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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 12: Matthew 16:21-17:9, by Kevin M. Williams

From Pneuma Review Winter 2004

Journey through the Gospel to the Hebrews with Kevin Williams as he unveils rich Hebraisms and prophetic Messianic insights.


From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:21-23).

What a transition it must have been: to hear Yeshua (Jesus) give the inspiring promise of building the ecclesia only to promise his suffering. The disciples must have been deeply perplexed. How could these opposing ideas lead to such a demise for their Rabbi and yet bring about the promises of Matthew 16:12-20?

It may have been more than Kefa (Peter) could bear.

Yet Yeshua explains that he must suffer at the hands of the elders, the chief priest, and the scribes. We might easily say that these groups had no genuine idea of God’s intentions—as educated, as practiced, as devout as they were. We may even marvel that those seemingly so close to God—so studied in the sacred texts—could so easily miss His purposes.

Certainly we can expect better from the Messiah’s own disciples, can we not?

The answer appears to be, “no.” Even those with whom Yeshua broke bread, with whom he walked, slept, worshiped, before whom he performed miracles and taught—those who were closer to him than any other people on earth—who even had acknowledged Him as the promised Messiah—could be deceived by Satan.

Is there a lesson here for us today? Can those who acknowledge Yeshua as their Lord and Savior be “demonized” in this way? Can believers walk down a path contrary to the purposes of God, even while claiming to be disciples?

If Peter is any example, then the answer must be “yes.” If Peter, then why not Judas? If Peter, why not us?

A modern example came shortly after word got out that Martin Scorsese had produced the film, The Last Temptation of Christ. Ministry heads, pastors, teachers, and people from the pews spoke out vehemently against the movie. Marches were formed and cinemas picketed. Viewers were ridiculed and much damage was done to the worldwide opinion of the Ecclesia.

There were some, however, who saw this as an opportunity and contacted theater management. Would they give Christians 10 minutes after the movie to speak with the audiences? Might we have a chance to cooperate with them and share the good news as presented in the Bible? The resounding answer from these overwhelmed and somewhat frightened managers was, “yes,” even at the highest corporate levels. However, call after call to ministry offices, to pastors, and to congregants came to naught. They would defend God and his honor and continue to picket the movie-theatres and ridicule those who attended. No one was going to be allowed to defame their Messiah. They would not, however, do something like speak with an audience after a showing of this “blasphemous” movie.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2004

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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