Matthew 16

July Memory Verse: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

Read: Matthew 16

Matthew 16 gives example after example of people not understanding Jesus as the Messiah.

In verses 1–4 the Pharisees and Sadducees are still trying to trip Jesus up because they don’t understand who he is. Then in verses 5–12, Jesus is misunderstood again as he warns against the “leaven” of the religious elite, yet he clears it up as the disciples smack their foreheads, “Oh, you mean their teaching. Got it!” Finally, Jesus asks about himself and we see Peter’s great confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16); while only a few moments later Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” (23)  

So, we have to ask, what were these people expecting? Psalm 2 provides a very clear answer. Psalm 2:2–9 says,

2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” (NASB)

As we read Psalm 2, we get insight into Peter’s confession and what these people were expecting from the Messiah. First, Peter’s confession that Jesus is the “Christ” comes right out of Psalm 2. No, Christ is not Jesus’ last name, it is a transliteration of the Greek word “Christos” used in the Greek version of the Hebrew text called the Septuagint (prevalent in Jesus’ day). “Christos” means “Anointed One,” or “Messiah” (which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew word Mishaya appearing in the Hebrew text of Psalm 2).

All that to say, when Peter makes his confession, the Psalm 2 Christ is his point of reference. Psalm 2 is a prophetic look at the world powers standing up to God and the Christ, who is also his Son (in verse 7, which is a quote from 2 Sam 7 in the Davidic Covenant in which God promises David an eternal throne). This Son of God, the Christ, will receive “the nations as inheritance,” and “will shatter them like earthenware” (See also Daniel 2).  

The Pharisees and Sadducees rejected Jesus as the Messiah based on the same faulty expectations of Peter. Although Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ, he didn’t realize what that meant. They were expecting an earthly ruler who would crush all the nations and establish a world kingdom centered in Jerusalem. This is also why Jesus tells them not to tell anybody in verse 20, so that they didn’t attempt to inaugurate his kingdom on their own.

The disciples wanted Jesus to judge Rome and the other world powers, but Jesus understood that if the world were judged at that time, then nobody would experience salvation because the penalty had not yet been dealt with. This heightens Jesus’ words in verse 26, because “the whole world” is exactly what the disciples wanted.

Today we must reflect upon exactly what we want from Jesus—do we want the salvation that requires us to “deny ourselves” and “take up a cross,” or do we want to benefit from Jesus’ power without accepting our own need for total dependence?

By: Tyler Short


Keishia Lansaw - July 20th, 2021 at 5:23am

I would love to say that I want to deny myself and take up the cross constantly but I think of several instances where I want Jesus’ power without fully relying on him. Raising this question will help keep me focused on what I truly want and NEED from Jesus...His salvation!

Tyler Short - July 20th, 2021 at 7:05am

Great word Keishia. So many times our battle line is simply recognizing Jesus for who he is instead of who I want him to be. My version is always far less magnificent.

Korbet Finley - July 20th, 2021 at 6:24am

"When Christ who is your life appears..." -Col. 3:4.

Well, it might not say what I want, but it does express that I'm getting something far greater than I can ever deserve.

Great devo today. Thank you!

Tyler Short - July 20th, 2021 at 7:05am


Lindsay Crawford - July 20th, 2021 at 9:51am

The Word is filled with a multitude of examples of how God works in ways we would never expect and uses people we would never choose to execute His will. As well, my life is filled with so many examples of ways He has worked all things out for my spiritual good and to bring Him glory. There is such a peace that comes when you know that you can trust Him in all circumstances, no matter what or how dire the situations look like. All praise and glory to the One who holds all things, great and small, in His hands.

Phillip Wright - July 20th, 2021 at 9:16pm

Good stuff today Tyler. The connection to verse 26 with the preconceived ideas about the Messiah is pretty cool.

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