Friday, June 2, 2017, 7:09 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 16:1-12 (ESV).
Signs of The Times (vv. 1-4)
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.
Sometimes, when confronted with the truth, even Christians, or those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, will avoid the truth, change the subject, or they will distract from the truth by talking about what is of little consequence. Sometimes they may do this to try to trick or to trap those who are teaching the truth, perhaps hoping to discredit them in some way so that people will not listen to them. They don’t want to be confronted with the truth, because it causes them to have to face their own lies they believe, and their own lifestyles, and they don’t want to do that, because they don’t want change.
Amazingly enough, many who call themselves Christians know how to work the stock market, they are good at predicting the outcome of elections or ball games, and/or they are good at analyzing everyday situations, and coming up with solutions, but they don’t care to nor do they know how to interpret the signs of the times. They are so busy with their own lives, in doing whatever they do every day, that they are not really paying attention to what is really going on in the world around them, and how that relates to prophecy of scripture regarding these last days. And, sometimes this is because they don’t want to face the reality of the times in which we now live, because they want to believe life will continue to go on as it has been.
The thing of it is, though, that prophecy of scripture is being fulfilled in our lifetime, right before our eyes on a daily basis, and many people, including many Christians are being deceived, and are falling for the lies, and are rejecting the truth. We do live in the era of a wicked and adulterous generation, which is consumed and immersed in self-pleasure, and in being entertained by the world of sin. And, there are many false shepherds of the people and many wolves in sheep’s clothing who are leading God’s people astray, and the people need to be warned, but they also need to heed the warnings. Yet, many are just ignoring the warnings, and are going on with their lives as though they believe nothing bad will ever happen to them.
Then Jesus told them about the “sign of Jonah,” which is described for us more thoroughly in Matthew 12:38-42. There it tells us that this is about Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection, concerning the judgment of God at the end of time, and regarding the preaching against sinful rebellion against God. This is about warning people about their sins of idolatry, unbelief, and of spiritual adultery against their Lord, and calling them to repentance, warning of divine judgment, and promising hope of eternal life to the repentant and the obedient. If we do not repent of our sins, but we continue in sinful rebellion against God, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of hell’s fires.
Jesus, after he told them about how they would be given the sign of Jonah, left them and departed (Matt. 16:4). Yet, it is not that he never had another conversation with them, but that he had said all he needed to say, and so he left. We would do well to follow his example. We need to know when to just walk away from a conversation, so that we don’t waste “time in useless discussions with perverse opponents who will not see the truth.” Jesus, “as it were, despaired of their improvement, and left them in righteous anger at their obduracy. “A man that is heretical after a first and second admonition refuse; knowing that such a one is perverted and sinneth, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:10, 11) (quoting from Pulpit Commentary on v. 4).
Definitions: Perverse – (of a person or their actions) showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences (Google). Obdurate – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action (Google).
Watch and Beware (vv. 5-12)
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.
Jesus, then, warned his followers concerning the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Who were these? They were teachers of the law, some of them were rulers of the people (on the Sanhedrin), and they were religious leaders in the temple. They wielded an enormous influence and power over the people, so Jesus had to warn his followers against them, and against their lifestyles, their hypocrisy, and their teaching (See also Matthew 23). Just as leaven (yeast) works its way through a whole batch of dough, so can sinful behaviors and attitudes, immorality, false teaching, hypocrisy, gossip, and the like, permeate the lives and minds of Christ’s followers, his church. This is why we need to be made aware of these things, and of those who are leading God’s people astray, so that we reject the lies, and hold to the truth.
So, as ministers of our God, we need to be exposing the lies, and the fruitless deeds of darkness, and we need to be telling the people the truth, which is in contrast to the lies, so that they can reject the lies and follow the truth. We need to confront sin in sinful humans, warn of divine judgment, call for repentance and obedience to Christ and to his Word, and promise eternal life with God to the repentant and to the obedient. We need to tell them that Jesus Christ did not die merely to give us an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
We also need to tell them that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, CREATED TO BE LIKE GOD IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS. God’s grace is NOT a free license to continue in willful sin against God, but his grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” TO UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY PASSIONS, AND TO LIVE SELF-CONTROLLED, UPRIGHT AND GODLY LIVES WHILE WE WAIT FOR CHRIST’S RETURN (Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon
My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.