At the close of Matthew 15 we find another example of hospitality, the feeding of the four thousand. Matthew does not spend much time on it because he has already covered the feeding of the five thousand in the chapter before. In fact, he brings it in primarily it appears to present the subject of chapter 16. In fact, it probably should go with chapter 16. As you know, Matthew did not put in the chapters, they were put in later.
Look with me at chapter 15. The only basic difference between this miracle of the feeding of the four thousand and the feeding of the five thousand is that there were fewer people there. There were already fewer following Jesus. It is not that His miraculous power was any less. He would have been happy to feed a hundred thousand, if they had been there.
There were four thousand there plus women and children and they were fed. Then it says in Matthew 16:1, "Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him and asked that He would show them a sign from heaven." Can you imagine the audacity after feeding the four thousand? You know if you are determined not to see something, you are not going to see it.
Have you ever studied with somebody about the Sabbath and they wanted to see it from the Bible after you had presented it from the Bible. If you do not want to read the fourth commandment, it just does not say that, no matter what you say. That is how God made us, praise the Lord, He wants those to follow who really want to follow. The Pharisees and Sadducees did not want to follow.
But can you imagine the Pharisees and the Sadducees? If there were any mortal enemies on earth, it was the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They hated each other with a passion! Their slanderous remarks of each other would have put the Democratic and Republican conventions to shame. They took every opportunity they could to revile one another and to accuse one another.
How was it that they came together, asking Jesus for a sign, testing Him? How was it that they were cooperating together? Well, you see while they hated each other, they hated Jesus even more. Although they could not find unity on any other subject in the world, they could find unity on one subject--and that was their hatred of Jesus. Is that not something? That is the way it is going to be in the last days, is it not? When the world is at swords point and no one loves anyone, they are going to find unity in only one area. Now Jesus is gone, all that is left is His people. So that is what will receive the hatred of the world in the last days. We find out that it is the hatred toward the people of God that will draw the world together in bonds of unholy union.
Here they were asking for a sign after the feeding of the four thousand. Now, if they had been really looking fora sign, that would have been good enough. But the worst part is why were they asking for a sign to begin with? Look what Jesus said in Matthew 16:4. "It is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeks after a sign; and no sign shall be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."
In other words, after it is too late; after Jesus was buried, it was too late to receive His ministry anyway. Some repented. "No sign shall be given it."Today we find that people are looking for all kinds of things and signs and basis to establish their faith upon. Some people are looking for some kind of nonsense coming out of the mouth of people or themselves. If they can have some kind of nonsensical sound coming out of their mouths called any number of things by different people: ecstatic language, or whatever. Then this is a sign that they have found Jesus. This is a sign they have something to put their faith in.
I was in Pennsylvania and the mailman used to deliver our mail everywhere and we got everyone elses! One day I got my Signs of the Times from some other minister that it had been delivered to. He happened to read it, which was fine. I was happy that he did before he delivered it to me. He sent me a letter because there was something in it about Hell of fire. This is really erroneous and I did not believe it.
So I wrote him back and I gave him all kinds of Scripture texts showing the truth. He had nothing left. But he wrote me back and without giving a single Scripture text he said, I know that you are wrong and I am right because this is my belief and I have received the gift of tongues, so the Holy Spirit has recognized my ministry. His faith was not established in the Bible. He used the Bible when it was convenient, but his faith was established in something totally different.
Today people are looking for all kinds of things to put their faith in. It may be miracles. It may be ecstatic languages. It maybe some Ph.D. It maybe a priest. It maybe a minister. It may be a church. It may be a creed. The only thing worthwhile putting your faith in is the Word of God and that is the thing that so many people turn away from. The Word of God is used wherever it is convenient, but that is not the basis of peoples faith so often today.
And so Jesus "left them, and departed. Now when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'It is because we have taken no bread. (Verse 8) But Jesus being aware of it, said to them, 0 you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves, because you have brought no bread?" Matthew 16:5-8. I am not concerned about bread. Do you not remember how I fed the five thousand and then the four thousand? (See verse 10). "How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning (literal) bread, (but) that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not talk to them to beware of the leaven of bread but the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Matthew 16:11.
