Often people, much like the Pharisees, wish to lift up or tear down the person, when it is Messiah who is to be lifted up, and not the person. Jesus understood this truth, but it is the rest of the world that takes a while to learn and understand this concept as revelation is slowly revealed over time to Believers.
Pharisees Senseless Pride Triggers Unity’s Shadow
Matthew 16:1, Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him [Jesus] asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. (NKJV) The Pharisees, whose name means separatists, from parash, meaning to separate, were mostly concerned with religion and were more of a philosophic sect than a political group, calling members of their party chabherim, which means neighbors, adding to the power they had through influence over those who were not members of their party. Before they were called Pharisees, they were called Assideans (chacidhim) and believed themselves to be the saints of God and thought they were His peculiar treasure, viewing any association with the heathen of Rome who practiced idolatry as faithlessness to Yahweh. When the Sadducees began to rise in political power is when the Assideans (saints) began to call themselves Pharisees, or separatists.
By the time of the New Testament, the Herodians (Galilean Sadducees), who had made a political alliance with the Roman government, and the Sadducees, who were career politicians by inheritance, held all the political power, while the Pharisees were the influencers of the common people. The Pharisees and the Sadducees did not get along because their views opposed each other. The common people were more into the superstitions and manmade customs of the Pharisees while the educated people were more into the atheism of the Sadducees. The Pharisees knew the miracles of previous prophets, so they did not see anything Jesus was doing as more than the workings of miracles, while the Sadducees did not believe in any spirits, godly or satanic. The Sadducees were only concerned with things of the world and thought the Lord’s power only went as far as hunger and diseases within the body. On this occasion, however, the Pharisees and the Sadducees teamed up, putting their differences aside to attack their common enemy, Jesus.
The teachings of Jesus got in the way of both parties, endangering the power the kingdom of darkness had over Israel. The rabbis believed demons and false gods had power to perform miracles on earth, but only God could give signs from heaven, such as manna in Moses’ time: Exodus 16:4, Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” (NKJV)
Another sign from heaven is the lightning and thunder that came from Samuel’s word: 1 Samuel 12:16-25, “Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the Lord, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking a king for yourselves.”
So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” (NKJV)
A third sign from heaven is when Isaiah had caused the shadow to go back ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz. Isaiah 38:8, Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down. (NKJV) Israel will again surely see signs from heaven in the sight of a king, although, these three signs are not the type of signs from heaven the Pharisees and Sadducees should have been desiring to see, and neither will they desire the proper sign again until they see the Sign coming from heaven with all His saints.
The motivation of the Pharisees and Sadducees to see a sign from heaven was to tempt Jesus, which can mean to try or test, and is from the root word peira, meaning to test as in endeavor, scrutinize, entice or discipline. Tempt is the Greek word πειράζοντες and only occurs 6 times in this context, here and Mark 8:11, as well as Mark 10:2 and Matthew 19:3, The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Luke 11:16, (A House Divided Cannot Stand) Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. John 8:6, This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. (NKJV)
Matthew 16:2-3, He [Jesus] answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” (NKJV) Jesus was referring to all the Old Testament scriptures, signs and feasts, along with their coinciding signs in the sky, that point to Messiah, and how those in power were mostly concerned with worldly matters and had no revelation that heaven was upon them, that the Kingdom of heaven had come to earth, they looked to the sky for signs to tell them the coming weather, but they did not look to heaven for signs to tell them the coming Messiah. Jesus was also referencing the two most common and most popular signs, when the sky is red in the evening, the coldness of the night compresses the thinner vapors, so no storm occurs, even though there is wind, and, in contrast, when in the morning, the sky is red and dark, the thick vapors burst into a storm by the heat of the sun. This is a reference to two different days, one has a windy Spiritual Kingdom and the next day has a treacherous storm, yet both are predicted upon two different specific stars.
Matthew 16:4, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He [Jesus] left them and departed. (NKJV) The word wicked is used in this context 15 times and every time it means evil. Israel was in a marriage covenant with God and here Jesus is saying God’s chosen people are adulterers, cheating on God with the ways of the world. Had they not been cheating on God with the world, they would have known the signs that were happening and had happened to show them Jesus is the Messiah, and they would not be asking Jesus for a sign but would realize that Jesus is their Sign. Jesus had already mentioned this sign of Jonah the prophet to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12:39-42, and when God says something twice, it is a concrete sign of His will to have it come to pass shortly. What they did not realize is Jesus was prophesying to them, not only about His death and resurrection as Jonah was three days and nights so will Jesus be three days and nights, but about their soon coming unrepentance and destruction, even though they had a choice between the evening sky and morning sky, because they were being given time to repent if they would listen to Jesus, just like Nineveh was given time to repent and their destruction was averted after they listened to the prophet Jonah and they repented. Jesus was not about to waste any more of His time telling the unbelievers the same truth over and over again, it would just lead to endless attacks and one-sided arguments, they may believe in the future, but Jesus did His part and dropped the seed of truth that God willed Him to drop.
