The Scriptorium

Looking Ahead

Jesus explains the purpose of His mission. Matthew 16.1-28

Matthew 16: Turning Point (7)

Pray Psalm 132.6, 7.
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
We found it in the fields of the woods.
Let us go into His tabernacle;
Let us worship at His footstool.

Sing Psalm 132.6, 7.
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
The word throughout the chosen nation spread,
to Ephrata, and in the fields of Jaar:
“Now let us go,” the faithful people said,
“and worship where our Savior’s dwellings are!
Around His footstool let our worship spread.
Come, gather to Him, all from near and far!”

Read and meditate on Matthew 16.1-28.

Prepare.
1. To what is Jesus looking ahead in this chapter?

2. How can we avoid being found where Peter was when Jesus rebuked him?

Meditate.
In Matthew 16, the work of Jesus turns a corner and defines a more precise heading. He will not be distracted by hypocrites or well-meaning disciples (vv. 1-4, 22, 23); and He warns His followers to guard themselves against false teaching (vv. 5-12). Only as they believe in Jesus as Son of God and Christ, and pay close attention to His Word – no matter how difficult it may seem – will they be His disciples, indeed (vv. 13-23). Following Jesus won’t be easy (vv. 24-28), but it is the way of life, and it is what Jesus expects of those who become His Body, the Church.

Jesus is preparing for His suffering. But beyond that, He’s looking ahead to the beginnings of the Christian Church, and to the progress of His Kingdom that the Church will realize through its worship and works. All who want to know true life and the enrichment of their souls will look at themselves and their history through the eyes of Christ. There will be opposition. We will falter and stumble. Hardship, suffering, sacrifice, and self-denial are the order of the day every day.

But life is the reward! True and full and glorious eternal life in Jesus, in His third-day resurrection (v. 21), where not even death can keep us from the joy of salvation and the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

So we look eagerly for the coming of His Kingdom, increasingly in our lifetime (v. 28), and beyond that, to the full realization of the rule of Jesus in the resurrection to come. And with those benchmarks as the commanding perspectives of our vision, we get behind Jesus, receive and obey His every word, and go forward together into eternal life with Him.

Reflect.
1. How would you explain to an unbelieving friend what it means to have eternal life?

2. Many false voices will seek to distract us as we follow Jesus. Such as?

3. What does it mean for you to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus?

So he now begins discussing more fully the outworkings of the future, not only with respect to his own suffering and death but with theirs as well. Unwillingness to die is grievous, but to be ready for death is good and of great profit. John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 55.1

Help me to follow You today, Lord, into the joy of eternal life, as I…

Pray Psalm 132.11-18.
Commit all the details of your day to following Jesus and seeking His Kingdom. Wait on the Lord for guidance and direction, and prepare your heart to follow Him.

Sing Psalm 132.11-18.
Psalm 132.11-18 (Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David;
do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor,
and He shall keep My cov’nant evermore,
and walk within My testimonies ever;
thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

God dwells among us, and He will forever,
to meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior,
and made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His presence ever,
but we shall reign with Him before His face.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore