As a pastor passionate about God’s word, I like preaching about Jesus’ ministry on earth. The
Bible says that Jesus had 12 disciples who helped him navigate and control the crowds that
used to gather around him. As a student of the Bible, I understand that the disciples followed
every rule that Jesus gave them, and believing in his ministry, he once posed a question that
perplexed them. He asked them, “Who do you say Jesus is?”
In this article, I will discuss the events that happened in Matthew 16. Join me in this exploration
and learn what message Jesus passed in this book. You will also learn why Jesus asked the
question at that time and the context of Matthew 16: 15. Here is more!
What is the context of Mathew 16?
Matthew 16 is a scripture that tries to reveal the identity of Jesus at a crucial time when he was approaching his crucifixion. At the time, most people still had to contradict opinions about Jesus, prompting him to ask whether people knew who he truly was.
From Matthew 16:1-4, the scripture covers the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees and Sadducees were known to oppose the message of Jesus Christ since they taught false doctrines and were full of pride while Christ was teaching the right message. They came to ask Christ to give them a sign that he was indeed from heaven and that God was in him.
Despite witnessing every great deed and miracle that Jesus performed, the Pharisees and Sadducees still wanted to disapprove of Jesus Christ so that the people could disregard the word of Christ in their favor. However, they found Jesus in his full wisdom, and he handled them well. Since Jesus knew that the question they were asking was a snare, he avoided it by telling them that the signals were there, including great miracles, but they had chosen to ignore them. Instead of believing, they were busy finding fault in his works.
Jesus condemned them for being able to translate weather patterns but not the miraculous signs that were being shown before them. Therefore, he refused to satisfy their hypocrisy and reprimanded them for being an adulterous generation who broke their covenants with God.
The verse was a message from Jesus to the doubters and unbelievers that he had no point in proving that he was indeed from God. Since they had deliberately refused to believe in the miracles, there was nothing more that Jesus could do to prove to them that he was indeed God. After this discourse, Jesus broke away from the people and left them.
Matthew 16:5-12 involves the second discourse that involves Jesus Christ and his disciples. The disciples had forgotten to carry bread as they crossed the lake, which attracted a comment from Jesus. Jesus told them to be vigilant against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The disciples needed to understand what he meant and took a discussion among themselves.
Jesus understood that his message had yet to be well comprehended by the disciples, so he called them men of little faith who could not understand his parables. He went on to explain to them, using literal examples, that the yeast he was talking about was not the literal yeast used for baking bread. He was talking about the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which could spread among the people like yeast does on bread.
The Pharisees and Sadducees were trying to fight the gospel of Christ at the time and never missed the opportunity to discredit his claim that he had come with the valid message of God. They had already influenced many people with their false doctrines and teachings and threatened the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Since Jesus knew that his time was almost due, he thought it was wise to warn his disciples about the false teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They had the power and influence necessary to sway the people away from the Gospel of God, and the disciples needed to be more than prepared to tackle them without Jesus on the battlefield.
This is why Jesus decided to warn his disciples that they were supposed to be very cautious when approaching the treacherous Pharisees and Sadducees who were out to mislead the people of God. In the end, the disciples fully understood what their master had meant.
This discourse played a crucial role in revealing the plan of Jesus after his death to his followers. He was going to leave them with guidance. The disciples were present to carry on with the ministry to ensure that the word of Christ was spread far and wide. Furthermore, the disciples had been advised to prepare against the enemy, the false doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Matthew 16:13-20 marks the third discourse in this context. Jesus had asked the disciples who the people thought he was. The disciples answered that some thought he was John the Baptist, and others thought he was Elijah. In contrast, others thought he was either Elijah the prophet or either prophet Jeremiah or any other prophet.
Jesus Christ went ahead and asked them who they thought he was. Peter, the undisputed leader of the disciples, took the chance and told Jesus that he was the Messiah, the son of God. The answer was satisfactory enough to Jesus, who appreciated that his disciples knew who he was and believed that he was the chosen one.
Matthew 16:21-28 is the last discourse that Jesus had with his disciples, where he revealed that he would suffer and die in Jerusalem as that was the will of God. Peter was rebuked for trying to talk against the words of Christ. Jesus then told his disciples that whoever wanted to inherit the kingdom certainly had to face the same persecution as him. They, therefore, had to carry their crosses and follow him.
This last discourse reveals that a sacrifice had to be made to Jesus for one to be a part of the kingdom of God. The same way Jesus had to carry the cross and pay the price for the sins of humans was the same way Christians were required to sacrifice to attain the level of entering heaven.
Why did Jesus ask his disciples who they thought he was?
Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was to understand the amount of faith they had in him that he was indeed the son of God. Jesus had already performed several miracles while moving with the disciples. They had witnessed them in their eyes, but Jesus had hidden the secret about his persecution and eventual death from them.
This was when Jesus unleashed the ultimate test of faith on them. He wanted to know whether they had truly experienced God’s presence or were uninformed like the non-believers. The answer Jesus would get was the determiner as to whether the disciples were ready to run the ministry or not.
How did Jesus’ disciples say who they thought Jesus was?
Simon Peter was the disciple who answered Jesus Christ that he was the Messiah, the son of God. This was a satisfactory answer to Jesus, who now understood that his disciples honestly had faith that whatever he had done so far was true and that he was indeed God.
This was a clear message from the disciples that they were ready to take the mantle of Jesus and teach the people the accurate word of God.
How does the New Testament describe who Jesus is?
John 20:30-31 describes that Jesus is the son of God who came to save the world. He is defined as the Messiah who was sent as the world’s savior to salvage humankind from the bondage of sin. Jesus is further described as the way, the truth, and the life; nobody will see the father without going through him. For one to see God, it is paramount that one believes and follows Jesus Christ.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.