Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 66
BUT GOD! (Confirming the Promises) – Part 1
MATTHEW 16:15 – But whom say ye that I am?
We want to welcome all of our studio people first. I’ve always said I could never do this without a live audience, and we appreciate the fact that you’re so faithful. For those of you joining us in television, in case this is the first time you’re catching us, we’re an informal Bible study. Hopefully we’re making some headway getting people to not only understand their Bible but to enjoy it! And that’s the only reason we teach. It is to make the Bible something that is accessible, understandable, and enjoyable.
Okay, since this is a Bible study and time is precious, we’re going to jump right into our next series in the “But God or But When or But Now” and so forth. Today it’s going to be “But Whom.” We’re going to go to Matthew chapter 16 and start at verse 13.
Now, I read this on the program several, several programs back. It is a statement by a Bible scholar way back in the 16th century, the 1500’s, or about the time our King James Bible was coming about. In so many words, he said, “Whenever you open the Book, always determine to whom is it written? Who’s writing? What are the circumstances? What are the where’s, the when’s, the what for’s, and what have you’s. And then you’ll begin to get a good handle on some of these things.”
So, we’re going to emphasize, now, that this is at the end of Christ’s earthly ministry. They’re up in Northern Israel. They’re up there at the headwaters of the Jordan River. That’s what is referred to here as Caesarea Philippi. In short order they’ll be making their way south to Jerusalem and the crucifixion. So, after three years of earthly ministry, we have this setting of Jesus and the Twelve. That answers a couple of the questions listed above. What’s the circumstance? It’s the end of His ministry. They’re ready to head back to Jerusalem. He knows what’s going to happen, but the Twelve don’t have a clue. So, who’s writing? Well, of course, it’s the Gospel of Matthew, so Matthew is writing it, but it’s regarding a conversation between Christ and the Twelve, particularly Peter, who is always the spokesman of the Twelve.
“When Jesus came into the borders of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Now, I’ve got to always stop when things pop up that I hadn’t thought of before. We get questions every once in a while, “Why is Christ sometimes referred to as the Son of man and other times the Son of God?” Well, He was both.
Luke uses the term Son of Man almost entirely, because Luke speaks of His humanity. On the other hand, John is going to usually use the term the Son of God, because he speaks of His Deity. Always remember that these terms are synonymous with the two roles that Christ played. He was Deity. He was God. He could control nature. He could raise people from the dead. But on the other hand, He was human and He suffered the various human frailties that we all do. He got hungry. He got tired. In this particular case, He says, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” But it’s still speaking of God the Son or Jesus the Christ.
“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Now again, let’s stop and analyze this a minute. After three years of miracle after miracle after miracle, you want to remember the ones recorded are only just a sampling. In fact, let’s look at the last verse of John’s Gospel. I think that must be the clearest point on this, that we only get a sampling of His miracles and signs and wonders. The last verse of John’s Gospel, that would be John 21 verse 25. I would like to think that most people know this verse is here, but on the other hand maybe they don’t. This is what the Spirit led John to say, and so this must be true.
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” Now imagine! In other words, I have to think that almost constantly, every day, for three years, He was performing some sort of a sign, or wonder, or miracle. It was constant. And yet, now come back to Matthew, after three years of that, the rank and file of Israel didn’t have a clue as to who He was. They were trying to connect Him with some of the Old Testament prophets? Or maybe John the Baptist, who’d been beheaded some time back, maybe he’s come back to life? They were totally without a clue.
All right, so now the Lord comes back and addresses the Twelve, “Well, are you any better than the rank and file of Israel? Being with me every day for three years, has it made an impact on you?” All right, here’s the answer, and Peter is the spokesman. In verse 15 Jesus said:
“He saith unto them, But whom…” And that’s where I’m picking up the “But.” Here we’ve got the first side of the coin, how after all of His signs and wonders and miracles the average citizen of Israel still had no idea whom He was, or why He was here. But the twelve, or eleven of them, at least, got it. So, Jesus says:
“…but whom say ye that I am? 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Now again, we’ve got to stop. What’s the original term for Christ? Messiah!
