. For you didn’t learn this truth from your friends or from teachers or from sages you’ve met on the way. You learned it from My Father in heaven. 18 This is why I have called you Peter (rock): for on this rock I will build My church. The church will reign triumphant even at the gates of hell. 19 Peter, I give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

With Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Anointed One, the foundation of the church is laid. In the days ahead, the church will storm the gates of hell and nothing will be able to stop it. No darkness, no doubt, no deception—not even death will be able to stand against it.

20 And Jesus ordered His disciples to keep these teachings secret.

Jesus: You must tell no one that I am the Anointed.

21 Then Jesus began to tell the disciples about what would happen to Him. He said He would have to go to Jerusalem. There the elders, chief priests, and scribes would meet Him; He would suffer at their hands; and He would be killed. But three days later, He would be raised to new life.

22 As Jesus spoke of the things to come, Peter took Him aside. Sad and confused, and maybe a little bit prideful, Peter chastised Jesus.

Peter: No, Lord! Never! These things that You are saying—they will never happen to You!

Jesus (turning to Peter): 23 Get away from Me, Satan!

This is the very thing He said to the devil during those wilderness temptations.

You are a stumbling block before Me! You are not thinking about God’s story; you are thinking about some distorted story of fallen, broken people. 24 (to His disciples) If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. 25 The person who wants to save his life must lose it, and she who loses her life for Me will find it. 26 Look, does it make sense to truly become successful, but then to hand over your very soul? What is your soul really worth? 27 The Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory, with His heavenly messengers, and then He will reward each person for what has been done. 28 I tell you this: some of you standing here, you will see the Son of Man come into His kingdom before you taste death.


  1. 16:14 Literally, John who immersed, to show repentance

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