Matthew 16:5-6, Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” (NKJV) Jesus’ disciples had recently witnessed a miracle where Jesus multiplied fish and loaves of bread, and they had 7 baskets of bread left over, but by the time they had come to this point in their journey, all that leftover bread was gone. They had spent some time away from Jesus as He was dealing with the Pharisees and Sadducees and they were not yet wise in the Spirit, having used up all their resources and not yet thought ahead of time and had not went to find more. They were still concerned more with the world than with the spiritual, so they assumed Jesus was talking about the actual yeast used in making bread, they had laws not to use gentile yeast because it was impure as opposed to their standards of food, and they were assuming this is also what Jesus was talking about with the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus laying down religious rules for His disciples food, but they should have known from what Jesus said about washing hands and not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of his mouth defiles a man, that Jesus was not talking about physical food.
Matthew 16:7-12, And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (NKJV) Jesus called them “you of little faith’ because they had so soon forgotten Jesus’ ability to take care of their needs while He is with them, plus they had begun to worry because they had messed up, which is the beginning of unbelief, then they began to point fingers at each other, arguing amongst themselves as to who was to blame. Jesus makes a distinction between the two types of baskets, which seems to imply He is letting them know they could not have taken those large baskets with them anyway, the large baskets most likely belonged to the natives and were given back to them full of bread, hinting the disciples should have figured out Jesus was not talking about actual yeast and bread because Jesus knew they would have no bread leftover when He returned. But Jesus’ disciples, and the rest of us, are taught by the Spirit in gradual revelations along our walk with God as we move ever closer toward the Spirit and away from the world. The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees were both designed to lift up or tear down the person, either by praise of men or by condemnation of men.
Matthew 16:13-20, When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. (NKJV) Jesus was not really concerned with what men thought about Him, He just wanted His disciples to admit with their words, to speak out loud from their heart, that Jesus is the Messiah because this would make them Believers, chosen by His Father in heaven. Men will try to persuade other men what they want them to believe based on their own pride or based on doctrines of demons because if a doctrine does not come from Jesus’ Father in heaven, then there are only 3 other places it can come from, the world, the self or the demonic. Immediately upon Peter confessing Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus blesses Peter, just like Jesus will bless any Believer. This is where people will try to lift up the person in ministry, exalting those like Peter to an elevated status above other Believers, when the person in ministry is a fellow Believer, a worker in the Kingdom. Some workers may have other gifts than some and may be able to use those gifts more wisely than others, while some may not be working for the Kingdom at all but all are still equal Believers on their way to spend eternity with Jesus, but Jesus did say, “He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27)
Jesus is referring to Isaiah 22:22, The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open. (NKJV) This was in the custom of admitting a Rabbi to his office by giving him a key, where Jesus is giving Believers the ability to teach, parent, guide and watch over others in the Kingdom, under His authority. But the current authority for each person is temporary, lest pride should overtake the person and person fall out of the stewardship Jesus has placed upon the person to take care of the part of the Kingdom Jesus has given the person to watch over. It is when the person begins to believe the person is more than flesh and blood, more than other Believers, more than the authority Jesus has given the person, that the person is in jeopardy of losing the person’s stewardship. Currently, this Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom, with Jesus at the head and Believers empowered by the Holy Spirit, but someday it will be a physical Kingdom on earth for 1000 years and beyond. The point now is to become an overcomer so when the physical Kingdom happens, the Believer is a part of it. Personally, I believe binding and loosing is worship and allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to manifest in your life or not.
Matthew 16:21, From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (NKJV) I believe this is when Jesus began to show His disciples many of the Scriptures that were about Him, when He began to explain many of the feasts and the signs and how they relate to Him, where things He recently said that had to remain a secret at the time would make sense to them later like, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15 NKJV)
Matthew 16:22-23, Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (NKJV) Jesus had to finish the work His Father had given Him to fulfill our redemptive covenant and become an overcomer, Jesus had to do the will of His Father all the way until death to finish His race. Peter was concerned about the person, the human man called Yeshua, yet Jesus was concerned about the Messiah. Peter wished to lift up the man and the adversity wished to tear down the man, both would make Him stumble so He would not complete the will of the Father, but Jesus knew to lift up the Messiah because all humans are appointed once to die and enter eternal life, and, without the Messiah, there is eternal death. The word offense means a stumbling block, how being concerned with the things of this world and the wishes of men and all the things working against us above being concerned with the things of God will cause a person to fall. Matthew 6:33, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (NKJV) The Kingdom of God is the Messiah, He was lifted up on the cross, a final sacrifice for our sins. Lifting up the Messiah in praise and worship and letting Him work through us, knowing we are blessed and looking to Him will cause all our needs to be added to us.
Matthew 16:24-28, Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (NKJV)