Mark 15

Jesus continues to drink from the cup of the wrath of God. He was stripped of His disciples. He was stripped of His “religion.” He was stripped of His closest friend.

Jesus Before Pilate- Jesus is stripped of His last recourse in the law of the land: The Romans.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus- Jesus is stripped of His dignity.

The Crucifixion of Jesus- Jesus is stripped of His life.

The Death of Jesus- Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1. If you have never studied Psalm 22, IT’S TIME!  Bryan did a video on this psalm last week. Here is the link: Wednesday Morning Blessings 4-1-20

I would like to point out a few things:

  1. Jesus quoted the first verse and the last verse from the cross. It may have been how He passed the time. It was certainly the way for us to know that His job was completed. What began in the garden was finished on the cross. Jesus had drunk the entire cup of wrath. It was all now in Him and when He died, EVERY sin from Eve to the last person on earth went to the GRAVE! What a miracle!!! It goes SO BEYOND our capacity to understand.
  2. Every devout Jew would have, at least in his mind, continued the text. It was a well-known psalm which pointed to the coming Messiah.
  3. Several prophecy verses were fulfilled that day:
    1. Verses 7-8, the insults. Matthew 27:39-44
    2. Verses 14-15. A description of crucifixion. History tells us that a person became extremely dehydrated from loss of blood, thus very thirsty.
    3. Verse 16, pierced hands and feet. John 20:27
    4. Verse 18, casting lots. Mark 15:24
    5. Verse 31, righteousness declared to a people yet unborn. This verse is being fulfilled TODAY!
  4. The psalm ends with the Hebrew word, “Asah,” which means “to accomplish or fulfill.” “Tetelestai,” which means, “It is finished,” is used in John 19:28 and in verse 30 for Jesus’ statement on the cross. It was also used in Greek business for the completion of a contract meaning, “Paid in full.”
  5. The relationship of God the Father and God the Son is way beyond our comprehension. Did God forsake God? Was it a rhetorical question, which was a technique that David used in many of his psalms? Based upon verse 24, I think so. Could it be that Jesus the Man was so overwhelmed by our sin that He couldn’t “sense” the Father? Does that mean that God the Father had turned away? Based upon verse 24, I say no. Instead, just the opposite! It is the prophecy of this psalm–WHICH JESUS WAS QUOTING–that testifies to what was to come because of His obedience. Verses 25-31 bear this truth out.

As we look at the cross today, Good Friday, let us “keep our eyes on the prize,”


5…Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Let us PRAISE THE LORD for such a loving Father and devoted Son. Because of His sacrifice, we are CHILDREN OF GOD and beloved by the Father. 1 John 3:1.


Mark 14

We now turn to Jesus’ preparation for the cross.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany- Jesus was in Bethany at Simon the Leper’s house–we can assume that he is no longer a leper– when a woman (we find out in John that it was Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ sister, who all lived in Bethany, too) poured a year’s wages worth of perfume on His head and feet and wiped the excess with her hair–totally inappropriate in that day, but completely appropriate for preparing Jesus’ body for burial (His own words). It was an act of abject humility, where Judas’ response was one of complete selfishness. Both are remembered in history, but for opposite reasons: Mary for her act of selflessness; Judas for his betrayal. For a closer look, go to Jesus Anointed at Bethany

The Lord’s Supper- The account of the Last Supper is in all the Gospels and we learn details from each Gospel. If you have not read all four accounts at the same time, here is a link to do so. It is a neat experience to get it all at once. The Last Supper in Chronological Order

The greatest thing I learned was verse 24, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.” From it, we learn that there is a new covenant in the making:

31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

This passage is the covenant of which Jesus spoke! But wait, there’s more! Just as the LORD took responsibility for both parties in the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:17-18), Jesus took responsibility for both parties in the covenant He made with us on the cross. From then on, all who look to the cross for redemption receive a FULL PARDON for their sins. “God made Him who had no sin to become sin (the sin sacrifice) for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial- The revealing thing about Peter’s denial is how easy it is to be caught up in circumstances. We all do it. We are all “Peter” in that regard. He had expectations of Jesus and how he thought things should go; we do, too. The redeeming thing is that Jesus not only forgave him, but restored him! My Bible heading says, “Jesus Reinstates Peter.” I like that!

