Matthew 16:21-23 (The Suffering Messiah; Peter a Rock of Offense)

Mat 16:21         Matthew records that “from that time” Jesus began to show his disciples that He must be delivered up and suffer; from what time?  See the context of the previous verses, and observe that this would have been in the late summer or early fall before His crucifixion the following spring.  What was significant about “that time” when Peter had just confessed his understanding of who Jesus was?  Think: although they believed in Him as the Messiah, in their minds did they have any understanding yet about the Messiah as a suffering servant and the nature of the salvation He was bringing?  What does Matthew mean that Jesus “began” to show the disciples He must suffer?  See Mat 17:9,12,22-23, 20:17-19, Mar 9:9-12, Luk 18:31-33.  Why did He take such pains to emphasize what was going to happen?  See Luk 18:34, Mar 9:30-32.  Was it a matter of them not understanding intellectually what Jesus was saying?  Or rather, was it a matter of them being unable to accept—or even choosing not to believe—what He was saying?  See Mat 16:22.  Did the disciples really comprehend His words even after the crucifixion had taken place?  See Joh 20:2,9, Luk 24:1-8.  Were they believing even after the reports had gone forth that He had risen?  See Luk 24:19-27, Joh 20:24-26.  What was it that finally allowed them to understand and believe?  See Luk 24:45-46.  Is it possible that there are realities and truths to which we are equally blind and simply cannot understand or will not accept even though they have been plainly spoken and we have heard them repeatedly?  How ought this to make us fear in light of the passages of Scripture that plainly speak of God separating the tares from the wheat, of the many who will say to Him, “Lord, Lord”, that without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14), and of His justice and judgment upon the wicked?  What does Luk 24:45 teach us about the only way to overcome our blindness and how we ought to pray so that we ourselves as well as others may come to a clear understanding of the knowledge of the truth?  Cf. 1Ti 2:1-4.

Mat 16:22-23     What was Peter’s response to Jesus’ warning of what must happen to Him as the Messiah?  How would Peter have felt after Jesus’ blessing for his great confession?  How did that feeling of pride cause him to stumble in these verses?  What would have been a more appropriate response that would have kept him from stumbling?  See Luk 1:38.  Whereas earlier Jesus had praised Peter for speaking under the inspiration of the Father, under whose inspiration does He now rebuke him for speaking?  How had Satan earlier tempted Jesus in a similar manner?  See Mat 4:8-10.  What does this teach us about the subtle means by which Satan tries to tempt us?  Cf. Job 2:9-10.  What does it teach us about how those closest to us can become a source of temptation?  What does it teach us about how even those closest to Jesus—indeed how even the foremost who have been praised by Him—can become a tool used by Satan?  Have we ever been such a tool?  What can we do to avoid being so in the future?

Just a short time earlier Jesus had commended Peter and his confession as a foundation stone; what sort of stone does He now call him in Mat 16:23?  For what reason does Jesus say that Peter the rock upon which He would build His church had suddenly become a rock of offense over which He would stumble?  Cf. Rom 8:5-8, and contrast Phil 3:18-19 with Col 3:1-2.  What does this teach us about how quickly we can fall from being an instrument of the Lord’s to being a tool of the devil?  By what similar means may such happen to us as it happened to Peter?  What are man’s interests, and in what ways do we set our minds on them instead of God’s?  Contrast 2Co 4:16-18, 1Jo 2:15-17.  What then does it mean to set our minds on God’s interests instead of man’s?  By what two-fold means do we know what God’s interests are?  See Jos 1:8, 1Co 2:11.  Are we ever like Peter in rebuking the Lord because in our pride we think we know when we don’t know, and have set our mind on the temporal, fleshly things of man and not the eternal, spiritual things of God?  See Mar 8:33; what is the significance that it was when Jesus turned and saw the disciples that He rebuked Peter?  Cf. Luk 17:1-4.  Was it only on this occasion, before the resurrection and by the Lord that Peter was rebuked?  See Gal 2:11.  What does this teach us about the higher standard to which leaders are to be held, why they are to be held to a higher standard, and the importance of others holding them to a high standard?  Cf. Jam 3:1-2, 1Ti 3:2-7, 5:19-21.  Are any of us above not being rebuked?  See Pro 9:8, 28:23, 2Sa 12:7, Psa 141:5.

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