From Galilee to Jerusalem
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Matthew 14:1 to 20:34
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
Verse 1 Herod Antipas was the ruler in Galilee. He was a son of King Herod the Great who died in 4 *BC.
The area over which King Herod the Great ruled, he left as four parts. Three of these parts went to his sons Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Herod Philip II (the second). Lysanias ruled the fourth part. We do not know much about Lysanias. They ruled these parts under the control of the *Romans. Herod Antipas ruled over the regions called Galilee and Perea. Archelaus ruled over the regions called Judea and Samaria. Philip ruled over the regions called Iturea and Trachonitis. And Lysanias ruled over the region called Abilene.
Herod Antipas was called a tetrarch, which means the ruler of a fourth part. He was not really a king but people referred to him as King Herod. He ruled from 4 *BC to 39 *AD.
Jesus spent most of his time in the region called Galilee. So, Herod had heard about Jesus and what Jesus was doing.
Verse 2 Herod told his servants that John the *Baptist had become alive again. And he thought that Jesus was John the *Baptist. This would explain the extraordinary power that Jesus had.
This was not a very reasonable idea. Jesus was already *preaching and he did *miracles before John’s death. Herod considered John to be a *prophet and he respected John. Maybe this was a guilty reaction because he had killed John.
Verse 3-5 John the *Baptist had told Herod Antipas that he should not have married Herodias. This act was against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16; Leviticus 20:21). That is why Herod had arrested John. He put John in prison. Probably the prison was in the castle called Machaerus, near the Dead Sea.
The marriages in Herod’s family were complex. Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great. Her father was Herod’s son Aristobulus. Herodias married her uncle Herod Philip I (the first) who was a half brother to Herod Antipas. Philip and Herodias had a daughter called Salome. Herodias left Philip and she married Herod Antipas. So, Herodias married another of her uncles.
Herod Antipas had already married a daughter of King Aretas. Aretas ruled over a nation called the Nabateans. The daughter of Aretas went back to her father. Aretas attacked and he defeated Herod in battle. However, the *Romans then came to Herod’s aid.
Some time later, Salome married Herod Philip II (the second). He was another son of Herod the Great. So, Salome became the aunt to her own mother.
At first, Herod wanted to kill John. He did not kill John because he was afraid of the people. The people believed that John was a *prophet. But later Herod did not want to murder John. He recognised that John was a good and holy man. He respected John and he liked to speak with him (Mark 6:20). However, Herodias did want Herod to kill John.
Verses 6-8 It was not the custom for *Jews to have a party for their birthdays. However, Herod had a party for his birthday. At such parties, there would be dances which professional dancers performed. It was unusual for a princess to dance in this way. That is what Salome the daughter of Herodias did. She danced for Herod and his guests. How she danced pleased them all (Mark 6:22).
Because Salome pleased him, Herod made a promise to her. He would give to her anything that she asked of him. His guests heard him make this promise. The girl asked her mother what she should request from Herod. She was just a girl, probably between 12 and 14 years old. At last, Herodias found a way to force Herod to kill John the *Baptist. She told Salome to ask for the head of John on a plate. Salome did what her mother wanted. She asked Herod to do it immediately.
Verses 9-11 Herod did not expect such a request. It was a shock to him and it made him sad. He did not want to kill John. He knew that John was a holy and good man. And he respected John. But he had made a promise that he could not cancel. His guests were witnesses to his promise. Therefore, he could not refuse Salome’s request. So, he ordered his men to kill John and to bring John’s head.
The men obeyed Herod. They went to the prison and they cut off John’s head. They brought the head on a plate. They gave it to the girl Salome. And she gave it to her mother Herodias.
The *Romans did kill people in this way. However, it was against the *Jewish law. Also, in *Jewish law, they had to prove first that the person was guilty. Even then, the law allowed death only for the most serious of crimes. John had done no crime and no judge had examined him. Therefore this was murder. So, John the *Baptist died. He was the last of the *prophets who belonged to the age of the *Old Testament.
