This Sunday we will participate in Orphan Sunday. Orphan Sunday is an opportunity to join in with churches all over the world in learning about God's heart for the fatherless. This week we will thank God for the ways he is using our church and study Psalm 68:1-10. God is a Father to the fatherless.
For the third time in a very short while, Jesus foretells his disciples of his impending death and resurrection. But rather than being in awe of this incredible prophecy of resurrection, the disciples are distressed. Shortly later, Jesus is accused of not paying the temple tax. But this accusation arises from not only malice, but also ignorance in regard to Jesus’ identity. Jesus’ response to this accusation demonstrates both humility and his true identity.
In this complicated text, we see the disciples lack of faith in Jesus hindered their ministry and ability to heal an afflicted boy. And a desperate father seeks out Jesus. Jesus powerfully and mercifully heals the father's son. He then teaches his disciples about faith and prayer.
Having expressed a desire to build His church upon Peter and the disciples, Jesus gives them a glimpse of his glory. Jesus confirms his identity through his transfiguration and by God's voice from heaven. Jesus is trying to strengthen their faith, knowing that difficult days lay ahead leading up to his crucifixion.
In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asks Peter an incredibly important question. A question we should all ask ourselves. Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” And by God’s grace, Peter answers correctly. And then Jesus shares with him that the Church is an unstoppable force, granted great authority such that even the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
Jesus warns his disciples to watch out for the false teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Their teachings directly opposed Jesus, his ministry and his mission, leading others astray. So too, we must watch and beware the cultural influences and direct opposition our culture poses to Jesus and his Word. If we are not careful, it is easy to be swept away into believing and acting in ways counter to God’s revealed Word.
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees who demand a sign from him in order that they might test him. Sadly, all to many Christians relate to God in a similar way. Demanding signs as a means of determining his will or trying to establish faith in Him. The only way one comes to faith in Christ is through the work of the Spirit enlightening darkened minds. Without this, the cross is folly.
The way we treat each other in the church should be informed and modeled after how God in Christ has loved and forgiven us. We are to walk in love with one another, forgiving each other, giving no room for the devil to divide us. One of the primary ways the devil brings harm to the church is through angry or evil speech. However, our speech should be wholesome, not self willed and useful for building others up.
The miracle of the feeding of five thousand points to something greater than a mere meal. The miracle points us to the Giver who is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the fulfillment of what manna in the desert was pointing to, the real bread from heaven. Jesus' body is the means by which we are reconciled unto God.
In life and in death, John the Baptist was a forerunner to Jesus Christ. He prepared the way for Jesus. And his life pointed to the one who would come after him who was greater than he. Both John and Jesus were murdered. But Jesus, unlike John, rose from the grave. And His resurrection has changed everything.