I wish we could pray and meditate upon these verses until we thoroughly understood them, because herein is a most important truth which can mean the difference between life and death. The leaven of the scribes and Pharisees has cost millions of people their eternal salvation and it is still here today. Now you know leaven is a small ingredient. It does not take much, just a little bit to put into the bread, it just takes a small amount and it mixes in so well. Once it is mixed in there is no immediate effects. Any of you ladies when you are through cooking and you wonder if you put the salt in or not. You cannot tell by looking, can you? And so it is with leaven. With leaven you usually do not ask because you can wait a few minutes and find out. But initially you do not know unless you remember putting it in. You cannot see it there, can you? It is mixed in, you cannot see it.
Now there are various ways of fixing bread, of course. Some people let the leaven raise first in its own separate batter. But if you put yeast in bread, you cannot see it there. It is all mixed in together and it makes no difference in the world--at first. It is totally inconsequential. It is just there and it is the same after it is there as before it is there. So why worry about it?
But the end results make all the difference in the world between the bread of life and the bread that is not the bread of life. But the common person cannot tell the difference between dough that has leaven in and dough that does not have leaven in initially. Only a scientist could tell through tests. That is why Jesus says to beware because it is so subtle. It is extremely subtle.
We do not realize the end results and we cannot tell the difference, it is so subtle. So He says to beware. Now the question is, Who is the Bread of life that the yeast is mixed in? Jesus said, I am the Bread of life. If any man eats of this bread, he shall never hunger and he shall never thirst.
Now Jesus goes on to talk to the disciples in the next few verses about the Bread of life. That is His main subject. Jesus knows exactly what He is illustrating and what He is talking about here. He asks the disciples, Who do men say that I am? Well, they say some say this thing and some say another. Then Jesus said, But Whom do you say lam? Then Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ. What did Jesus say to him? Down to verse 17, He said, "Blessed are you Simon Baijona: for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven: and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:17-19.
He said, Blessed are you Peter, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you. You did not learn this from man. You have not been affected by the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees. You could not have learned this from them because they did not teach that. That is not their teaching. The only place you could have learn that is from My Father, from the Word of God.
Peters faith was established, not in the teaching of others. It was not established upon the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees. It was established upon a personal intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and with the Father and through their leading him in the understanding of the Word of God.
And Jesus said, This is what My church is going to be based upon. And therefore the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. During the Dark Ages the church was built upon creeds, upon councils, upon prelates, upon Papal bulls, upon tradition and upon statements of the Pope. But in the process of time God raised up reformers who said that they would believe the Bible and the Bible alone. That was what their faith was established upon.
And on that Rock the church still stands. On that Rock is where God established it to begin with. But the central question that must be answered in this faith that must be established in the Bible and the Bible alone is a question that Jesus asked the disciples. Who do men say that I am? And Who do you say that I am? That is still the question.
The great question that must be answered today is, Who is Jesus Christ? Who do men say that He is? Who is He? Who do you say I am? Who is Christ? Who do you say that Jesus is? That was the beginning of the gospel of Matthew in Matthew 1:21 when the angel came down to announce the birth of Jesus Christ, he said, you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.
Jesus came down to save you and me from our sins. That is what He came down to do. That was the work of Jesus Christ. But today people are saying that Jesus came down to save us in our sins. How did Jesus come to save us from our sins? Look with me over in Hebrews 4:15 to see Who this Jesus really was. Who is the Christ Who was anointed to take away the sins of the world?
In Hebrews 4:15 it says, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with the weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Or as Peter says, without sinning. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15, 16.
The Bible says that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are. He came down and was tempted like you are. Now that is not believed today. That message has been leavened with the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and I will tell you why in a minute. It is not a popular teaching.
Look with me over in Hebrews 2:17, 18. "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren,. . ." That message is not believed today. It has been leavened. It has been watered down. It has been destroyed. It has been taken out of the church. The Bible says "in all things he has to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."
But today another gospel is being taught. Today the leaven has neutralized the power of the gospel. The Bible says in the last days that men would have the form of religion but deny the power thereof, the power to save from sins. That is the power the Bible is talking about. It is said today that Jesus was not tempted like we are. They say He was tempted like Adam was before he fell. That is what people are teaching today.
But the Bible says He was tempted like we are, like you are, and like I am and He overcame so we can overcome, too. That is the teaching of the Bible. But today they are saying, It is not said that Jesus came down to save us, but He came down to save Adam before he ever fell. But friends, Adam needed no saving before he fell. He needed no Saviour before he fell.
Who is it that needs saving? It was Adam after he fell, that is who needed saving. Now this seems so subtle and so inconsequential. Why does it matter Who Jesus really was? But I will tell you in the beginning while it may not make a lot of difference Who you think Jesus was, in the end it will make all the difference in the world. Because, you see, if Jesus was not like you are. then von cannot overcome like He overcame. Do you understand that?
And that is the end result of the teaching today. The end result is that we cannot overcome. We will go on sinning until Jesus comes. The only reason Jesus came down was to justify us. Sanctification has lost its meaning and its place in the gospel today. Therefore Jesus did not come to save us from our sins, but in our sins. This is what is being taught in our universities. This is what is being taught in the Catholic Church. This is what is being taught in all the Protestant Churches and, sad to say, it has even crept into the professed people of God.
This is not in my notes and we do not have much time, but turn with me just for a moment to Romans 8:3. It says, "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh,.. ." Do you know what the Biblical meaning of flesh is? It means fallen human nature. So, "what the law could not do because of our fallen human nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh(in our nature)."That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to (our fallen human nature) the flesh but according to the Spirit."
The New International Version says that. That is not a correct translation, the correct translation is "flesh." But it means what the New International Version says, although they should have translated it correctly. It means our fallen nature, but we do not have to walk according to it although we have it. In fact, in verse 13 it says, if you live according to your nature, you will die. "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
Now Jesus came down to fulfill the law within fallen humanity. The gospel of Romans begins in Romans 1:3 saying He was the Son of David according to the flesh, the nature. I would like you to turn with me to a prophecy over in 1 John 4:2-4. "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God."--every one!
Now, friend, there are all kinds of false theories today that confess that Jesus came in human skin and bones. There are all kinds of them. That is no test at all. But the devil will never admit that Jesus came down in our natures and overcame. Oh, he is free and willing to admit that He came down in Adams nature and saved him, but mankind is still his slave and he will not admit that they have been freed.
He does not want them to be free. He still wants them as his slaves. Jesus said, Whoever sins is a slave of sin. The slave does not abide in the house forever, but if the Son comes down He shall make you free. That is what Jesus came down for, to make YOU free. This is the sign of the antichrist, he says, Every spirit, however, that confesses that Jesus came in the flesh, he is of God.
Now friends, you have got to do an awful lot of explaining in this Scripture unless you understand flesh to mean fallen human nature, because there are a whole lot of false theories that confess that Jesus came with skin and bones like you and I have. But you will not find one that admits He came in fallen human nature and overcame. You will not find it. The Bible is true, through and through, and it means exactly what it says.
But people do not want to believe that. Do you know why? Because it is not pleasing in the end results. Because it means that Jesus came down like you and me, then we must overcome like He overcame. But if He did not, then we are excusable for all of our sins and that is what we are looking for. We are looking for some Saviour, somewhere, to accept us and give us eternal life just like we are.
We are just believing, making some kind of profession, and acclaiming that Jesus is Lord but not really believing it inside that He is Lord of us. It is more pleasing that way. But listen, friends, if Jesus were the Son of Adam, I would like you to do some thinking now, how many unfallen sons did Adam have? And through what lineage must Jesus have come if he were of unfallen nature?
