Matthew 16:1-12 Signs and False Teachers

Jesus had been doing so many signs and wonders that there was no possible way that they would have not known and more than likely seen what He had done. In fact when Jesus stood before Herod, Herod was hoping Jesus would do a miracle because it was what everyone was talking about in the region.

Luke 23:8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him.

The sign they wanted was not for them to have faith in Him as the Messiah and the miracle they wanted was to do something so grand that it would be bigger than all the miracles that HE had already performed. Raising people from the dead, healing the blind, the mute and the demon possessed they believed could be an act of the Devil. So the miracle they wanted was a test to try and get Him to fail in front of the people so that they could turn the people against Him.

1)   Would you recognize the signs of God?

How can you know how to read the sky but not the times?

Red Sky in the morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors delight.

This is the proverb that sailors use today and it is a general warning if there will be bad weather or not. With all the Bible Studies and resources many Christians tend to not see how God is working in their midst although He has made it clear to them. God wanted people to know as much as they possibly could about the Messiah so He told them hundreds of years ahead of time what to be watching for. There were 456 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and if you take out the ones which are repeats, you have over 100 specific prophecies to look for that the Messiah would have to fulfill.

These prophecies are not like the prophecies of Nostradamus or others who with general speech have had followers say that they predicted things. These prophecies were so specific that the odds of anyone meeting a few of them would be astronomically difficult but all of them an impossibility.

Some of the Prophecies Jesus Fulfilled

1)      Born in Bethlehem  predicted 700 years earlier by the Prophet Micah

Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

Fulfilled: Matthew 2:1-6

The reason Micah said Bethlehem Ephrathah is because there were two Bethlehem’s and he wanted to be specific which one the Messiah would come from.  King Herod questioned the religious leaders about where the Messiah would be born and they did not hesitate to tell him. (See Matthew 2)

2)      Virgin Birth

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel

 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:21-23


3)      Born in a Specific family

Descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:3), Isaac (Genesis 21:12), and Jacob (Genesis 28:14; Numbers 24:17). Must be from Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), He must be from the family of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1) and of the house of Jesse son David (2 Samuel 7:12-16)

Fulfilled Matthew 1:1-17

4)      His triumphant Entry into Jerusalem

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again[c] with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.

Fulfilled: Luke 19:27-44

The decree was made to rebuild and restore Jerusalem on March 5th 444 BC. (Nehemiah 2:1-8) Jesus rode in on a Donkey March 30th, 33 AD. (Luke 19:27-44) Exactly 173, 880 days as predicted. You can say that Jesus planned that knowing scripture but shouldn’t the religious leaders known that the Messiah would be around then?

5)      Healings

Isaiah 35:4-6 Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.” 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

Fulfilled: Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

These are just a few of the signs that Jesus was referring to that they should have known as Bible Scholars but they missed it not because of lack of information but because they were blinded by their own ideals of what the Messiah should be.

“Jesus used the term ‘signs of the times’ to verify His first coming. Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and performed the miracles of the Messiah right before the eyes of many people, yet they were blind to the clear confirmation of His identity. Despite being shown signs to look for, the people didn’t pay attention. Jesus fulfilled 109 prophecies during His life on earth, and He indicted the Jewish leaders for missing these signs.” (The End, by Mark Hitchcock)

An Evil and adulterous generation demands a sign.

It is not that there were no signs it was that everything already given them was not good enough. It is a common theme of man to not believe what is already presented about God and Jesus and to always want one more thing. God has given enough evidence of Himself through His creation, His word and through His people and if you will not accept that then why should He give you more?

The sign of Jonah is that Jesus will be in the tomb 3 days and then rise again. This sign was fulfilled after His resurrection but they even missed that sign.

Luke 16:31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

French Atheist Voltaire declared, “Even if  a miracle should be wrought in the open marketplace before a thousand sober witnesses, I would rather mistrust my senses than admit a miracle.”

Agnostics say if there is a God then He cannot be known. Of course, by saying that He cannot be known means that you know something about Him, which is He cannot be known.  It is not that He cannot be known it is that you choose not to know Him and ignore the evidence and the signs He has given.

Romans 1:19-20 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. .

And Jesus Left them

Jesus knew who wanted to really know the truth and who was just trying to prove their point. If you are truly searching for God and the truth He will reveal it to you but if you are only out to justify or solidify what you believe God will not force you to believe in Him.

Do you want to know the truth or are you just trying to defend your position on life?

Read Matthew 16:5-12

2)   Would you recognize false teaching?

False teachers are the reason the people missed the Messiah then and false teachers today are causing people to miss the Messiah as well.

Jesus used this time with His disciples to teach them a lesson. This is the best way to disciple someone as they are going along and a situation comes up because it is the best way to learn.

The disciples though forgot to bring enough food on their trip and so all they are thinking about is the food they do not have. So while Jesus is trying to teach them something about false teachers they missed the point originally because of concern about something trivial.