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17

We all have hope in this passage. Jesus restores us and reinstates us, too.

Gethsemane- Three things to know:

  1. The request for the boys to “watch” with Jesus is from Exodus 12:42, Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.” Jesus was about to “save” Israel again just like He did in Egypt. He was keeping vigil just as He did the first time. It was also a custom, although the disciples didn’t take it very seriously–or, they had partaken of too much food and wine at the supper…
  2. The Holy Spirit desires us to be like Jesus. We, in our flesh, are too weak to do anything spiritual on our own. To depend upon our own “right arm” is foolish, senseless, and dangerous!
  3. The time for Jesus to drink from the cup of wrath began in the garden. He continued to drink through His betrayal, arrest, trials, abuse, and crucifixion. From the cross, He said, “It is done. Finished. Completed. Paid In Full.”

Jesus Arrested, Before the Sanhedrin, and Peter’s Denial- Each Gospel has a unique perspective. Be sure to read them all pertaining to the events of that night and the day of crucifixion. More than likely, the supper was Wednesday evening and the crucifixion on Thursday*. The first day of The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on Friday that year and it is a high sabbath (it has a fixed day on the calendar, but the day of the week varies each year) as stated in John 19:31. High Sabbaths (wikipedia) We Gentiles have a hard time differentiating between the high sabbath and a regular sabbath. The actual day, though, is not as important as the actual event. His propitiation (substitutionary death) for our sins is the KEY to our salvation! He truly IS the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world!

Let’s put our faith and trust in Him today.

*See Did Jesus Really Die on Good Friday?


Mark 13

As Jesus was leaving the temple, His disciples called His attention to Herod’s Temple, which was quite magnificent–not like Solomon’s, but still a feat for that time. Jesus’ response wasn’t what they were expecting! Privately, they asked Him about when its destruction would happen. WE know it happened 40 years later in 70 AD. Jesus also broadened His prophecy to include what would happen to them (verses 9-11) and events leading up to His Return. Let’s look at some of them:

Nation Against Nation- Even though these events picked up steam throughout the next two millennia, it isn’t time for His Return. Earthquakes and famines abound even today, but they are “the beginning of birth pains.” v.8

Before Governors and Kings- Jesus wasn’t having to look very far into the future to see the floggings. They happened to Peter and John several days after Pentecost (see Acts 5:40). The key verse is 10, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” This verse must be fulfilled before Christ returns. Note that there are 195 countries today whereas there were 153 known countries in Jesus’ day (based upon the number of fish caught by the disciples in John 21:11). The Gospel is reaching more and more people groups through the internet and radio than ever imagined. It is possible that we could reach the entire word population with the Gospel very soon! Every person who will respond to the Gospel WILL “HEAR” the Gospel in some form or fashion. When that happens, THEN Christ will come. In the meantime, the Gospel must be preached everywhere. Before kings and magistrates is one way to get the Gospel out quickly and overtly–whether they accept it or not! SOMEONE is always listening and ready to spread the word. I love this:

11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Wow! That’s walking in faith and in power, His power!

Family against Family- We have seen this happen personally, haven’t we? Jesus said that He did NOT come to bring peace (the peace spoken of by the angels at His birth was in reference to peace with God through Christ’s coming sacrifice) but a sword (Matthew 10:34). The Gospel would and does pit family members against each other. It is the proverbial “line in the sand,” and sometimes a great gulf between brothers. Jesus gives this encouragement, “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” v13.

The Abomination that Causes Desolation- Daniel prophesied about him in 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11. One of these was Antiochus Epiphanes:

Scholars generally agree that the first reference of these prophecies is the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who ruled Palestine from 175-64 B.C. Antiochus treated Israel with such violence and contempt that they rebelled against him. When he came to suppress the rebellion, his forces entered the temple, stopped the regular sacrifices, set up an idol of or altar for Zeus, and apparently offered swine there as a sacrifice. The Abomination that Causes Desolation

Since Jesus was referring to a coming abomination which hasn’t happened yet, we can draw the conclusion that when the next temple is built (preparations are already being made for it), the anti-christ will set up a throne in it and accept the people’s worship for himself.

The verse to hang onto is 20, “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.” There are two ways to look at this verse:

  1. Persecution will get so bad that Jesus returns before all believers are wiped out.
  2. The world is about to blow up and He comes back before it does. When we look at the destruction in Revelation, we see the world continuing on its demise that began with the Great Flood. Jesus will stop it before it destroys itself, just as He did during the Flood (see Genesis 8:1-2).

Our encouragement is that He Does Come Back!

This Generation- The key to this verse is the word “generation.” It can also be translated as “time” “age” and “nation”. IF Jesus was talking about the state of Israel, then the return of Israel as a nation in 1948 is significant. IF Jesus was talking about that particular generation, then He had to be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Both are within biblical guidelines.

“Heaven and Earth will pass away”- Compare these two verses:

31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Mark 13:31

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:18

Jesus ties it all together right here. The Words of the Law are HIS WORDS!

The Day and Hour Unknown- This verse is a reference to a wedding where the Father makes the decision as to when the bridegroom leaves to get his bride. The key is, “Be on guard! Be alert!” v33 and “Watch!” v37

Those of us who study the Scriptures and enjoy constant fellowship with the LORD are being alert both for His Coming and also His command to go and speak and give testimony and be His witnesses wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether at our neighbor’s house, the courthouse, prison, or the execution block. IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM. 

NOTE: Lord’s Supper tonight at 6:30. See OKC Brookwood on YouTube, or Brookwood Baptist Church on FaceBook.

Mark 12

This day was a day of contention. Jesus had cleared the temple, a graphic demonstration of His rejection of the religious leaders’ authority and leadership. He had refused to acknowledge their authority by answering their question, which was a power-play on their part. Today, Jesus continues to press the attack on their leadership.

The Parable of the Tenants- This story was actually a history lesson of how God’s prophets had been treated by Israel’s leaders. He then became prophetic in describing how they would treat the Son. It revealed what the leaders were trying to do and what they would eventually accomplish. Jesus also told what would happen to them, their leadership, and the nation of Israel:

“He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” v.9

The leaders of Israel would revolt against Rome and, in 70 AD, would cease to be a nation. Jesus spoke Daniel’s prophecy of this event (Daniel 9:26) in Luke 19:41-44 where Jesus wept as He entered into Jerusalem; Daniel’s prophecy also spoke of the Messiah’s death that same year, and indeed, it took place that very week. Jerusalem was rebuilt and renamed Aelia Capitolina, in 135 CE. Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina. The names never really stuck, but it shows the lengths that Rome went to obliterate Israel. The “vineyard,” so to speak, was given to the Followers of The Way, or Christians, led by Messianic Jews: Peter, James, John, Jesus’ half-brothers James and Jude, and Paul, among others.

Jesus then quotes a very specific messianic prophecy and applies it to Himself,

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:22-24

Here, again, Jesus was condemning the religious leaders for rejecting Him.

Paying Taxes to Caesar- The Pharisees and Herodians (supporters of Rome and the current ruling system) tried to trick Jesus. It was a good plan–but, with a fatal flaw, and Jesus nailed it. The specific tax was universal and heavy, and all Jews hated it; it was expensive, and it reminded them that they were not a sovereign state. Everyone was interested in Jesus’ answer. He told them to bring a denarius, which is what everyone had to pay. They brought one–checkmate! The picture was of Tiberius Caesar, and the inscription was of Caesar Augustus, the divine. In other words, it was an idol! They were carrying around an idol in the temple courts!!! Then, Jesus amazed everyone with His wise answer, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” v.17 The implication was that the Pharisees and Herodians were in the pocket of Rome, which was true. A real double-whammy.

Marriage and Resurrection- The religious leaders weren’t about to give up. They had too much to lose. Also, in their own little minds, they thought they were right. One group, called the Sadducees, who believed that once you were dead, that was it: no resurrection (that’s why they were “sad, you see?”), asked Jesus a hypothetical question. Wrong move! Jesus reprimanded them, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”  Wow! They were relying too heavily on “the traditions of men,” their own version of the law. Jesus set them straight using His Word. “You are badly mistaken.” They were warned.

The Greatest Commandment- One of the teachers of the law got it right. His question was open-ended and allowed Jesus to answer as He saw fit. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Leviticus 19:8. Note that to do the first means that you will do the second. One flows into the other. The teacher commended Jesus (which probably brought a smile to Jesus’ face). He answered along the lines of 1 Samuel 15:22, which says,

“Does Adonai take as much pleasure
in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as in obeying what Adonai says?
Surely obeying is better than sacrifice,
and heeding orders than the fat of rams.

Jesus finally found ONE leader who got it. He actually understood the difference between obeying God and His Word and following the traditions of men. He may have had a problem with the current leadership and recognized Jesus as the Messiah. I’m hoping to meet him one day.

Whose Son Is the Christ?- Jesus continued to apply messianic passages to Himself. He was a son of David (twice, actually, through both Joseph and Mary), which qualified Him for the position.

He also warned the people to beware of the teachers of the law–who didn’t really teach the law, but rather their own traditions. Jesus gave an example of their hypocrisy and a good reason not to trust them. “Such men will be punished most severely.” v.40

The Widow’s Offering- Jesus was the Champion of the people. He came for the sick, the suffering, the downtrodden and the oppressed. Here, He commends a widow woman for giving much more in percentage than all of the rich. It was a great object lesson.

Jesus was done teaching in the temple area, but He wasn’t done teaching, yet. Tomorrow, we look at His prophecy about Jerusalem and the end times.


Mark 11

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. For an indepth look of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, go to Sunday’s Cool 4-5-20. Today, I want to point out a revealing fact that the Jews of that day missed-or ignored. Jesus’ Triumphal Entry was a direct fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. There is disagreement on whether it was 33 AD, 32 AD, or 30 AD, but the date is close enough that any discrepancy is an error on our part and NOT the Prophecy, Christ, or the Word of God. For details, go to Daniel’s Prophecy

The Triumphal Entry- The prophecy of Daniel was that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem on the very day Jesus rode into Jerusalem. THAT’S HUGE! We find in Luke 19 that even as the disciples and the people shouted messianic phrases, the religious rulers tried to exercise their power and authority by telling Jesus to tell His disciples to shut up. Jesus not only ignored their command, He told them that “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Notice that He said, “will” and not “would.” The second indicates a hypothetical situation where the first indicates a sure thing!

The Clearing of the Temple (again)- The next day, Jesus cleared the temple. He had done this once before at the beginning of His ministry (see John 2:12-16; He made a whip of cords that time). He was exercising His authority as Messiah. The religious leaders didn’t like it one bit. They looked for a way to kill Him–which was precisely what Jesus had in mind.

The Withered Fig Tree- The fig tree is symbolic of Israel. The day before, Jesus had inspected it expecting fruit since it had leaves, but it only LOOKED like it had produced fruit. Instead, it was only green. Jesus basically told it, “Since you only look like you produce fruit, from now on you will never produce fruit as you are.” The next day, the tree was withered from the roots up. What does this graphic illustration tell us? In the same way, Israel would “rot” from the roots up. Their stubborn belief in their good works according to the law of Moses could not save them. They would never be able to produce the fruit of salvation and would die in their sins.

The Authority of Jesus Questioned- If Jesus wanted to make the religious leaders mad, this next event proved it. They demanded for Him to tell them by what authority He had acted. Jesus not only did not answer their question, He bartered with them, which put Him on their level of authority. His question: “Was John’s (the Baptist) baptism of God or of men?”

