As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
- What does God reveal about Himself?
- How is your own heart revealed?
- How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
- Turn these truths into prayer and praise.
12 February Mt 15:32-39
Matthew has already shown us Jesus feeding a great crowd in the wilderness, so that all ate and were satisfied (14:13-21). We noted then the echoes of the Exodus story: the God who delivered the Jews from Pharaoh is now present in Jesus. But in this second wilderness feeding (15:32-39) the hungry people are mostly gentiles (15:31). So we learn that the Exodus was a picture of the much greater salvation Jesus would accomplish for people from every nation – including us.
13 February Mt 16:1-4
The Pharisees and Sadducees were like many people today: skilled in everyday affairs, yet woefully blind in the things of God (vv.2-3). Their demand for a sign (v.1) rings hollow, because Jesus has performed so many signs which they have ignored. Only “the sign of Jonah” (v.4) will be given, namely Jesus’ resurrection (see Mt 12:40), which Peter pointed to on the day of Pentecost as the decisive proof that Jesus is the Christ (Ac 2:32-36). Beware of being worldly-wise yet spiritually foolish.
14 February Mt 16:5-12
The Pharisees and Sadducees had many differences, but Jesus sees they have a common fault. He calls it their “yeast” and twice warns His disciples against it (vv.6,11). The context shows he is referring to their unbelief, despite all the evidence (16:1-4). This, says Jesus, is our great problem: not a lack of bread, but a lack of trust in Him. Despite the feeding miracles, the disciples still show little faith or understanding (vv.7-10). Have we grasped that our greatest danger is unbelief?
15 February Mt 16:13-20
In response to Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, our Lord announces that Peter will have a foundational role in the church. This was dramatically demonstrated when 3000 responded to Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost. It was by the preaching of the gospel that the keys of the kingdom were exercised (Ac 2:36-41). All subsequent church growth takes place on this foundation (Eph 2:20); a church that is not true to the apostolic gospel is certainly no church of Christ.
16 February Mt 16:21-28
Immediately we see that despite his high calling, Peter is no infallible Pope. He has given Jesus the correct title (v.16), but he doesn’t understand what it means. Jesus will suffer and die (v.21), and we must learn, as Peter had to, that all our attempts to avoid the cross are satanic (vv.22-23). There is a cross for Jesus, and for every disciple too (vv.24-28): a death to self. “When Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). Are you ready for this?
17 February Mt 17:1-13
Jesus appears with Moses and Elijah and is transfigured (transformed) so that His glory outshines even these two great prophets from Israel’s history (v.8). If the Israelites needed to obey the words of Moses and Elijah, how much more then should we listen to God’s beloved Son (v.5) – even when He calls us to take up the cross (16:24-26)? But just as John the Baptist was misunderstood and suffered, so Jesus will suffer, and His mission will not be understood till after His resurrection (vv.9-13).
18 February Mt 17:14-21
As Moses descended from Mt Sinai to the chaos and unbelief of the golden calf (Ex 32), so Jesus leaves the mountain for a scene of spiritual turmoil. His remaining disciples seem to have gone backwards in His absence, unable to help a demon-possessed boy despite their earlier authority (Mt 10:1). Were they now looking to their own gifting rather than to God? That’s not faith – it’s folly. True faith, even as small as a mustard seed, always keeps the focus on God’s power, not on our ability.