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Truly See (Matthew 16:13-20)

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One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times! Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then Jesus left them and went away. Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The Kingdom of Heaven is a spiritual reality that changes HOW I SEE EVERYTHING. 

Overall Commentary: 🌎

Jesus is now entering into the beginning of His greatest opposition. In this text, we see that His enemies are uniting against Him, and He's preparing His disciples to see more than they ever have. We can see this text as revealing the hearts of His enemies and His disciples. We want us to see so we can truly follow Him every day.

As we follow Jesus, He opens our eyes to TRULY SEE.


Verse 1:

  • Pharisees- This is one of the ruling religious classes in Jewish culture. They were very strict and legalistic in their pursuit of God. They added to God's Word with various restrictions that created a sense of self-righteousness among their ranks. They see Jesus as a threat to their traditional way of life. 
  • Sadduccess- This is the other major ruling religious class in Jewish culture. They were known to be the more affluent and the most liberal. They did not accept any of the Tanak (Old Testament) other than the 5 books of Moses. They denied miracles and the resurrection of the dead. Almost the only thing they had in common with the Phariseees is their belief in the coming Messiah. However, they did not see Him as a Savior but as a political ruler. They come to God with a sense of self-focus and indulgence. 
  • Together- The Pharisees and Sadducees were enemies in almost every way. Therefore, seeing them united in this text shows their hatred for Jesus. This was likely a delegation sent from the Sanhedrin. This was the authority over the Jewish people.
  • Miraculous sign- Jesus had already performed many, many miracles. They are challenging Jesus to prove it again. They are not denying that He has power. They are now denying where it comes from. Jesus does not give in to their demands because He knows their hearts. If they are not convinced, another miracle will not do it.

Verse 2-4:

  • Red sky at night- This is an old phrase that is still known, in part, today. Today's phrase goes like this, "Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning." Being so close to the land for fishing and farming, the region's people would have known how to read the weather so they could prepare accordingly. Jesus says they pay more attention to the weather than what is happening.
  • Adulterous generation- This doesn't mean physical adultery, but spiritual. Jesus is saying they are unfaithful to God. 
  • Sign of the prophet Jonah- Jonah was in the belly of a great fish for 3 days, then came back. This is a shadow of what Jesus would ultimately do. 

Verse 5-11:

  • Leaven- This type of fungus is often depicted in the Bible as a bad thing. It is a small thing that, when left unattended, takes over what it is around.
  • Did they grow used to His miracles?- Some commentaries say how the text is laid out could indicate they had been negligent in getting bread. If this is true, Jesus may be warning that they are close to having the same attitude to His miracles that the Pharisees and Sadducees had. We must never think of God's miracles as common or expected. It is always a blessing. 

Verse 12- 

  • "Then at last they understood"- Jesus continually works in and on us until we finally mature and understand.

Top Takeaway- Jesus teaches us to see and not give up truly. 

This text shows Jesus challenging both His enemies and His disciples. He sees the hearts of both and wants to reveal Himself to them. To His enemies, He says they will see His ultimate glory when He rises again. (like the prophet Jonah) To His disciples, He warns them to keep their hearts far from the path of the Pharisees and Sadducees. It's a long journey, and we can constantly struggle with going too far one way or the other. However, Jesus is faithful. He never gives up on us and slowly walks us toward maturity. 

Further Resources for Deeper Study