The importance of their answer went like this: If they said that it was of God, then they would be admitting that John was, indeed, the forerunner of the Christ as prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6, and, therefore, Jesus is Who He says He is, the Messiah. If they said that it was of men (man’s idea), then the people would stone them–they would, at least, lose face in the people’s eyes, and their opinion was precious to the leaders. At this point, the people believed that John WAS the Forerunner of the Christ and that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Christ, the Messiah, the Long-Awaited One. In not answering, they were wise, but they were made a laughing-stock in the public’s opinion. Jesus was provoking them with truth. How sad…

Jesus had already answered their question, but not at this festival. Previously, He had made this profession, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.” John 8:54. He couldn’t have gotten any clearer than that. Personally, I think they asked in order to establish their authority. Jesus would not have it. Only HIS authority stands.

It gets worse tomorrow, but we must wait until then…

Mark 10

This chapter could be entitled, “A Day in the Life of Jesus.”

The Question of Divorce

The Pharisees had their own version of allowable divorce. They also knew that the 10 Commandments said not to commit adultery. They wanted to know where the line was so that they could get as close to it as possible without edging over it. Typical of all of us, no? They also wanted Jesus to trap Himself in either upholding the 10 Commandments and making Moses out to be wrong, or upholding Moses and abolishing (annulling) the 10 Commandments. Jesus did neither, but rebuked them because of the hardness of their hearts toward God’s ways. He then explained how it was supposed to be. When the disciples asked Him about it, He explained further. Matthew 19:10-12 gives a raw account of the disciples’ reaction.

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” OUCH!

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Marriage back then was arranged. Marrying for love was a bonus at best and a pipe dream at worst. It was a commodity that one used to one’s advantage. The problem was that men had it much better than women. The new paradigm that Jesus gives reveals the true nature of mankind. We are so wrapped up in our feelings that we disregard God and His commands.

  1. Some people are born with physical disabilities and will never bear children.
  2. Some were made eunuchs to serve in the king’s house.
  3. Some choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. What??? You mean, sex is not #1 on everyone’s list? Culture would sure seem to make us think it is! When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the first thing that happened to them was they became aware of each other’s bodies. If they were like the rest of us, desire was awakened. What did they do? They covered themselves. We should take a lesson! Our relationship with God must transcend even the most basic desires of our bodies. Eventually, we will move beyond the physical desires of the body and they won’t be needed anymore. The framework given in marriage keeps the physical relationship pure; it needs to stay that way in thought and deed. Single folks, you’re already on your way to heavenly thinking! Be pure for God!

The Little Children and Jesus

Jesus loves children! He told us that we must become pure in our faith–like them– in order to enter His kingdom. Children don’t need to know everything and then make an informed decision. They simply trust the Shepherd. We should, too.

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

This man was sincere. He hoped that Jesus would bless him because of his sincerity. Instead, Jesus revealed the one thing that kept his heart from being pure: Greed. He may not have been a bad ruler; he may not have wanted everything, but he DID want what he had: plenty of food, nice clothing, money to throw around, servants, position, prestige, etc. Jesus looked at him and loved him. I believe He looks at everyone that way. For this man, he missed the opportunity of a lifetime–or did he? We really don’t know. He may have gone home and done exactly what Jesus told him to do. Since Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die, the man may never have had a chance to catch up with Him. One of these days, I hope to meet this man.

The prevailing thought of the day was that the rich were blessed and the poor were cursed. Jesus changed all that when He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (25). Instead, Jesus called sinners, beggars, and lepers to follow Him. He made it a matter of the heart instead of outward “blessings.” Following Jesus above everything else is paramount. Verse 30 is that promise.

Jesus’ Third Prediction

Jesus told them a third time specifically what was going to happen. Wow!

