Come, Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler | Matthew 11-12; Luke 11 | Book of Mormon Central | Scripture Central

VIDEO: Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler | Thou Art the Christ | Matthew 15-17; Mark 7-9 | Scripture Central | Book of Mormon Central


I’m Taylor.

And I’m Tyler.

This is Scripture Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.

This week, Matthew 15 through 17 and Mark, chapters 7-9.

In this first episode, we’re going to cover Matthew 15 and 16 and mix in elements from Mark as it, as it applies. And then our second episode will cover Matthew 17 and do the same thing mixed in with some scriptures from Mark. So we jump in today in chapter 15, keeping in mind this is right after the two incredible miracles in Matthew 14 of feeding of the 5000 and walking on the water. And we’re introduced right out of the gates here in verse one to some scribes and Pharisees which were of Jerusalem. So we’ve got a group of leaders of the Jewish people who have come north to the Galilee from Jerusalem and they’re on the lookout. They are calling Jesus out because of his disciples. Have you noticed this pattern? They’re rarely coming to Jesus telling him what he’s doing wrong. It’s usually you’re taking responsibility for this group of people who are following you and they’re not following you appropriately because they’re breaking our tradition, the law of Moses as we interpret it. And in this case, you’ll see the wording here, why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? Did you see that?

Their question wasn’t why do you and your apostles break the law of Moses? They didn’t word it that way. The accusation is you’re letting your disciples transgress or break the tradition of the elders. They’re breaking with our oral accepted law.

You’re doing things outside our cultural expectations that we have established and accepted over a long time.

And what is that? They wash not their hands when they eat bread. The Jews in Matthew’s audience would have understood this very well, that these Pharisees and scribes, they’re very careful to always be washing the hands if they come from the marker, if they come from outside, if they come from anything, they’re always washing their hands and their pots and their dishes and their cups and their tables. They’re very focused on cleanliness. And apparently Jesus isn’t making a big deal of this with his disciples. Now notice a pattern. Often when Jesus gets questioned on his lack of living, some tradition or some law that they have accepted as a society, as a culture in their day, Jesus rarely addresses the actual issue that they’re bringing up with him. Usually he points them to the Old Testament and he’ll give them either some other law that they’re struggling with or he’ll point them to the Old Testament, to the law of Moses, and ask them to go back and rethink the law as it comes to us in the Old Testament. But he answered and said unto them, why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Can you see the difference? They’re saying you’re not following the tradition of the elders. And his response is well, you’re not following the commandment of God. So there’s a tradition compared to a commandment the elders compared to God. He’s raised the stakes significantly here. And what is it that he’s talking to them about? For God commanded saying, honor thy father and thy mother, and he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But they have this tradition, it’s called Corbin. So you’ll see that word in the Mark version of this telling of the story, where they have a tradition that you are in charge of taking care of your parents when they begin to age, when they’re no longer able to take care of their own physical needs. Well, among this group of leaders of the Jews, they have this tradition that says there’s an out. If I give a gift to the temple or to the Lord, then I no longer have to take care of my aging father and mother. It’s Corbin. It’s a gift. It’s a gift to God and it now makes it so I don’t have to worry about taking care of mom and dad.

And Jesus is telling them that is a terrible tradition. God doesn’t want you to give Corbin or a gift to the temple to him, while ignoring your mother and father who desperately need you to take care of them in their older years.

So he brings in Old Testament prophet Isaiah that these people should know and honor, saying, well, did Isaiah prophesy of you saying this? People drawth nigh unto me with their mouth and honourth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, but in vain or emptiness they do worship me, teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men. There’s a pattern that we see that Jesus teaches on a regular basis. And let me see if I can express it in a different way. There’s this word I heard recently called churchianity and I thought it was kind of an interesting word. It’s the idea that we get sometimes so fixed on the forms and functions of how we do religion. Now, let’s think again. The Pharisees thought that they were doing religion, in some cases they were using religious processes to get away from other weightier matters. And then if we could just draw a line this way and another one pointing up. There’s another connection here. So let’s draw all the way out here. So religion and what God has offered us is about relationships. We love our neighbor, that’s horizontal and we love God.

So it’s all about relationships. And sometimes if we get too focused on the forms of religiosity or things in church, like have I washed my hands enough that we miss? The whole point is about building and maintaining relationships horizontally. Love your neighbor, love your family, and love God. And I have been thinking about that. I’m like where in my life am I making myself feel better, that I’m doing the right outward things? But my heart isn’t really in it. And I confess, as a fallen human nature, there are times that I do these things. Now, to be fair and to be clear, we don’t want to give up doing good religious things. We just have to make sure we’re doing for the right purposes. Is washing your hands a bad thing? No. But if washing your hands gets in the way of loving people and loving God, then there’s a problem. So religion and church should not get in the way of relationships, should not get in the way of God. The purpose of religion, the purpose of church is to facilitate relational engagement. Think about our churches. We gather together on a regular basis in community.

We do fast offerings to support one another. We do ministering. We are in families, and we have all these opportunities to serve. It’s all about building relationships. And we’re regularly called upon to remember who is the source of all. And this is one way we can see what Jesus is trying to get across. That just like today. The ancient Pharisees struggle at times getting distracted with forms of religion that may have had a good purpose, but that purpose got swallowed up in the ritualized nature and the relationships were lost.

