Read 296.) Matthew chapters 14 through 16. Jesus has been rejected by national Israel, and especially by her religious leaders. He has already taught, by means of parables, the new direction and nature of the Kingdom of Heaven as it will be manifested upon earth for a time. Now, with these 3 chapters, Jesus comes to His real and deeper purpose for His coming.
Chapter 14 first tells us of the beheading of John the Baptist. He had served God faithfully and sealed his testimony with his blood. Jesus next performs 2 of His most memorable miracles; the feeding of the 5,000, and His walking on the water. Counting the women and the children present, Jesus may have fed as many as 20,000 with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish. Peter also walked upon the water, for a bit, but due to fear, he began to sink, and Jesus saved him; and by then, we read that the 12 Disciples are finally believing and saying that Jesus truly was the Son of God.
Chapter 15 advances the idea that the religious leaders are rejecting of Him, with verses 1 through 14, but presents an example of one, who is not even of Israel, exercising great faith in Jesus, with the story of the Canaanite woman. The chapter concludes with another miracle of the feeding of a huge crowd, numbering some 4,000 men.
Chapter 16 becomes pivotal. The leaders are now in open defiance of Jesus, and Jesus openly warns those who are following Him against those leaders. It is also at this time, Jesus confronts His 12 chosen ones concerning His true identity, and affirming that with them, begins to reveal His true purpose and work unto them. Israel’s religious leaders tested Jesus by asking Him for a sign from heaven, as if all that we have read that He did were not enough already. How foolish of them. They had no intention of ever believing! Jesus then asks His disciples Who it is that they think He is… and Peter answers most definitively, that Jesus is the Messiah. It would be upon THIS fact; Jesus is God’s Anointed One, the Messiah, upon which He would build His assembly of called-out ones, His Church. As the Messiah, Jesus now begins to plainly explain the simple facts of the Gospel; what it would be, and, ultimately, what it would accomplish.
The Gospel consists of these 2 facts first; Jesus would die, but that He would rise again from the dead! What all this would mean, is not yet made clear here, but will soon enough. The Gospel is no more plainly stated, than in I Corinthians 15:1-4. It can be summarized in 10 words from that passage. Christ died for our sins, and rose from the dead. It’s what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell