Dying To Find Life

Dying To Find Life

"And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? 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 teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered 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 tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Matthew 16:1–28

Weather And Signs

As the crowd continued to swell, the hostility towards Jesus rose, and He was tested again by the religious leaders. Demanding a sign to prove His power, they were aware of the miracles He had done, yet they asked Him to perform another to prove it. Jesus responded in a way considered insulting, telling them they interpreted mundane events but could not recognize the signs of the times. He declared that no other sign would be given to this evil and sinful generation, apart from the sign of Jonah, and left. This angered them further, cementing their deep-rooted jealousy and animosity toward Him. Jesus says the religious leaders are missing out on God's most evident demonstration—God the Son.

Bread?

Jesus reprimands the disciples for their lack of faith and understanding, citing two miracles they had seen, in which he miraculously fed large crowds. He explains that the Pharisees' teachings and traditions, not the fact that they had not brought bread, were what he was addressing when he spoke of the leaven of the Pharisees. Despite this, the disciples appear to have struggled to understand just as much as the Pharisees and Sadducees had.

The Christ And His Church

At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples about his identity in light of the rumors of the people. They responded with various answers, such as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, and one of the prophets. Then Jesus made it personal and asked them who they believed he indeed was. Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus praised the answer but cautioned Peter about humility, stating that only God could have given this revelation. He declared that his church would be based on this confession and stand no matter the challenges faced. Jesus also asked that his true identity as the Christ not be revealed yet, as his time had not come.

The Way Of Death

Jesus revealed to his disciples that he would go to Jerusalem, be persecuted, die, and resurrect on the third day. Peter, who had just confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, rebuked him. In response, Jesus rebuked Peter, explaining that the enemy directed his words and that he must focus on God. Jesus declared that to follow him would mean carrying a cross, as the value of a soul cannot be compared to what is temporary. However, in surrendering one's life, true satisfaction in both this world and the next can be found, and Jesus will give those who are part of his kingdom safe passage to the afterlife.

For the Greeks, a crucifixion was indicative of extreme shame. Crucifixion was seen as a sign of wickedness and helplessness by the Romans. The Jews viewed a crucified man as cursed by God. However, Jesus proclaimed that the cross and its aftermath held God's message of life and served as an example for those who followed Him. For disciples, following Jesus means taking up their cross and denying themselves daily to find true satisfaction both in this life and in the life to come. Jesus explained that by dying, a person can find their life in Christ.