They were consumed by their mistake which is what can happen to us when all we focus on the things we did wrong instead of what God is doing. Jesus had to remind them that twice He made a small amount of food into more than enough to feed thousands and that they do not have to worry about their daily needs. Their focus was on the temporal and Jesus was concerned with the false teaching to the very people He came to save.

Colossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

One of the ways to recognize false teaching is to see if the teachings focus on God or the things of this world.

Beware of the Leaven: The Leaven would make the bread rise but it also represented something small that would destroy everything else. 

Just like the whole loaf of bread would rise by a small piece of leaven so could your life be affected by false teaching. We need to take seriously the teachings we read and listen to and test them to make sure they are from God. Every teaching needs to be compared to the Word of God to make sure that it is not twisted philosophies wrapped up in Bible verses.

Acts 17:11  Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

If the apostle Paul’s teaching should have been checked then so should anyone we listen to or read.

Two false teachings to watch out for are Legalism and Liberalism.

A)   Legalism

The Pharisees were into legalism and making sure that everyone followed the rules exactly but they missed the main point that it was heart change that God was after. They were more about impressing God by their works.

When I grew up legalism was what I was raised in, not so much by my parents but the private school I attended. It was about rules, rules and more rules. I was taught that every time you do something wrong God will pay you back three times for your sin. It was about adding extra rules so that you would not sin. The school I attended sent home a note and a paper to sign asking us to not play any games that had dice in them. I am glad that my parents removed me from that school shortly after that.

So everything was centered on works and making God Happy by the life you lived instead of by the grace of God since nothing we do is worthy of God in the first place.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Nothing you do can earn Gods favor with you. The Pharisees thought that God looked at them with all their rules and was so proud of them but as we have already heard Jesus called them blind guides. I always call these people in churches the Sin Nazi’s because they focus more on what people are or are not doing instead of seeing each person as saved by the Grace of God.

These are the ones who make things in the Bible sins even though they are not sins. The extra rules they set and use the extra rules as a measuring device to judge your Christianity.

Galatians 3:2-3 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh?

We have nothing to offer God even as Christians. Anything we do for God, He loves because He loves us not because of the work itself. My friend calls it refrigerator art. He calls it that because although your child is no artist you are still proud of it because you are proud of your child. You then place the work on the refrigerator for a time until you can discreetly throw it away. Our works are similar, they are not great but God loves them because we were apart of what He was doing.

If you are going to accomplish the will of God, for the Glory of God, then it has to be by the Spirit of God.

Acts 1:8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

I cannot accomplish the will of God by my own power and strength so I ask God to strengthen me to do the things He has called me to do. That is why you have to make sure that you spend regular time with Him.

John 15:5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

B)   Liberalism

The Sadducee’s were more liberal and twisted the word of God to fit their lifestyle. Religion was used to get them more out of this life and nothing to hinder the lifestyle that the Bible clearly taught was wrong.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ.

Notice how it swings from one side of the spectrum to the other. Now because of Grace, which I am for, people are accepting all sorts of things as appropriate lifestyles even though the Bible says they are wrong.

Liberalism not only does not focus on the wrong you have done, but also says that it is acceptable behavior.

  •  People will say things like; “That is just who they are”, or ” That is the way they have always been” or “They were born that way”

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

Our society wants everyone to be accepting of everyone’s lifestyle choices but that is not what we are to do. If a person is calling themselves a Christian then it is actually better to kick them out of the church for the sake of the church and for their sake. Practicing church discipline is difficult but we always discipline the people we truly love. We confront those with drug addictions not because we love to confront but because our love for them is stronger than the rejection we might face.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge? 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

What about people that are not Christians that come to the Church?

One of the things you have to be aware of is that not everyone understands the things of Christ. The Bible is clear that our confronting in the church is for those who call themselves Christians. I have several people that come to the church that are not Christians and they have made it clear that they are not. I am glad they are there and I am hoping the Word of God changes their lives and they surrender their lives to Christ.

So church discipline is for those who call themselves Christians but are living a life contrary to the Word of God.


Then they understood

The disciples did not understand the teachings of Christ right away and we need to give others the opportunity to accept the things of God. So people may be in the church that are not Christians and those who are legalist have to remember that. On the other hand, those who call themselves Christians but are living a contrary lifestyle should be called out.

Jude 22-23 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment[g] stained by the flesh.

Many of us have loved ones that just do not get it and we need to continue to pray for them but also be careful around them so that we do not get hurt by their lifestyle.  To snatch something from the fire is dangerous because you can be burned and Jude warns us that trying to save people from certain lifestyles can cause us to get hurt in the process.


Are you a legalist or a liberal?

Are you allowing sins in your life to continue that you know are wrong?

Are you twisting the Bible to fit your lifestyle or are you accepting God’s word as true and adjusting your life accordingly.

 Have you missed the signs of God or are you just ignoring them?

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