The signs of the times

The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus and challenged him to give them a sign from heaven to show his authority.

“When evening comes,” said Jesus, “you say, ‘a red sky at night means there’ll be good weather tomorrow’. Then, in the morning, you say, ‘a red and overcast sky means there’ll be bad weather today.’ Hypocrites! You understand the signs of the weather, but you don’t understand the signs of the times! It’s wicked and adulterous people who require a sign, but the only one they’ll get is that of Jonah.”

Then Jesus left them and went elsewhere.

Later, when they were sailing across to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered that they’d forgotten to bring any bread.

“Watch out,” said Jesus to them. “Avoid the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The disciples began to discuss this among themselves. “He means we didn’t bring any bread,” they said.

“My friends of little faith,” said Jesus, “why are you talking about bread? Have your eyes been shut? Don’t you remember the five thousand people who were fed with five loaves? And how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up? And then there were the four thousand people who were fed with seven loaves. How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up? Don’t you see that bread isn’t the problem? Listen! I’ll say it again: avoid the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Then they realised that he wasn’t referring to the yeast that’s in bread, but to the faulty logic of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

When Jesus arrived in the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

“Some say John the Baptist,” they said, “and some say Elijah. Others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“What about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

“You’re the Messiah,” said Simon Peter, “the Son of the living God.”

“You’re privileged, Simon son of Jonah. This hasn’t been revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I’m telling you that you’re Peter. On this rock I’m going to build my church, and the gates of hell won’t withstand it. I’m giving you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will be released in heaven.” Then Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

After that, Jesus began to prepare his disciples for what lay ahead. He must go to Jerusalem, he told them. There he was going to suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law – and he would be killed. But on the third day he would rise from the dead.

Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to criticize him for saying such things.

“No, Lord!” he said. “This isn’t going to happen to you!”

“Get behind me, Satan!” said Jesus to Peter. “You’ve become an obstacle to me! You’re not concerned about the things of God, but only the things of man.”

Then he turned to his disciples.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple,” he said, “must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What good would it be it for a man to gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in his Father’s glory and with his angels, and then he’ll repay each person according to what things he’s done.

“And I can assure you that some who are standing here right now won’t taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Matthew

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