Duration: 365 days
The Pharisees and Sadducees normally oppose each other. But they share a common enemy in Jesus. Jesus denounces them for their “teaching” that demands manipulative signs and for their unbelief in spite of all that he is showing about who God is. Jesus warns his disciples about this dangerous perspective. It can creep into their thinking like yeast in dough.
Jesus asks his disciples who the people think he is. Then Jesus gets direct: He asks his friends who they think he is. Peter names Jesus as the Messiah—not just God’s mouthpiece, but God’s appointed Savior. Jesus is delighted; someone recognizes him for who he is. He wants them to keep his identity a secret, though. He isn’t the kind of Messiah his fellow Jews are expecting.
Jesus explains that he is going to have to die. The disciples don’t understand, and Peter tries to talk him out of it—not knowing that his own salvation depends on it. Jesus rebukes Peter; he is speaking what Satan would speak. Jesus must do what God has sent him to do.
Jesus takes his three closest disciples up on a mountain and allows his glory to shine through. Peter, James and John are terrified. Jesus comforts them—he doesn’t want his friends to be afraid.
Jesus continues describing what it looks like to live the kingdom life on earth. Simple, childlike believers who trust in him are the greatest in this kingdom. God loves each of his followers and will go to the ends of the earth to rescue just one. God’s kingdom is one of boundless forgiveness, but citizenship in the kingdom is given, not earned.
The King’s Heart
It wasn’t just a lesson in paying taxes. Jesus could have simply handed Peter the coin, and Peter would have known that God wants us to honor the government by paying taxes. But Jesus had more to show his friend.
At Jesus’ instructions, Peter went down to the lake. Perhaps he shook his head at Jesus’ ludicrous assignment, but he obeyed. He pushed out his fishing boat, casted out his net. Peter must have laughed in astonishment as the first fish he pulled from his catch had a coin in its mouth. What a playful way for Jesus to teach Peter that he is the Fish Director and Coin Creator. Peter surely never forgot it. And it is certainly one of the most interesting fishing tales ever told around a campfire.
Jesus seems to indicate that children have guardian angels. Jesus says that these angels “always see the face of my Father in heaven”—they have constant access to God.
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