- Sermon Notes
Responding to the Reality
Illus. I see a…
As we continue into the 16th chapter of the book of Matthew, we do so with the understanding that this book is a presentation of Jesus Christ.
His person, principles, power, people, parables, persecution, have all been revealed, and in the midst of rejection, even pointed Gentiles toward the
power and purpose for not just the Jew, but for the Gentile and for all.
While He has gone throughout the region of Galilee and beyond, the reality of Jesus’ presence, that the Messiah had come, for all and was out to give more than just crumbs, but everlasting life was becoming an ever-increasing reality. Jesus was present in their midst, and all were beginning to reveal their response to the reality that Jesus had come.
For both the Jew, and the Gentile, His disciples and those who were against Him from the outset of His arrival; there was no denying that Jesus had come. Regardless of where one stood, Jesus would continually point them toward the reality that He had come to save, that He was The Way, and it was imperative that all began to understand all that He had to do and say.
Read: Matthew 15:29-38
Upon leaving a Gentile region, Jesus headed back to a Jewish territory, where He is faced again with those who continue to oppose Him. Particularly the Jewish leaders. While many would choose to follow Jesus (including many Gentiles), it is evident that others would push away and reject Him. Both followers and foes had come to see Jesus ministry and understand who He was. His ministry and mission did not allow them to be unresponsive but, would require a response to the reality of His presence.
The question for them and for you and I then become, how would they, you, me, and all throughout eternity respond to the reality that Jesus had come?
I. Be Driven by the Sign God Has Given
Matthew 16:1, The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.
- After leaving a Gentile region and returning to Jewish territory, the Pharisees and Sadducees come to test Jesus.
- The last time He was in a Jewish territory it was the Pharisees and Scribes from Jerusalem who were out to find fault in Him as His disciples did not wash their hands according to the tradition of the elders.
- The Pharisees has already made their full and final rejection of Jesus official (Mt. 12:24)
- And it seems that the Pharisees were bringing anyone and everyone to partner with in pursuit of putting Jesus down.
- The Pharisees and Sadducees were quite the interesting and unexpected persecutive pairing.
Illus. What a pair.
- In Matthew 12:38, some Scribes and Pharisees had already approached Jesus asking for a sign to discredit Him.
- Here again, the Pharisees and Sadducees were not looking for a reason to believe, they were looking for a reason to prove Him false.
- In their request for a miraculous sign, they are essentially saying, “all that you have shown is no proof…If you are who you suggest you are, if you are operating by the Spirit of God…Prove it, show us a sign from heaven.”
- And while Jesus could have easily impressed them, He refused. He knew that even a miracle in the sky would not convince them, they were already determined against believing in Him.
- Their request is outrageous, Jesus had fed the 5,000, the 4,000, walked on water, healed lepers, the blind, the mute, the deaf, and the lame.
- The Scriptures had already spelled out what they would see from the Messiah.
Isaiah 35:5-6, Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
Isaiah 61:1, The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
Matthew 11:5-6, The blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.
- These scriptures identified Jesus, the One standing right before their eyes, yet their response to this reality was to refuse what had been revealed.
Illus. Ignoring the signs.
Matthew 16:2-3, He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’
Matthew 16:3-4, Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 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 left them and departed. (NKJV)
- Here Jesus calls them hypocrites, which were the play actors of the day who wore masks. He called them such because they were acting, pretending, or playing the part of denying what Jesus was doing and who He was.
- They told Jesus they wanted a sign in the sky, and along the lines of what they were looking to, Jesus said, “speaking of the skies…”
- They were able to look at the sky day or night and forecast, or understand the weather based upon its color.
- Jesus is pointing out that their knowledge and awareness of the weather is far superior to their knowledge of the sign God had sent and was standing right in front of them.
Matthew 12:39-40, no sign will be given to [this generation] but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
- The story of Jonah was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the evidence and proof sign that God gives to the world so that we might believe in His name and have life everlasting.
- The end of verse 4 says, “And He left them and went away,” They were not willing to open their eyes and hearts, to see Jesus, the sign God had given.
- For the Pharisees and Sadducees, this was the landing of their understanding, to let Jesus go away.
- Let Jesus guide the landing of your understanding
- While there were those who did not respond or understand due to unwillingness, there were others who had the desire, but in their lives needed to look higher.
- It was the disciples that needed to continually let Jesus guide and shape the landing of their understanding of who Jesus was in their lives and what He had come to do.
- The disciples had forgotten to bring bread on their trip to the other side of the sea.
- It seems to be the only thing on their minds, thought they knew that Jesus did what He needed to do in providing bread for the multitudes.
- And as the disciple’s head over the other side, they forget to bring the bread along. Seemingly, it was heavy on their minds.
- After their time with the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus tells His disciples to beware of their leaven.
- And in the midst of the insecurity surrounding they’re not securing bread for their journey; the disciples began talking amongst themselves.
- Jesus wasn’t concerned about what they didn’t bring, but rather their understanding.
- He had already proven that He could do a thing or 5,000 in times when bread is forgotten.
- But were the disciples landing in the understanding that He could provide?
2 Corinthians 12:9, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Matthew 6:24, Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more that food, and body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:26, Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
- Are we allowing Jesus to be the key component to where we are landing in our understanding?
- It is critical we are, so that when we turn to Jesus and He says “your sins are forgiven,” (Mt. 9:5) we can trust Him.
- So that when He says:
John 14:1-3, Do not let your hearts be troubled.
John 16:33, I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
- The disciples assumed He was talking about something material and physical, rather than something spiritual.
- Jesus was not worried about where the next basket of bread was going to come from.
- He was focused on their faith in Him to provide, and their avoidance of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees which was aimed at getting as many people as possible to leave Jesus side.
- In our lives as well, Jesus wants to do a work whereby we are freed from the material and physical world, and shift our focus in all that we face away from being stuck worrying about bread.
- Set your mind on things above
- Paul knew how important this is.
Colossians 2:6, Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him.
Colossians 3:1, Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
- What your attention is on is where your intention will be drawn.
- Paul encourages us to live a life whereby we walk in Christ, living in such a way that our seeking and our thinking are continually tied to things above, not things below.
- Jesus wanted the disciples to get beyond bread, to live in response to the reality.
- Jesus is emphasizing that at this point, the disciples, should have begun to understand and perceive who He was.
- It was imperative the disciples get beyond bread, so that they could here and respond to all that He said.
- Jesus was talking about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which was their distortion of the truth of God’s Word.
- Jesus had previously used the image of leaven (or yeast) as a representation of great growth (Mt. 13:33).And it was also used as a symbol for the power and influence of evil (1 Cor. 5:6-8, Gal. 5:9).
- What was rising up in the Pharisees and Sadducees was insistence on resistance to Jesus mission, and Jesus wanted His disciples to beware and have no part in that.
- Jesus would provide, He had shown them as much, and their response to that reality, was crucial to who He desired His disciples to be.
2 Corinthians 5:7, For we live by faith, not by sight.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.