So once he’s finished this discussion with the Pharisees and the scribes that had come up from Jerusalem, verse ten says and he called the multitude and said unto them, hear and understand. Did you see that? He didn’t explain it to the Pharisees and the scribes. He sent them to another Old Testament passage into the law of Moses with honor thy father and thy mother. And then they’re gone. Now he calls the multitude together and he says to them, he gives them the clarification on this washing of the hands. Tradition, verse eleven. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth that defileth a man. It’s that idea of whether your hands are totally clean doesn’t matter, because it’s what comes out that shows what’s in your heart in this context. And then verse twelve says, then came his disciples and said unto him, knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying? This had to be one of those fun moments where they’re saying to Him, jesus, did you know that you offended some of them by what you just said? And his answer is, every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up.

He’s not afraid of offending people who choose to take offense at the truth that he’s teaching, and so let them alone.

Now, we have to be careful here. Sometimes in society people say, well, I’m just going to say really blatant things, and I don’t care if people are offended. There’s one thing about speaking gospel truth that’s inviting people to be in deeper, more loving relationships with their neighbors and family and with God. That’s what Jesus is doing versus just being offensive because you have an opinion about something and well, I’m just going to speak my truth, regardless of how it falls out on people’s ears. This statement here about it’s not what goes in, but what comes out. This is important because all of us have an opportunity to build those around us with words. And are we going to build with truth and love or are we going to tear down with deceit and lies? Remember, Satan is the father of lies. And so if somebody is sharing lies and deceit, they aren’t doing God’s work. So I see one of the invitations for us is to speak truthfully and to speak lovingly and inviting people back into covenantal relationships with one another and with God. And that’s why I don’t think Jesus has a problem with offending the Pharisees, because he’s simply inviting them to do what Moses, their favorite prophet, had asked them to do.

Ultimately was his own words as Jehovah to Moses long ago.

And so he gives Peter and some of the other apostles further clarification, because Peter asks for it in verse 15. Then answered Peter and said unto him, declare unto us this parable. It’s as if they’re saying, okay, we understand what you said, but we don’t understand what it really means. And so Jesus gives them more clarification. Look at verse 18. Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. Some would say, well, then, if it doesn’t matter what goes in, if that can’t defile us, then why do we even have a word of wisdom? I don’t think Jesus was intending to talk to us in the latter days about our word of wisdom today. That has been given to us by revelation in section 89 of the Doctrine of Covenants. I think he’s talking to them in their context, in their culture. It has nothing to do with harmful substances. It has everything to do with a tradition that they have to wash their hands vigorously to make sure that when they eat, they’re not being defiled inside. And here he is saying no. These very same people that feel like they’re so self righteous because they wash their hands before they eat, they’re saying terrible things and making people turn away from God that’s defiling them way more than you not washing your hands.

And that was a pretty shocking statement for so many generations among the Jews, the belief was that there were a series of rituals you could go through to be at one with God. They had sacrifices, there was washing of hands and so on and so forth. And Jesus is trying to point out these actions alone are insufficient to put you in line with God, especially if you miss the essence of why you do these things. Now, obviously, for hygiene purposes, we know it’s important to wash hands, but if you’re washing hands. Symbolically, what’s the point? It is to demonstrate that your vessel has been cleansed, ready to receive God. Let’s consider the sacrament. We have a piece of bread and a piece of water. Those things all on their own aren’t going to do much for you. But when we pray over them and bless them, symbolizing that we are ingesting the love of God which grows in us as a tree of everlasting life. But this would be like Jesus coming today. Like, do you really think that a little piece of bread and water is going to save you? And it might be shocking to hear that.

And fundamentally those things can’t save you. But if we remember the purpose for why they’re done and that it draws us to God and to be in a relationship, covenantal relationship with those around us, then yes, those things will save us because of Jesus Christ. And so back in their culture, to be fair to the Pharisees and Jesus disciples, I don’t think they had actually ever seen it like this before. I think they’d been spending so much time with the rituals, the outward rituals, they hadn’t been taught the importance of the inward meaning of why these things mattered.

So now we shift venues, locations. In verse 21 it says, then Jesus went fence and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Siddon. So if you have the Mediterranean Sea coast here with Jerusalem down here, capernum right here, Sea of Galilee, tyre and Siddon are up here on the Mediterranean Sea coast. These are not Jewish fishing villages or traditional Israelite locations. He’s going to what would be gentile vacation spots out on the sea coast, the Mediterranean Sea. This is where you go to traditionally unwind and relax. And in Mark’s account, it tells that he didn’t want anyone to know they were going there. He wanted to keep it a secret, although it was impossible to keep it a secret. So while he’s there with his apostles, verse 22 says, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts. Mark’s account says she was a Greek, a serophanetian woman. So she’s not an Israelite, she’s not in the house of Israel. She’s of a different nationality, probably a different race. She comes to Jesus and look at her plea. Have mercy on me, O Lord. Thou Son of David. My daughter is grievously vexed with the devil.

Now, this is a difficult miracle, one of the more difficult miracles to digest because of modern cultural sensitivities that we have today. His answer in verse 23 is but he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, send her away, for she cried after us. Can you picture this woman? She’s probably a little desperate in behalf of her daughter’s well being. And she’s pleading and Jesus answered her not a word. Most of us culturally, that our image of what the Christlike thing to do would be to have him turn to her in this next verse and say, and it came to pass that he said unto the woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee according to thy word, or something along those lines. But instead we can’t fit Jesus into a box that we’ve prepared for him in our mind. We can’t make Him do what we always think he should do. And in this case, he didn’t answer her a word. He doesn’t respond at all. Which means she now goes to the disciples, the apostles, and she’s pleading with them, do something. Have him do something.

So they come to Jesus and say, can you send her away? She’s kind of bothering us, maybe a bit annoying at this point. And verse 24 but he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Interesting. So now this woman has had two different responses from Jesus. One, silence and b no. These miracles are for the children of the house of Israel, not for those outside yet at this phase. So at that point, she would be justified, culturally speaking, at standing up, spitting at his feet and walking away in a rage, muttering under her breath how unfair this was and being offended. I love this lady. Look at her response. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. She had every reason to walk away from Jesus offended, frustrated. She hadn’t gotten what she had wanted. And she could even claim that she had maybe been treated with disrespect or been pushed aside unjustly. But she doesn’t. Instead, she comes now worshipping Him with a follow up plea lord, help me.

But even then, he still doesn’t immediately answer her request. He gives her one more opportunity to prove her faithfulness.

And so he says, it is not meat to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs. This is a hard saying. And again, she could get up very easily and be offended at this point, but she doesn’t. She said, truth Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table. And now Jesus said unto her, woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that hour clear. Back in 2007, in General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott gave an amazing talk called Using the Supernal Power of Prayer or the Supernal gift of prayer. And in that talk, Elder Scott talks about three types of responses that you get every time you ask a blessing or make a petition of the Lord. You’re either going to get silence, you’re going to get a no, or you’re going to get yes. I think it’s fascinating with this particular miracle that this woman got all three answers within that very short sequence of events in this chapter, she was given silence. And silence is not an inherent no, nor is it a yes?

Silence seems to be this invitation to keep digging, keep asking, keep pondering, keep stretching. Then she’s told no. But it’s not a hard no like the no given to, say, Joseph Smith when asked by Martin Harris if if he could take the 116 pages, he was told no. And then he asked again and he was told no. And then he asked again and he was told, okay, you’re not going to take no for an answer, so you can take them. So there’s a subtle difference there with this experience where she’s told in a soft way, yeah, these miracles are for the House of Israel. And some of you would be thinking, wait a minute. The centurion back in Matthew, chapter eight was allowed to have his servant or son, whatever it was, healed, and you’d be right there’s. The man with the legion of devils over in the Decapolis region, who seems to have been a Gentile, and he was healed. You’re right. There are some occasions where there are these exceptions. I love the fact that this woman keeps at it, and her petition and her meekness and her worshipfulness, they strengthen as you watch this story progress down through this sequence until she gets her yes.

Now, here are some things that are helpful to kind of work through when trying to digest and make sense of this story. What would have happened if that woman would have come in, made a request, as often happens with others in the House of Israel when they’re making these kinds of requests? What would have happened if he had instantaneously given her her request and she had left? She would have been happy, elated, gone home with a miracle. It would have been wonderful. But what happens when she now leaves that experience after having worked through that trial of faith, through those hard sayings, wrestling with those issues culturally, and now she walks out the door with her yes. I don’t know. I could be wrong on this, but the Lord knows what’s best for each individual person, and sometimes it’s not right to have them go through that long process. And so he quickly heals, and other times he lets them stretch and reach and grow in order, I think, to exercise and strengthen their faith and their devotion to God and their trust in Him. And I think that if that Serophanetian woman were standing here today, I don’t think she would mention to us, oh, let me tell you how awful this trial of faith was.

Let me tell you how hard it was to hear some of those sayings and to feel ignored at first. I don’t think she would mention any of that. I think she would talk about how good God is and how much we can put our complete trust in Him, in his methods and in his timing. I think she would testify to us that Jesus knows what he’s doing when it comes to when and how and in what manner he answers our petitions and our pleas and our requests for his miracles and his help. So even though on the surface this looks like a really difficult miracle to reconcile because of some of the hard sayings at a 10,000 foot overview look, this is one of the most profound miracles because at the end of the day I’m the seraphanetian woman, symbolically. And you are too when we come to the Lord in prayer because we’re going to occasionally get this same process where he doesn’t just instantaneously give us what we ask for. So it’s our invitation to dig a little deeper into our faith.

I find this story so compelling because Jesus does make these claims I’m sent to the House of Israel, and yet he purposely has chosen to come to this area outside the boundaries of Israel. And I think he it’s my own opinion I think that he purposely goes there in order to have this kind of experience to inspire us that getting blessings from God is something that requires effort and time and that anybody you got to think about this. In his culture, non Israelite women were probably the last kind of person that someone in his society would ever be hanging out with or paying attention to. And so it’s the least of these. Culturally she was one of the least of these and he still responds wherever you’re at in your life, if you feel like you’re one of the least of these, you still are within the bounds of Jesus’s love.

So in the rest of chapter 15 you get Jesus now returning from Tyreseidon area, back down into the Galilee. And he goes up into a mountain and a great multitude came to him. And again there were many who were lame, blind, dumb, maimed and many others. And he were cast down at the feet of Jesus and he healed them. You’ll notice there doesn’t seem to be this long drawn out process for most of them at least if there was, we don’t get any word of it. Which to me points to the the personal nature of the Savior’s love and of his care for each of us that he knows what you need. And if you’ve asked in faith and haven’t gotten something something or if you have asked in faith and you’ve received it, we’ve got to trust that he really does know what he’s doing here with what is best for our eternal welfare. If you jump into chapter 16 now the Pharisees and the Sadducees came and they tempting desired Him that he would show them a sign from Heaven. So they’re coming with the intent to tempt Him, to trap Him, to make Him look bad in front of her.

Show us a sign, prove it. Well, this is the second time we’ve talked through this topic in the Gospels where he says verse two instead of showing them a sign instead of actually doing what they’re demanding that he do. He says, when it is evening, you say it will be fair weather, for the sky is red, and in the morning, if it will be foul weather, it will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and lowering, or really cloudy. Cloudy. It’s that old saying that many of you have heard. Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. This is an old tradition that the red sky at night is great. Red sky in the morning. Look out, storms coming. And he’s saying to the Pharisees and Sadducees, you can read those signs that are given in the heaven. But verse four, a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall be no sign given unto it but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them and departed. He refuses to engage them in their trap, so then he goes to the other side, and now he tells his disciples, because they didn’t bring any food with them.

Verse six, take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And some of them are saying, I wonder if Jesus is saying we shouldn’t go and buy any bread from the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They’ve been with him a long time, and they still haven’t picked up on the fact that you have to just kind of assume that Jesus is speaking symbolically more from a Hebrew context rather than from a Greek literalist context. And they’re interpreting that. They’re just so used to the literal interpretations, they’re still having a hard time.

My heart goes out to these guys. They’ve been trained in a very, extremely, very literal world. And sometimes I get myself mixed up in scriptures because I take things super literally and sometimes miss the deeper meaning that’s intended.

So then they finally, after he explains it to them, they’re saying, oh, it’s the leaven of their doctrine that will influence our whole lives if we consume it. So we’re not going to pay attention to their traditions at this point.

Yeah, then you have this really fascinating story. So let’s put ourselves geographically in context. So they’ve been in Capernum, and this next story happens in a different location. It’s about 25 miles north as the crow flies. So imagine about a two day hike to a place called Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi happened to be on the border. It was kind of a GrecoRoman town, and it was a border town between two provinces and this area where Jesus now goes with his disciples, there’s lots of people from the Greek and the Roman traditions who go to this location to worship gods of their own making. And it’s interesting that Jesus has this fascinating conversation with his disciples in this location. Now, it turns out the conversation here teaches us all sorts of truth about God and revelation and the church. And fundamentally this conversation could have happened anywhere. But Jesus chose to walk his disciples two days. Two days. And then he asked this interesting question. He says, who am I? Now, I just want you to pause and think for a second. If you went on a hike with anybody, somebody you’d known quite well, and you went hiking for two days and at the end of two days of hiking they turned and said, who am I?

You might wonder what’s going on? That’s kind of an odd question and couldn’t you have asked that before we left? But Jesus purposely takes them to this location because it’s one of the best object lesson locations for teaching a whole series of lessons to his disciples.

This particular place is filled with idols and altars and idol worshippers. This is kind of the Mecca for the region if you want it in a Greco Roman worshipping, the pantheon of Greco Roman gods and goddesses, this is where you would make your pilgrimage to from all this region. So Taylor’s point of why go on this long 25 miles hike? One way to ask these simple questions of identity. I think there’s incredible symbolism to why he picked that location. You were in the center place of pagan worship with people, devotees coming to make their sacrifices and their offerings to their various favorite gods and goddesses. And it’s there where the Son of the Living God comes to ask the question. His first question was, whom do men say that I am? Who have you heard people referring to me as? And their answer in verse 14 has said, some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremiahs, or one of the prophets. See, that first question was just a momentum builder to get to the most salient or most important question, which is, he saith unto them, but whom say ye that I am?

Brothers and sisters, this is a critical moment in the life, in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He has been working with these twelve apostles for a couple of years now and they have seen the miracles, they’ve heard the teachings, they’ve heard the parables, they’ve heard some interpretations, they’ve watched him interact with people. And he knows that the end is near, as we’re going to see here in a few verses. It’s not many, many months away and he’s going to be leaving this earth and he’s trying to establish them on a firm rooted foundation of understanding of who he really is. And if they really understand who he really is and their callings, then they’ll better understand who they really are as well. So this question is so beautiful, not just for them back then, but for me and you today, whom say ye that I am? That would be worth some pondering time today or this week, is to really wrestle with who is Jesus Christ? To me, who is he? Is he. Just a picture on a wall or a statue? Is he a name on a page? Or is he the living son of the Almighty God who actively is working with me to walk on the covenant path with him?