Now, if you know anything about even the Jew today, even to a degree the secular element in Israel, but especially the Orthodox and the various other segments of Judaism, what are they looking for? The Messiah. Absolutely! For the last two thousand years what has been on the lips of every Jew who has any concept of Scripture whatsoever? What’s constantly on their lips, especially after they finish their prayer time? “Next year, Jerusalem!” Well, what are they thinking? The Messiah! The Messiah was everything. He not only would bring peace and prosperity and everything to the Nation of Israel, but He would also bring righteousness. He would not just be a ruling Messiah from a King’s point of view; He would also be the Redeemer.
So, this is all in their thinking, and that’s all wrapped up in that word Messiah. It was a crucial word in Israel’s language. That’s what Peter’s referring to. “Thou art the Messiah!” And what was the Messiah to be? A person of the Godhead. And what person of the Godhead was Israel familiar with ever since Abraham? Well, God the Son. The other term was Jehovah. This is the whole crux of the matter. You are the Promised Messiah and as such, you are the Son of God! What’s implied, then? You’re our Redeemer. Okay, and then the next verse.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon…” Now, what’s that telling him? You’ve got it all wrong? No, quite the opposite. The Lord is putting His stamp of approval on Peter’s statement, and not only was it a statement, it was a profession of his saving faith.
Peter was saved under the Gospel of the Kingdom. When we start separating the Gospel of the Kingdom from the Gospel of Grace and the Church Age, the question comes in constantly, what’s the difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace? Well, this is the Gospel of the Kingdom. But now don’t stop with just this one statement. What else was common everyday practice in the nation of Israel? The temple worship. They’re living under the Law. They’re under Judaism as we call it, and that included the food and dietary laws. It included all the civil laws of how they got along with each other in the neighborhood and so forth. It also included everything with regard to the temple worship, the feast days, whatever. Never in three years time did Jesus tell them to lay those things aside. They still practiced Judaism, but now along with that they were to believe who He was.
You remember how I’ve stressed over the last 15 years on television that the whole purpose of His signs and wonders and miracles was to prove to Israel who He was. They didn’t have a clue about Him going to a cross yet. In fact, let me show you that from Scripture. Move up from Matthew to Luke 18 and drop down to verse 31.
It’s been a long time since we’ve used this, at least on our program. Since our last taping, when I ended up in Galatians chapter 2, I’ve had to debate for the last four weeks, or three weeks, whatever it’s been, whether I should go back and finish Galatians chapter 2 or if I should just move on to another “But…whatever.” Well, I decided I’d probably get to Galatians chapter 2 sooner or later anyway. So, I stopped there, and today we’re going to move on to another concept.
All right, since last taping I have read three distinct, different well-known men in Christendom, Bible teachers, Bible conference preachers and what have you. All three of them made the same statement – “There has never been more than one gospel. Paul preached the same gospel that Peter preached, but maybe from a little different perspective.” I’m going to beg to differ. Maybe this humble, uneducated farmer shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to. I’m going to differ with them. They are totally wrong. There has been, in the past, two gospels – The Gospel of the Kingdom, preached by Jesus and the Twelve to Israel. And then during the same period of time, not for long, but for a few years, Paul’s Gospel of Grace, bringing the Gentile world into what we call salvation now by faith and faith alone.
But Peter is still dealing with the Nation of Israel, and I’m going to show you how his message doesn’t change. The emphasis is not on death, burial, and resurrection; it’s on the person. Who is He? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? He’s not just a carpenter’s son. He’s the Messiah. He’s the Redeemer. He’s going to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He’s God!
All right, they didn’t have a clue about a death, burial, and resurrection. Luke 18 – we’ll start at verse 31. This is so explicitly plain. This isn’t gobbledy gook. Now, I know that there are some verses in here that are hard to explain. I had one call yesterday and it was a tough one to explain. But this isn’t. This is plain and simple.
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them,…” Now this is about in the same time frame that we just read in Matthew 16. They’re up in Northern Israel, and they’re making their way to Jerusalem in time for the feast of Passover, but it’s really going to be the crucifixion.
“…Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets (We’re going to be looking at them this afternoon.) concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.” They’re going to be fulfilled. Now, look at verse 32. Here’s His Deity. He knew what was coming. He could have named every Roman soldier that would have anything to do with Him. He could have named every Jew who would be in that crowd scornfully mocking Him. All right, so He says, speaking of Himself now.
“For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (Rome) and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.” Plain and simple? Every bit of that was fulfilled, you know that! That’s not gobbledy gook that takes some seminary professor to explain it. It’s plain English. He knew what was coming. But look at the next verse.
“And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying was (What?) hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” In other words, did they have any idea after He got through speaking that He was going to be crucified in a few days? No. Excuse me, I just keep using it over and over – they didn’t have a clue! They had no idea that anything else was coming except He was going to be bringing in this promised glorious Kingdom for Israel. That’s all they’ve got on their mind, and I’m going to show you that, but not an idea of death, burial, and resurrection.
All right, we are not going to take the time to go back and look at Paul’s definition of the Gospel of salvation in this Age of Grace that we’re now in, and we find that in I Corinthians 15. But the whole core of the Gospel of Grace is that this same Son of Man, or Son of God, Jesus the Christ, is going to do what? He’s going to be crucified and shed His blood. He’s going to be buried and He’s going to rise from the dead. That’s our Gospel of salvation, and what we must believe!
And then these people try to tell me there’s no difference between what Peter professed in Matthew, “Thou art the Christ,” and Paul’s Gospel of faith in the death, burial, and resurrection? Come on! You don’t need that kind of an education to understand the difference. It’s as different as daylight and dark. Peter never preaches faith in the death, burial, and resurrection for salvation for the whole world, because that was hid from them. He just keeps telling Israel over and over that you crucified the promised Messiah. Repent of it, because God has raised Him from the dead, and He can still fulfill all those promises.
That’s the only reason he spoke of resurrection, that the One that they had killed was alive. Because, after all, you can’t have someone who is dead rule and reign. You can’t have someone who is dead do anything for you spiritually, so what was Peter’s emphasis? He’s been raised from the dead. He’s alive. He’s still the God of Israel. Repent of it! That’s why Peter emphasizes repentance. Repent of having rejected your Messiah, but Israel would not.
All right, now while we’re going that direction, let’s keep going to the right. Go to Romans chapter 15, and then we’re going to go back to Genesis. This is another verse that I’ve used often over the years, but it’s been a while now. Romans 15 verse 8. This is the Apostle Paul’s description of Christ in His earthly ministry. Look how plainly this puts it.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ (Jesus the Messiah) was (past tense verb) a minister of the circumcision (Which is another name for Israel in Scripture. He was a minister of the Nation of Israel.) for the truth of God,…” Not something that Paul dreamed up. Not something that the Jews were just falsely acclaiming. No, this was a God-given truth, that He was the minister of Israel. But for what purpose?
“…to confirm (or fulfill) the promises made unto (Whom?) the fathers:” Way back there in the beginning of Israel’s history. Now put that together. Why did Christ come? He came to fulfill all those promises concerning Himself. And Israel couldn’t get it. Now, I’ve got another verse for that. Come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 2, verses 7 and 8.
I Corinthians 2:7a
“But we (Now of course, I’ve said this over and over. Paul often times uses the plural pronoun ‘we’ when he’s in reality speaking of himself.) speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, (In other words, in a format of things that have never been revealed before.) even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:” Over and over that goes back to this concept that God knew everything before He ever created anything. Here’s another one of them: that this wisdom which God was going to impart to this man was known before anything was ever created. All right, now verse 8.
I Corinthians 2:8a
“Which (In other words, this wisdom and understanding of God and His purposes-) none of the princes of this world knew:…” Now, isn’t that simple enough? All of these things that pertain to God’s purposes for the human race, all the way up to who Jesus Christ really was, did they know it? No.