Even then, James and John (their mother may have been involved-Matthew 20:20-28) came and asked for the privilege to sit at His right and His left in His coming kingdom. Double WOW! Did they not hear Him when He warned them about what was coming? Did they not understand that He was going to die?!!! They did, indeed, get to drink from the same cup of persecution, but the positions for which they asked were meant for others in heaven. Jesus then reiterated to them the need for them to serve rather than be served. Why? Because He wanted them to be like Him: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (45).

Blind Bartimaeus

Jericho is a few miles east of Jerusalem. Jesus was almost there! Everyone from Judea was headed to Jerusalem, also, to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Picking up Bart on His way created quite a stir as Jesus entered Jerusalem. The celebration had begun!

Tomorrow, we begin the last week of Jesus’s life. TODAY is the day we celebrate His entry into Jerusalem. We will look at that during SS this morning and tomorrow, as well.

Mark 8

The reMARKable thing about this miracle is how closely it resembles the first one. I love the description of Jesus’ compassion on the crowd. He KNEW that some would collapse on their way home. Again, there were fish and bread. This time, there were 4,000 present, and seven (large) basketfuls were gathered, which were possibly a representation of the seven nations represented in the area. If so, then the first miracle, which included 12 baskets, represented Israel, and this miracle represented the Gentiles. Jesus came for BOTH!

v.11 The Pharisees asked for a sign. For this explanation, we turn to John 6.

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  They wanted Jesus to produce manna! Jesus told them that the only sign He would give them was the sign of Jonah:

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:39-40. 

Jesus did two things here: The first was to validate Jonah as a real person and a real event; the second was to tell them how long He would be in the grave. Despite public opinion, Jesus did NOT die on Friday, but Thursday (my opinion). The Sabbath referred to is a high Sabbath that begins the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread, which that year was on Friday, and not the regular sabbath. For more information, see Did Jesus Die on Good Friday? The whole point is the sign. What about all the miracles? Jesus even told John the Baptist’s disciples to “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matthew 11:4-6. THESE WERE SIGNS!

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod

The disciples showed their youth (Peter was the only one married; the rest were probably teenagers). They were a little slow getting Jesus’ meaning. Yeast symbolizes sin in the Passover meal; they knew this. I love Jesus’ response, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand?” (17). He even reminded them of the two miracles. He never did explain it to them. They figured it out (Matthew 16:12).

The Blind Man at Bethsaida

The miracle of the bread and fish were like the first, but the healing of the blind man was entirely different than any other healings. Jesus took him outside the town. Evidently, the man’s faith had to be his own and it took some “building up” in order for his faith to come to fruition. “Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (v25). I suspect that this verse is referring to more than just his physical sight! Then, Jesus sent him home without going into the village. Why? Probably so that he could ponder what had been done for him without distraction.

The rest of the chapter begins the March to the Cross.

  1. Caesarea Philippi. Gates of Hell It is known as the birthplace of the world, was the worship center for the god, Pan, and stood for all things worldly, including a cave that was supposed to be the “the gates of hell,” or, the entry into hell. Jesus uses this phrase in Matthew 16:18. Peter wisely declared Jesus as Messiah.
  2. Jesus began to predict His death. He told the disciples plainly and specifically what would happen. They had other plans for Jesus. Boy, did He set them straight! The “gentle and humble Jesus” dissolved real quick when they crossed Him concerning God’s Plan. He then laid it all out for them:
  3. The Way of the Cross– “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (v34). It’s the first mention of a cross and a great predictor of how Jesus would die. Peter didn’t know it, but he, too, would die on a cross. According to historical tradition, Peter requested to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as Christ did. WOW! How Did Peter Die?

Jesus warned them pretty sternly. It’s a warning that we should take seriously, too. ANYONE who is ashamed of the LORD, which can mean living a worldly life–or even a selfish one–so that no one identifies a person with Christ, Jesus will be ashamed of him when He comes “in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (v38). We must also deny ourselves and take up our cross DAILY (Luke 9:23) and follow Jesus. LET’S DO THIS!