Look at Peter’s response, verse 16, one of his finest moments. And Simon Peter answered and said, thou art the Christ, the Anointed One, the son of the living God. Here you are in Caesaria Philippi. Those words mean a lot more in Caesaria Philippi than they would have meant anywhere else in all of the geographic region for hundreds of miles. Why? Because you’ve got people who are coming. Keep in mind it’s Caesarea Philippi. Caesar is seen by the Greco Romans as what? He’s not just a man, he’s a god.

In fact, they are standing likely in front of a temple dedicated to Caesar Augustus. Caesar Augustus was the emperor after his uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated. And Julius Caesar. And Caesar Augustus were both voted by the Roman Senate. Divine honors. They were basically put into the pantheon after they died. So now people could put up temples to these two men. So Caesar Augustus is now being worshipped. But what do we know about Caesar Augustus? So if he’s considered a god, he’s dead. Augustus is dead. And worse than that, his uncle, his adopted father, is also dead. So what does Peter say?

Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.

Now, it’s interesting, you can see the phrase the Son of God all over the scriptures, but this particular detail, living God, doesn’t show up a lot. But right here it matters because people are worshipping a dead God who is the son of another dead God, who isn’t really a god exactly, a false god. So right away, Peter knows and speaks truly of the full living reality of who Jesus Christ is. And now this statement, you can read it anywhere, and it’s true. But right there, that physical backdrop, that object lesson of being in front of the temple to Caesar Augustus makes this message even more powerful. So we may not be there today, but Jesus is your living God right now. He lives for you.

Look at verse 17, Jesus’s response. He answered and said unto Peter, blessed art thou, Simon bar jonah. Remember, Bar means son of So, son of Jonah, or Jonas, if you want to use the Greek name. Blessed art thou, simon bar. Jonah. For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven. The word revealed, it is this apocalypto. It’s this to uncover, to make clear, to reveal. God has apocalypted this. He’s shown this to you, Peter. You didn’t get this from flesh and blood. You didn’t turn horizontally to get your testimony of me. It was given to you by revelation from Heavenly Father. Such a profound idea that if I’m looking to horizontal sources to prove the Gospel is true, or to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. And that’s where my testimony comes from, is I’m convinced by arguments and by horizontal evidences, then it’s just a matter of time before I run into additional horizontal evidences that are going to point in a different direction and I walk away from the faith. The critical point here is that we turn heavenward for our answer to those questions that really matter who is Jesus Christ to me?

Who is the Christ to me? So now verse 18 is highly significant. Jesus goes on to say, and I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Once again, back to that same area, the gates of hell, the gates of Hades, the gates to the underworld, they’re not going to prevail against what I’m giving you, this ability to receive revelation directly from God. So if you look at the wording here, he says, if you look in the Greek New Testament, thou art Petros, and upon this Petra I will build my church. Petros is the Greek word for a little rock. A small rock. You’re a rock, Peter. It could even be a boulder, maybe, but it’s a little rock. Petra is a huge rock. It’s like a cliff. And here we are at Caesaria Philippi on the foot of Mount Hermone.

It’s the greatest visual object lesson. It’s the most immovable thing anywhere for 500 miles. And as you’re walking from Capernum, you are staring at this mountain. Now, you’re starting at 600ft below sea level. This is a 9000 foot mountain. It is huge and indomitable. You would have spent two days staring at this rock, and Jesus says, upon this rock I will build my church. I can’t imagine a better object lesson than where Jesus took them. And they saw the largest mountain anywhere that they’d probably ever encountered in their entire lives as a symbol for God’s revelation and a symbol for God’s immovable and indomitable church.

So love the fact that we’re standing at the foot of a Petra and Peter is being told, you’re a petros, you’re a little rock. But upon this big rock, which now leaves lots of room for interpretation, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, the way we have traditionally interpreted that, and I believe rightly so, is to say, what is this rock, this Petra, that Jesus is going to establish his church upon? We know it’s his church. So ultimately, he, Jesus himself, is the Petra, the big rock, the foundation for the church and for all of us. But more important than that, in this context is the fact that Peter didn’t have any earthly source for his testimony. It came from God guiding Peter on the earth. That rock of Revelation, that cornerstone of it’s still going to be the Church of Jesus Christ even after he dies. And is resurrected and taken to heaven, it’s still going to be the church of Jesus Christ. It’s not going to be the church of Peter. Just like in our latter days, it’s never been the church of Joseph Smith, or the church of Brigham Young, or the church of any subsequent prophet.

It’s always the church of Jesus Christ, built on the foundation of Christ with Revelation, the Rock of Revelation, giving us God’s direction at every phase as to what to do. And then you get verse 19. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. You’ll notice in a lot of art depictions of Peter, he’s often depicted showing a key ring, a large keyring with two keys hanging down, one being the key to heaven. One being the key to earth. Whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And now, as he gets ready to leave Caesaria Philippi and go back down to Galilee, the apostles have had this experience where they recognize what they now know, especially Peter here. That testimony is pretty sure. Look at verse 20. Then charged he his disciples, that they should tell no man that he was Jesus Christ, the Christ.

It’s a little curious. We tell our missionaries to tell people, why would Jesus tell his own disciples, don’t tell anybody who I am, when this whole conversation was about his identity, and just verifying and making sure and secure in their minds who he is. So what’s going on here?

It’s interesting because he’s going to give us an answer to that question in this next section. He has a few more things to fulfill in his ministry before it will be time to perform his infinite atonement and lay down his life. That can’t happen before it’s appointed time. So he’s saying, don’t tell. Not yet. Just hold on. Look at verse 21. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised again the third day. So he’s basically telling them the full story that’s going to come forth here in a few chapters. And so Peter’s obvious response, verse 22. Then Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee. I don’t know what his exact words were, but it would be something like, are you kidding? Well, then I’ve got a solution. Don’t go to Jerusalem. You can prevent this tragedy from happening. At which point Jesus responds with a very hard saying because Peter is trying.

To turn Jesus away from his appointed path. He’s trying to turn him aside.

So Jesus turned and said unto Peter, get thee behind me. Satan, thou art an offense unto me, for thou savorst not the things that be of God. Fascinating. Get thee behind me. There have been countless articles written on this statement, on this verse, lots of speeches given. At the end of the day, the reality is the word Satan comes from the Hebrew Satan, which means an adversary, somebody who’s trying to prevent you from going the direction you want to go. If you look in the Old Testament, in the Hebrew Bible, the word Satan, this exact idea shows up in the story of Balam and Balak. Remember Balam and the talking donkey? Well, the angel shows up in the way to stop the donkey from going any further along that way. And in Numbers, chapter 22, verse 22 tells you that the angel is a Satan. He is somebody who’s preventing Balaam and that donkey from going where they wanted.

To go, and he’s turning them onto another path. He’s an adversary. The word verse literally means to turn. When people used to read verses, they would read this way and then back. Now we actually just have it from left to right, over and over. But an adversary is somebody who turns you out of the way. So just technically, that’s what happens. Anytime somebody turns you out of the way, it’s an adversary. But we often see it as a very extremely negative thing and only then often call one person Satan.

Yeah, we’ve now used that word to narrowly be defined as the chief devil down in hell, Lucifer, from the beginning, but it has a much wider meaning to the Hebrew people. And in antiquity, you can picture him saying to Peter, get thee behind me. You’re being an adversary, you’re trying to prevent me from going where I need to go. Now, as one little add on to this concept, get thee behind me. When spoken to, a disciple is another, more command form way of saying, follow me, Peter. Don’t try to get in front of me. Don’t try to tell me what to do or what not to do. I know what my mission is. I know what I have to do. Get behind me. And the implication here is, come, follow me. Do the things which you’ve seen me do. Don’t try to stop me. One of the tricks in life, especially in leadership and in parenting, is to learn how to get directions from heaven and from those whose right and keys and authority it is. To give us vision and to give us direction and to take that direction and figure out how to implement it rather than trying to turn it into a democracy and figure out what everybody thinks is best.

And then let’s do that. At the end of the day, nobody’s going to end up happy. And I love this example very clearly stated by Jesus. He knows who he is, he knows what he needs to do. And he’s telling he’s inviting everybody else to get behind him and basically follow him and watch and observe. I’ll show you what needs to happen. And then verse 24, he says, Then Saith said, Jesus under his disciples, if any man will come after me, if you’ll follow me, let him deny Himself and take up his cross and follow me. And I love the Joseph Smith translation out on here when he says, and now for a man to take up his cross is to deny Himself all ungodliness and every worldly lust and keep my commandments. This is coming from Jesus Christ, who he just got through telling his apostles, when I go to Jerusalem next, I’m going to be turned over to the realms, I’m going to be slain, I’m going to be laid in a grave and I’m going to raise again. I’m going to go down and suffer and die. He is the ultimate example of what it means to take up one’s cross, which is he’s not saying, oh, I can’t wait to go to Jerusalem.

This is going to be a thrill for me. There’s nothing fun about that experience that’s awaiting Him. But he takes up his cross and he’s willing to do what needs to be done, even though it’s not going to be pleasurable in any way, shape or form. So he finishes this concept in verse 25 and six when he says, for whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Can you picture the power of that statement in that context? If your whole mission in life is to try to save your own life, symbolically or literally, and it’s all you’re trying to do, he’s saying, then what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? What would you be willing to pay to redeem your soul? And here’s Jesus saying, you don’t have to pay. Just give your life to me, and my life that I gave for you will be yours free for the taking.


Now, in closing, it’s our hope that we can more fully engage with this really profound question, but whom say ye that I am? That question coming to us from the Savior and that if we can figure out what path the Lord has given us to walk on, that we’ll follow Him on that path, and that we’ll trust Him taking up our cross, which is being willing to do whatever he wants us to do and deny ourselves of all ungodliness and every worldly lust and keep his commandments. Because that’s the way that we access his grace. As we jump into chapter 17, verse one, it says, and after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart. This after six days thing is significant because it harkens back to the experiences in chapter 16 that we covered in the first episode of this week, where he took them to Caesarea Philippi. And it was there that he promised Peter that he would give him the keys of the kingdom, the sealing power, even you would be able to seal things on Earth and in heaven. And now after six days, we go up into this high mountain apart, that’s kind of a flag phrase in Scripture to signify a temple like experience where you’re in this high and holy place.

And in the ancient perspective, you’re as close to heaven as you can get when you’re in a mountaintop. And it’s a part there’s some privacy here and here. While in that mountain, Jesus was transfigured before them and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And then they had some others appear. Moses and Elias were talking with him. So you can picture Peter, James and John with this feeling of wow. And the wording here is beautiful. Peter said to Jesus, lord, it is good for us to be here if thou wilt. Let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias. Let’s make these tabernacles for you. Verse five goes on to say, while he yet spake behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, almost as if to say, peter, it was a wonderful sentiment to build three tabernacles, but God is able to do his own work in this regard. And so this cloud comes and overshadows them to do the work of what a booth or a tabernacle would have done instead.

And I see a few connections to the Israelites being out in the wilderness with God. There they also built these temporary dwellings, or tabernacles, and there they had a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. So there might be some echoes here to this ancient Israelite experience of being out in the wilderness. And there you can encounter God.

And it’s in this experience where we hear one of the beautiful instances of God the Father bearing testimony of and introducing his Son. In verse five it says, and behold a voice out of the cloud which said, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him. I love how often the Lord repeats how often Heavenly Father repeats this idea of bearing testimony. This is my beloved Son, and I’m well pleased in Him. Hear ye him. This phrase hear him has been emphasized by our prophets, Sears and Revelators. And it’s a beautiful message to tune our ear to the voice of the Savior speaking to us.

I love this word beloved. Far past lesson we talked about this, but it comes from two words. It comes from the word love, and the word b means fully or 100%. It’s an intensifier. God is so proud of His Son it’s not that I just love him. He is beloved, like to fullness and overflowing. So the word be intensifies the love that God has for his Son and actually I think for all of us.

Yeah. So after this experience up on the mountain concludes verse seven says and Jesus came and touched them and said arise and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man save Jesus only. And when they are coming down off the mountain trying to make sense of what happened up there, it says Jesus charged them saying tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. There are some things that just aren’t meant to be shared. And this is one of those where he says don’t share this with anybody until after my ascension, after my resurrection and ascension into heaven. If you’ll notice, just as a reminder, we’ve talked about this before, but that phrase, this is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased to hear him. We’ve heard the voice of God at the baptism of Christ. You’re going to hear it again in the third Nephi eleven account when he appears to the nephews and lemonites, you hear that same message when he appears to the prophet Joseph Smith in spring of 1820. That concept keeps coming up, but the one word that shows up every time that God introduces his Son and you get a couple of verses in 231, a verse in Helman five, where the voice of God is doing similar things.

There’s one word that shows up in every single one of those verses, and it’s the word beloved. I love that. Now back to our storyline here as you’re coming down off this temple experience this high holy mountain of the Lord kind of experience. And Jesus is telling them don’t share this. You’ll notice through the history of our church there have been certain times where heavenly messengers have come and restored keys. In section 110 of the Doctrine and Covenants, joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry have Moses, Elias and Elijah come and give keys. One of those people Elijah gives the ceiling keys to joseph and Oliver implication is that a very similar thing is happening here. If you look at the Old Testament, moses was taken up, he was translated. Elijah was taken up in a chariot, translated almost as if to say there are keys that they’re going to need to pass on later on before the resurrection. So they needed that physical body. So they’re translated rather than tasting of death at that point. Now we come down to verse ten where the disciples asked him, saying why then, say the scribes, that Elias must come, must first come.

And Jesus answered and said to them, elias truly shall first come and restore all things. This is the forerunner. You could see this as John the Baptist. He’s already come. Verse twelve, Elias is come already. And they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. He’s saying, look, the Elias for me has already come and they already killed him. And as they’re going to kill me. And then his disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. Now we shift gears away from that experience, that temple experience, to a miracle here starting in verse 14 when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man kneeling down to him saying lord, have mercy on my son for he is lunatic. And sorvexed for of times he falleth into the fire and oft into the water. And then he says and I brought this son who is struggling to your disciples, but they couldn’t cure him, they couldn’t fix the problem. And Jesus says, bring him hither to me. And he rebuked the devil. And he departed out of him and the child was cured from that very hour.

And then the disciples come to him scratching their heads saying what was wrong? Why couldn’t we cast him out? Because we tried but it didn’t work.

I do love the disciples earnestness. They want to learn. They are humble, even if they don’t always seem to get it. And I wonder if I had been in that crowd, had I been much better, I may have been one of these disciples like lord, I’m trying, but I’m just not getting things right here.

So they had asked this question why couldn’t we cast them out? And his answer in verse 20 is because of your unbelief prevaily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place and it shall remove and nothing shall be impossible unto you. How be it this kind? Goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting. This is an idea that sometimes you’re going to have a problem, an issue and you’re going to pray for it and it’s going to quickly go away. And other times you’re going to have other issues and you’re going to pray and pray and pray and fast and fast. And after a long process of time, finally it will go away. I think that’s a good lesson for us with our weakness and our struggles and our temptations that some of us that we all wrestle with to one degree or another. To close out chapter 17 of Matthew, we get this delightful little story of Peter starting in verse 24. When they were come to Capernum, they that received tribute money came to Peter and said doth not your master pay tribute?

So this tribute money, it finds its its root in the Old Testament law of Moses in Exodus chapter 30, verse one through 16, where you have to redeem your soul. If you’re 20 years old or older, the men you have to pay this half shekel temple tax as a redemption. It’s part of the law of Moses. And so they’ve come to collect this and they go to Peter and say, hey, doesn’t your master pay this tribute because we haven’t gotten the redemption money, so to speak, from him? And Peter’s response is yes. And then when he came into the house, Jesus prevented him. The word prevented there is a little confusing. If you look in the footnote, it says Jesus spoke to him first. So Jesus preempted any statement Peter was going to make by saying what thinkest thou, Simon? Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? Of their own children or of strangers? Do you collect collect tax or tribute money from your own children or from strangers and foreigners? And Peter said of strangers and Jesus said unto him, then are the children free notwithstanding, lest we should offend them.

Go thou to the sea and cast and hook and take up the fish that first cometh up. And when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money that take and give unto them. For me and thee you’re going to find a shekel. And the tax is a half a shekel for each adult male. So that one shekel will pay the tribute for both you and me. Are you seeing the potential layers of symbolism here? Jesus is going to help Peter pay a price that Peter apparently couldn’t pay on his own. He’s not been working a lot of hours. He’s not been getting a lot of money lately in this ministry. He doesn’t have the money to pay. It was one of the many biographers of the life of Christ, Frederick Ferrar, who once said, referring to this here, jesus pays what he did not owe to save us from what we owe but could not pay. The symbolism to our need for the Savior and his infinite atonement is so beautifully portrayed in that simple miracle that is easy to overlook and forget about. Now let’s jump over to chapter nine of Mark and pick up one more miracle.

And in this miracle you have a man who comes to Jesus and he says in verse so Mark nine, verse 17, one of the multitude answered and said, master, I have brought unto thee my son which hath a dumb spirit. And then he describes what this evil spirit has done with his child. And so Jesus in verse 23 said, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. It’s pretty simple, easy formula verse 24 and straightway the father of the child cried out and said with tears, o Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief. Are you noticing what happens in our English King James Version text? You have the phrase, Lord, I believe. Then a semicolon, then help thou mine unbelief. Then a period. Keep in mind there were no punctuation marks in any of our earliest Greek manuscripts. Those are all English editions, centuries after the New Testament was written. What we don’t get in words is the speed of speech, the rate of speech, the tone of voice, usually the pauses, the dramatic periods of silence we don’t know, so we’re left to wonder or even speculate. But at a symbolic level, if you can picture this being your story, my guess is that most of us don’t go to the Lord with our need and say, lord, I believe.

Help thou mine unbelief. My guess is that most of us go to the Lord with childlike faith to say, oh, yes, Lord, I believe. And then it’s as if there’s this long period of silence, longer for some than for others, where Jesus looks at us with a quiet, knowing look, perhaps a raised eyebrow of how much do you really believe? And then the moment of reckoning, the moment of truth, where we have to acknowledge the fact that, yeah, I’m not where I need to be yet in my faith. I love this story. It’s one of my favorites in the New Testament, because if I’m honest with myself, it’s my story. I’m this man, and symbolically, you’re this man. And we come to the Lord with these intense needs and say with firm faith, Lord, I believe. And then we have to really reconcile with the reality of I don’t believe as much as I should. I’m not where I need to be in my faith yet, but I know who can help me. I know who can get me where I need to be. And so I love this last four words help thou mine unbelief.

Now, there are other ways to read verse 24. There are other ways to interpret it, but I love looking from this aspect of bring what faith you have, offer it to the Lord, and then plead with him to strengthen those parts of your faith that are still lacking. And at this point, when Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried and rent him sore and came out of him, and he was as one, dead in so much that many said, he is dead. But then what did Jesus do? He completed the miracle. Verse 27 he took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. I love that, that Jesus didn’t just cast out the devil and then leave him laying there as if he were dead. He finished it. He raised him up and gave him that new lease on life to move forward without being fettered by that evil spirit.

We just share some additional perspectives on the word believe and belief. So we’ve seen before that the word b means 100%, and it turns out the word leaf or leave. In its most ancient sense means love. So when we choose to believe God, we are 100% loving him. Now, let’s tie this back into the old testament. In the Old Testament. God loved us. He had hessed for us everlasting kindness. The Abrahamic covenant was God saying, I will love you, Abraham, and your family for all of eternity. And anybody who gets connected to that family, my hessed, my love will be with them forever. And at mount Sinai, God says to the people, enter in, receive all the love I have to offer, and demonstrate that you receive my love by loving me back. And here’s a set of commandments. So when God asks us to believe in Him or to love him, it’s about demonstrating covenantal, loyalty and faithfulness. So there’s a couple of things going on here. When we see the word believe or belief, it’s a reminder that we’re invited to love God 100%, for he has already loved us. And as we show our love, we are in covenantal relationship.

And sometimes we need help and support. Sometimes we are imperfect in how we love. And so we say, lord help thou, my unbelief, I love you, but maybe I’m at 96% this week. For whatever reason, I’m just struggling. Help me fill that gap. Let thy hessid thy lovingkindness fill that gap, so I really can be fully full of love and have full belief in you.

So as we come to the close of this second episode this week, our invitation is for all of us to make ourselves like this man, this father, to come unto Christ and to plead with him for his Hessed. His lovingkindness to fill in all of those gaps and to strengthen even the elements of belief that we do have as we seek for his miracles and his love. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Know that you’re loved.


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