Did you ever realize that Adam had no unfallen children? They were all fallen. And the Bible says that not only was He the Son of Adam, but also He was the Son of David. I will assure you that David was a fallen human being! This is that doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that the prophecy speaks of. Listen, friends, if Jesus was born of Immaculate Conception, he was born of humanity. He was not man, because there is no man that never fell and has a fallen nature.
Jesus was born of Adam after he fell. He was born of David. Jesus came to bridge the gap between heaven and us. He came to bridge the gap between you and me and immortality. He came to bridge the gap between the Almighty God and fallen man. Jesus did not come to bridge the gap between Adam and his unfallen state in heaven. There was not a gap. The gap is between you and me and the throne up there. That is the gap. That is the cap that Jesus came to fill Adam needed no Saviour until he fell.
You see, the Pharisees wanted someone to accept them as they were. One time they brought Jesus a woman caught in adultery. They told Him, You know we caught her red-handed and the Law of Moses said that she should be stoned. What do You say? Jesus began to write in the dirt. They pressed Him and He looked at them and said, Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
The Bible account said they began to leave from the oldest to the youngest one by one because there was not a one who had accepted Jesus as his Saviour and who had been freed from his sins. If they had they would not have wanted to throw stones in the first place. They knew they were sinners. They did not want to give up their sins. That is why they did not want to accept Jesus like He was. They wanted somebody that would give them the pleasures of the world, not Someone who would save them from their sins.
And then Jesus turned to that poor. trembling woman and said, Woman, where are thine accusers? Has no one accused you? She said, No man, Lord. Jesus turned to her and in love and pity said, Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more. That is the gospel! The gospel involves pardon and restoration; justification and sanctification; forgiveness and cleansing.
Jesus came down to die for our sins and He lived to free us from our sins both. They go together. We cannot have one without the other. Look with me over in Revelation 3:21. It says, "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.
Now overcoming does not merit anything. We do not earn our way to heaven by overcoming and yet there is no merit unless we overcome because justification does not come without sanctification. That does not mean that the sanctified Christian is never going to commit a sin, but it means that he is not going to be a slave of sin. He is going to be freed from the slavery of sin, Jesus said.
Now, the popular teachers can twist these plain Scriptures anyway they like. In fact, I sometimes, if I listen, I realize why they need a Ph.D. degree to figure out how to twist these Scriptures around like they do. I listened to people who go to school and get all kinds of degrees and come out trying to argue away the Sabbath. You know, they have all the great reasons why the Sabbath should not be kept. Let me tell you, friend, the fourth commandment still means what it says, does it not?
And they are willing to read and take the plain Word of God, it still says what it says, and they will still be held accountable for it. I will tell you what, after all these Ph.D.s and all these universities and all of these different religions get through trying to prove that we cannot overcome sin and get through trying to prove that Jesus had Adamss unfallen nature and was not like us and all He came down to do was forgive us of our sins, the Bible still says what it says in plain English.
The Bible says, He who overcomes will be granted to sit with me on my throne. I only have one word to say, What if after all the twisting of Scripture, all the explaining of Scripture, all the reasoning of Scripture, what if all of these arguments of the theologians are wrong and the Bible ends up right? Then what? Jesus said, Beware of the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees.
Look with me at one more text and then we have got to conclude quickly. Look with me in 1 John again at what preceded 1 John 4. This is what John was talking about. He said, "And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." 1 John 3:3. That verse is not believed today. It is overlooked. If they cannot overlook it, they find an explanation or reason for it. But the Bible says that if we have this hope, we will purify ourselves as He is pure.
"Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." I John 3:4. That is the definition of sin. Sin is not what we are; it is what we do. And that becomes what we are. "And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning." 1 John 3:5-8.
Today it is taught that we cannot quit sinning. But the Bible says that if you cannot quit sinning, you are of the devil because Jesus came to free you from your sins. That is what the Bible says. And Jesus said, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. It is imperceptible. It mixes in so nicely and you cannot see a great difference at first. It is mixed in the Bread of Life.
Today Jesus is unknown by the world. They do not know Who Jesus was. He was the Son of Adam. He was the Son of David. He bridged the gap between you and me. So Jesus, back in Matthew 16, and this is not off the subject because you will see in Matthew 16 what Jesus went on to explain to the disciples.
"From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and stiffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You! But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are an offence to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."' Matthew 16:21-23.
Oh, no, Lord, Peter said, not the cross, not the cross, Oh, no, Lord! Peter wanted to follow the Lord but He was hoping He was not going in that direction. Not the cross. There must be an easier way. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus said, Follow Me. But, Lord, do not go in that direction. There must be another way. But Jesus said, Get behind me, Satan, you savor of the things of this world, not of the things of eternal life.
Peter had just been blessed because he received something from the Father apart from what the scribes and Pharisees were teaching, but now he was showing that the scribes and Pharisees had really affected him. He really had been leavened. Jesus said, Not only must I take My cross, but also looking at Peter He said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward every man each according to his works." Matthew 16:24-27.
That is why there is another gospel today. People do not want to be rewarded according to their works.
They want to be rewarded according to Jesus works. His works have to become our works and then we will be rewarded according to His works. Like the Pharisees today too many people want to be accepted as they are. They do not want a cross. You know what the cross represents in the Christian life, do you not?
Back to Romans again, this great book that talks about the cross so much and crucifying the flesh. Romans 6:6 it says, "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." And the verse we just read in Romans 8:13, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
There is a cross, friends, for every Christian to bear. There is a cross before the crown. There is a cross before our mansions are ours. When Jesus stood upon that mountain there on the third temptation, the devil presented Him the glories of the world. But on the other side there was a cross. Our Sabbath School lesson today mentioned the broadway that leads to destruction, but there is a narrow way, and friends, that narrow way is the cross.
It is a cross. Jesus bore the cross, so we have a cross to bear, too, and that cross is our sins. The cross Jesus bore was our sins. It is lust that resides within us that has to be crucified, that is what crucified Jesus and we have to take the cross, too. There was that selfishness that hung Jesus upon the cross. It was that self-concern, it was those evil thoughts that hung Jesus upon the cross. It was those perverted appetites that hung Him there. That is what drove those spikes through His hands.
Jesus said, If any man will come alter Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. Oh, friend, it is a heavy cross. If you look at your sins, you know it is a heavy cross. Sometimes we would rather die than give up our sins, you know? To give up those programs that are causing us to think about things of the world, causing us to talk like the world, think like the world, act like the world. We would rather die than do that sometimes.
It is a heavy cross, is it not? In our Sabbath School lesson the rich young ruler was presented with his cross with his idol. It was the money that he had. Jesus said, Go, sell what you have and give to the poor. It was too heavy, he went away. But Jesus said, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. But, oh, friend, if he had only looked to Jesus, He would help him lift it, because He lifted it.
Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you and lean on Me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. My yoke is easy, My burden is light." Oh, friend, it is a heavy cross, but Jesus is carrying it. All he had to do was to get under it with Him. Then we will find that it is light.
For Jesus said, What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Friend, will you accept Jesus today? He is carrying your cross, you know. He invites you to follow Him and get under there with Him. He will carry the burden as long as long as you get under there with Him.
Is there anyone today that had a cross in his life, a sin that he has not renounced yet? Oh, I invite you to accept Jesus as your Saviour. You will find the power that you have never known before. You will find that you can break that habit, you can break that homosexuality, you can break that lust, you can break that adultery, you can break those evil thoughts, you can break them because Jesus suffered all your temptations and He won the victory for you.
He bore the cross and He says, Come unto Me and you will find rest. You will find peace and that is the only rest and peace you will ever find in this world. It is a perplexing thing, the cross is so heavy and yet it brings so much peace and you will find it so light with Jesus Christ.
Friend, what do you think of Jesus Christ today? Have you accepted Him as your Saviour? I invite you to do that this morning as we sing our closing song.