October 20 (Daily reading) Matthew 16; Mark 8. When Jesus said, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mt. 16:6), He was referring to their false teaching. The disciples did not understand and thought that He mentioned “leaven” because they had forgotten to bring bread. He spoke of their lack of faith by reminding them of the feeding of the five thousand, and later the four thousand. And now they were talking about having no bread! Jesus asked them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mk. 8:21).
After this, Jesus asked the disciples some questions to test their understanding. The first was, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Mt. 16:13). After they had answered, he asked the much more important question: “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:15). This is a key question in discipleship. We can hear what others have to say about who Jesus is, but we must ask and answer the question, “Who is Jesus to me personally?” Peter gave the correct answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). We discover who He is in the same way that Peter did: God revealed it to him. We say with Paul, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).
Jesus told Peter that his confession of faith was the foundation upon which He would build His Church (v. 18). Even the forces of hell cannot overcome His Church because it is founded on the believers’ confession that Jesus Christ is God, and the Savior of all who believe. He has given to us, His Church, “the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” so that we can do Christ’s work upon the earth.
– Al Gary