None of the princes of this world knew who He was. All you’ve got to do is go back to the Gospel accounts and read the night of His trial, the stupid questions they were asking that they should have known. That’s why I won’t watch press conferences. I can’t stand the stupid questions from these reporters. It just burns me up. But they were no different back here in Christ’s time. “Are you who you say you are?” He replied, “Thou sayest.” And then they come right back and say, “Are you a king of Israel?” Ridiculous. But did they know? No, they didn’t know. Read it again.
I Corinthians 2:8
“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, (naturally) they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Now you remember, old Pilate got an inkling at the last moment, but it was too late, He was already up there on the cross. But for the most part, Israel’s leadership, political as well as religious, didn’t know who He was. The rank and file of Israel didn’t know who He was, and so they crucified Him. Because He was an impostor. He was a derelict. He was somebody that shouldn’t even be permitted to walk in their midst.
Okay, four minutes left, we might as well go back and take a start, and we’re going to probably spend a good bit of the afternoon on this. Go back with me to Genesis chapter 3, and we’re going to see from various, not all by any means, but we’re going to see from various Old Testament passages what Peter was referring to when he said, “Thou art the Christ.” Now don’t forget, how did Peter get the understanding of who He was? God revealed it to him. He said, “Peter, flesh and blood hasn’t done this for you. My Father which is in heaven has revealed it.” In other words, revealed who He was.
Well, it’s no different today. Not a one of us can be saved without the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a must. But you want to remember that back in those days the Holy Spirit wasn’t operating as He does today. Jesus could rightfully say that God the Father was the One who enlightened Peter as to who Jesus really was.
All right, come back to Genesis chapter 3. We’re going to have the very beginning of God’s scarlet thread of redemption that runs from Genesis to Revelation. You never lose it. It’s always someplace. Even in a book like Esther, where God’s name is never mentioned, you can still see that scarlet thread of redemption as it pertained especially to Israel and now as it’s come on to the Gentile world.
Now again, always remember, Paul wrote in Romans chapter 3 verses 1 and 2, and this is the verse I’ve always used when people call or write and ask, “Was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?” Well, I say he was Jew. And I have to use Scripture to prove that. That Scripture is Romans 3:1-2.
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2. Much every way: chiefly, (This is the number one reason that Israel is so blessed above all the people’s of the world.) because that unto them (the Nation of Israel) were committed the oracles (or Word) of God.” That’s been Israel’s privileged role. Every word of this Book was written by a Jew, and that’s why Paul said we should be looking up to them. We should be concerned about them, because they’ve given us everything that’s of most importance to us.
All right, so back here in Genesis, and we’ve only got a couple of minutes left, back in Genesis chapter 3, and you know the account. Adam and Eve have partaken of the forbidden fruit, they’ve been cast out of the garden and now, of course, God deals with old Satan himself. Verse 15, for sake of time. God is telling Satan, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman.”
Now, I’m going to have to stop here. I haven’t got enough time to do it justice. But over the years as I’ve taught this verse, I have struggled with this word “woman” in Genesis 3:15. I mean struggled. I’ve had a hard time explaining what was He really talking about. Now, I’m not going to start with only one minute left, but I’m going to kill this minute by just looking at it.
“I will put enmity (I will put a source of constant confrontation) between thee (Now he’s talking to Satan, remember.) and the woman, and between thy seed (In other words, all the satanic demonic powers and/or the offspring or the cohorts with Satan, his angelic demons and so forth.) and her seed: (That is the seed of the woman.) it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Now, of course, the reference is to the cross. When through the manipulating of Satan, working on the masses, working on Israel’s leadership, working through Pilate, and so forth, He (Christ) suffered and died. But at the same time, through that death, burial, and resurrection, what did Christ do with Satan? Utterly defeated him. That’s what I would refer to as the power of the resurrection. That’s where Satan was totally and completely defeated.