Verse 12 Herod allowed John’s *disciples to take John’s body. They buried him. We do not know where John’s grave was. We do not know what happened to John’s head.
John’s *disciples had come to Jesus before, when John had sent them (Matthew 9:14; Matthew 11:2-4). They knew who Jesus was. John had spoken of Jesus as the one who would come (in other words, the *Christ – see John 1:29-31). Therefore, they went to Jesus. They told him that Herod had killed John the *Baptist.
Verses 13-14 Jesus had sent his *disciples to *preach in the towns and villages of the Galilee region. The 12 *disciples came back to Jesus. They told him all that they had done (Mark 6:30, Luke 9:10). About that time, Jesus heard of Herod’s idea that Jesus was John the *Baptist (verse 2 above). Then Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. He went to a place where no people lived. This place was near Bethsaida (Luke 9:10). Bethsaida was a town on the east of the river Jordan and about 4 miles (6 kilometres) from Capernaum. It was near to where the river Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee. This was on the north and east side of the Sea of Galilee. It was outside of the territory over which Herod Antipas ruled.
Jesus was alone with his *disciples in the boat. Jesus intended that he and his *disciples should have a quiet time away from the crowds. But the crowds went on foot and they arrived at the place before Jesus. Probably, it would have disappointed the *disciples to see that the crowds were there. But Jesus felt sorry for the crowds. He saw them as sheep without a *shepherd (Mark 6:34). So, Jesus talked to the crowds about the *kingdom of God. And he cured those people who were sick.
Verses 15-16 It was late in the afternoon, as it became evening. The word evening could mean any time between the middle of the afternoon and after sunset. They were in a desert place near to Bethsaida. The *disciples suggested to Jesus that he should send the people away. The people needed to get food to eat and somewhere to spend the night. There was nowhere near, where the people could buy food. They would have to go some distance to the small villages. And probably the small villages would not be able to supply such a large crowd. Jesus told the *disciples to feed the crowd. He did not want to send the people away hungry.
Verse 17-18 In a conversation with Philip, Jesus had tested him. Jesus asked Philip where they could buy food enough for the crowd. Even if they could find such a place, the cost of so much food would be very expensive. Philip thought that it would cost about 8 months’ wages (Mark 6:37, John 6:5-7). Jesus asked the *disciples what food they had. Andrew said that there was a boy there. The boy had 5 loaves of bread and two small fishes (John 6:8-9). The *disciples thought that it was impossible to feed the crowd with such a small amount of food. But Jesus had a different idea. He said, ‘Bring the loaves and fishes to me.’
Bread and fish were the basic foods in the Galilee region. It was a very ordinary meal. The loaves would have been quite small. Maybe the boy had brought the loaves and the fishes to sell. If the boy intended to eat them himself, 5 small loaves would be a big meal.
Verses 19-21 The crowd was much more than 5000 people. There were about 5000 men plus women and children. Jesus told the *disciples to tell the people to sit in groups, each of about 100 or 50 people. The crowd sat on the green grass (Mark 6:39). This shows that it was in the springtime.
Then Jesus took the loaves and the fishes and he thanked God for them. He broke the food and he gave it to the *disciples. The food became more as the *disciples gave it to the people. From that small meal, everybody in the crowd had more than enough food. At the end of the meal, Jesus told the *disciples to gather up what remained of the food (John 6:12). The *disciples collected 12 baskets full of the food that the people had not eaten. There was so much more at the end than at the start.
This was a great *miracle. It shows us that nothing is impossible to God. In Jesus, God can supply all that we need.
Verse 22-23 Many people in the crowds wanted to take Jesus and to make him their king. Jesus did not want that to happen. Therefore, Jesus ordered his *disciples to get into the boat. He told them to go to the other side of the lake. He stayed behind and he sent the crowds away (John 6:15). Then he went alone up into the mountain to pray. It was now late in the evening.
Jesus told the *disciples to go ahead of him to Bethsaida (Mark 6:45). Also, he told them to go to the other side of the lake. Jesus told the *disciples to go to the other side until he had sent the crowds away. Perhaps Jesus expected them to wait for a short time in Bethsaida. And, if he had not come by a certain time, to go across the lake. Then they went across the lake toward Capernaum (John 6:16-17). Later they arrived at the region called Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34, Mark 6:53). The region called Gennesaret was a plain on the north and west side of the lake.
Verses 24-27 While Jesus remained on the mountain in prayer, the *disciples went away in the boat. They had a struggle against the wind and the waves. The strong wind blew from the west against them. Between 3 o’clock and 6 o'clock in the morning, the boat was a long way from land. They had gone only about three or three and a half miles (about 5 kilometres) - John 6:19. Several of the *disciples were skilled sailors. But they had struggled since the previous evening to get this far. They must have been tired as they pulled the oars against the wind and the rough waves.
The *Romans divided the night into 4 periods. The first period was from 6 o’clock in the evening until 9 o’clock. The second period was from 9 o’clock to midnight. The third period was from midnight to 3 o’clock in the morning. And the 4th period was from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock in the morning.
In the evening light, Jesus had seen the *disciples as they struggled. Then in the 4th period of the night, Jesus came to the *disciples. That was between 3 o’clock and 6 o'clock. He walked on the water toward them. He intended to pass by them (Mark 6:48). But, they saw Jesus and they were afraid. No man could walk on water. So the *disciples thought that they had seen a spirit. They were so afraid that they cried out in fear. However, it was Jesus. Jesus proved that he was more than an ordinary man. He had power over the sea.
Jesus could see that the sight of him scared them. Immediately he encouraged them to be calm. He told them to be brave and not to be afraid. He told them that it really was him and not a spirit.
Verses 28-31 It is not possible for an ordinary man to walk on the sea. However, if Jesus did it, he could cause another man to do it. If Jesus told a person to walk on the sea then that person could do it. It would just be a matter of *faith. So, Peter asked Jesus to tell him to come on the water. Jesus told him to come. Peter got out of the boat. He stepped onto the rough waves. And the wind was very strong. Peter began to walk toward Jesus. Peter felt the strong wind. He saw the rough waves. Then he thought about what he was doing. And he became afraid. His *faith turned to fear and he began to sink.
Matthew does not say how far Peter walked on the sea. As he began to sink, he called out to Jesus for help. Immediately Jesus reached out his hand. He took hold of Peter and saved him. Peter must have walked almost to Jesus or Jesus moved very quickly to rescue him. Peter must have been a heavy weight. But Jesus lifted him up.
We would think that Peter had great *faith to get out of the boat. He must have had great *faith to walk as far as he did. What we consider great *faith, Jesus called little *faith. Peter’s attention had moved from Jesus to the storm. His *faith turned to doubt. That was the reason why he began to sink.
Verses 32-33 As Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind became calm. The *disciples had seen Jesus when he was walking on the water. They had seen the incident with Peter. Now the storm stopped. The effect of all this convinced them that Jesus is the Son of God. And they *worshipped Jesus.
Verses 34-36 Now that the wind was not against them, they quickly arrived at the region called Gennesaret. The people in Gennesaret already knew Jesus. And they spread the news that Jesus was there.
The next day, boats came from Tiberius to where the crowds were, near Bethsaida. Tiberius was a town on the west side of the lake. The crowds got into the boats and they went to Capernaum. There they searched for Jesus. They found him further to the west and south in Gennesaret (John 6:22-24).
People from across that region brought their sick people to Jesus. These sick people reached out to touch Jesus. As they touched his clothes, they became well again.
Verses 1-2 Since long before Jesus came, the *Pharisees were eager to obey all of God’s law. Therefore, they studied the law and they tried to explain it. They tried to say in detail how to obey every section of the law. In this way, they added a large number of rules to the law. These rules became their traditions. In time, many of them acted as if these traditions were even more important than the law. These traditions went beyond the purposes of the law. In addition, Jesus would show how some of these traditions actually made it impossible to obey God’s law properly.
Some *Pharisees and teachers of the law came from Jerusalem to Galilee. They had come to ask questions and to oppose Jesus. They accused the *disciples because the *disciples did not obey the traditions. The master of *disciples was responsible for what his *disciples did. Therefore, these *Pharisees were accusing Jesus rather than the *disciples. His *disciples did not obey the traditions. The *disciples did not wash their hands before they ate. This tradition was very important to the *Pharisees.
The problem was not that the *disciples’ hands were not clean. However, they had not washed in the special way that the *Pharisees did because of their tradition. In this tradition, they poured water over the hands in a particular way. The tradition even said how much water they must use.
Verses 3-6 Jesus did not answer the question about how they ought to wash their hands. He did not try to defend the *disciples against the *Pharisees. Instead, he argued that it was more important to obey God’s law than to follow the traditions. Some of these traditions even caused people to neglect God’s law. And sometimes, people were following these traditions but they were not obeying God’s rules. In this, many people were not obeying God and God considered them guilty.
Jesus reminded them of one example where their traditions could oppose God’s law. God’s law says that we must respect our father and mother (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16). Those people who speak evil things about their father or mother deserve to die (Exodus 21:17). To give honour to parents must include the provision of what they need. But the tradition said that there was a way to avoid this provision. Whatever you could give to your parent, offer it as a gift to God. Then you do not have to give anything to help your parents. So, people can follow this tradition but not obey God. Jesus said that this was completely wrong. A person must not give gifts to God and refuse to provide for his parents.
God’s law is always more important than human traditions.
Verses 7-9 Jesus did not mean that Isaiah spoke only about these *Pharisees. However, what Isaiah said was true of these men. They were *hypocrites.
The *Pharisees gave honour to God because they said the right things. However, in their hearts, many of them were not really giving honour to God. They worked hard at their religion. Some of them even made a show of their goodness. But many of them did not have real *faith in God. Such people had a religion that consisted of works. But without *faith, we cannot please God.
Isaiah had spoken about people whose *worship did not please God. He means that they *worshipped in the traditional way. To other people, it seemed to be correct. However, the *worship that God desires is in spirit and truth (John 4:23).
Again, Isaiah referred to people who taught not God’s words but their own. They were not teaching people to obey God’s law, but their own rules. It was not all the *Pharisees who were doing these wrong things. Many *Pharisees, like Nicodemus (John 3:1-21; John 19:39), sincerely desired to serve God properly. Such men listened very carefully to the things that Jesus taught. They wanted to please God in every part of their lives, so they were eager to learn from him.
Verses 10-11 While the *Pharisees were speaking to Jesus, the crowd had moved away a little. Jesus called them to come to him. What he would say next was important for them to understand. The *Pharisees thought that there was a problem. Their tradition said that a person must wash his hands in the special way. Otherwise, what he eats will make him *unclean. Jesus told the crowd that this was not so. It was a wrong idea.
What a person eats does not make him *unclean. What he eats has no effect. It does not make him a good or a bad person. However, what a person says shows his real character. It shows whether he is a good or a bad person.
Real religion has to do with the heart and not with ceremony.
Verses 12-14 Those *Pharisees were not happy with what Jesus had said. The *disciples saw their reaction. So, the *disciples came to Jesus. They told him that those *Pharisees were angry. What Jesus had said offended them. Jesus was neither surprised nor was he worried about it.
The beliefs and ideas that people teach are like plants. However, only the plants that the gardener puts in his garden should be there. Jesus compared God to a gardener who is removing the weeds from his garden. These wrong ideas were like weeds in the garden. Therefore, a gardener would remove those plants. He would pull up their roots. In the same way, there is no proper place for those wrong ideas in people’s lives.
People respected those men who taught them to follow traditions rather than the law of God. However, Jesus told the *disciples not to have anything to do with such men. Teachers like those could not direct people toward God. They could not see the truth for themselves. In addition, they led other people away from God.
Eye diseases were common at that time. There were many blind people and they often needed guides. But a guide who was blind was of no use whatever. Both the blind guide and the blind person whom he led could easily fall into a ditch. Such were the men who taught people to follow traditions instead of God’s law. They were not physically blind, but they could not see the truth. They thought that they were good guides. But they could not find the truth or lead other people to the truth.
Verses 15-20 On behalf of the *disciples, Peter asked Jesus to explain the story. The *disciples still did not understand. This seemed to surprise Jesus. So, he explained it to them.
The body takes what it needs from food. It then passes the waste. Food has no moral effect on a person’s mind or heart. This process cannot make a person bad or *unclean.
We use the word ‘heart’ to mean the centre of a person’s character, the person’s true thoughts, attitudes and desires. What a person says comes from the heart. This is what can make a person bad or *unclean. The ceremonies or traditions of religion have no effect, neither good nor bad. The heart attitude of a person makes him a good or a bad person. What a person really is affects his speech and his actions.
Evil thoughts come from the heart. And evil thoughts often lead to evil actions. Jesus gave a list of some of the evil actions that could follow evil thoughts. These include murder and wrong sex. These thoughts could cause someone to desire what belongs to another person and to steal it. These thoughts could lead to lies, and evil words.
The state of the heart is very important. That is what makes a person good or bad.
Verses 21-22 Jesus and his *disciples went into the region of Tyre and Sidon. This region was to the north of Galilee; it was not in *Israel. Tyre and Sidon were towns that belonged to a people called the Phoenicians. We do not know where in that region Jesus went. He went into a house there. He intended his visit to be private. However, he could not keep his visit secret (Mark 7:24).
A woman came to Jesus. Matthew says that she was a *Canaanite. Mark calls her a *Syrophoenician. The *Canaanites lived in the country before the *Israelites came from Egypt. This woman was a *descendant of those people. Probably she was born in this region and so by nationality she was a *Syrophoenician. However, she was not an *Israelite.
This woman called out to Jesus. She asked him to have pity on her. She called Jesus ‘*Lord’ and ‘Son of David’. She recognised Jesus as the *Christ whom God had promised to *Israel.
The reason she had come to Jesus was to ask him to cure her daughter. Her daughter was suffering very much. The woman said that the cause of the problem was a *demon. She asked Jesus to force out the *demon and to cure her daughter.
Verses 23-24 Jesus and his *disciples left the house and the woman followed them. She continued to cry out to Jesus. At first, Jesus did not answer her. To the *disciples she was a nuisance. So, they urged Jesus to send her away. They do not say that Jesus should do nothing for the woman. They could have meant that he should answer her request. Jesus’ reply shows that this is probably so.
Jesus replied to the *disciples. He told them that God had sent him to the *Israelites. His task on earth at that time was to the *Jews rather than to people of other nations. He came to the *Jews to bring them back to God. They were like sheep that had wandered away. He had not come to work outside of the nation called *Israel. Jesus cares about people from every nation. So, it could not be that Jesus did not want to help the woman. But what he said must have been a test of her *faith.
Verses 25-28 The woman fell at the feet of Jesus. She appealed to him to help her. This time Jesus spoke to her.
He spoke about a *Jewish family meal. The children gather round a table. The parents would give good food to the children to eat. Later they would throw out the food that the children had left. The dogs in the streets would eat that food. The *Jews did not usually keep dogs as pets. However, some of the more wealthy *Jews did keep dogs as pets. You cannot take food from the children to give to dogs. In effect, Jesus said that the children must eat first. After that, the dogs could feed on what the children had not eaten. At this time, Jesus was acting like someone who was still feeding the children. And the children meant the *Jews.
The woman understood what Jesus said. She accepted that it was true. She was not a *Jew. Therefore, she had no right to expect anything from the *Christ. However, when children drop bits of food on the floor, dogs can eat those bits. In this way, the dogs can eat at the same time as the children. In this answer, the woman showed how real her *faith was. She was trusting God to provide for her, even before Jesus died to save people from every nation.
Jesus remarked on her great *faith. She believed in Jesus. And in the end, she received what she had asked for. Immediately Jesus freed her daughter from the power of the *demon. Her daughter became well again at once.
Verses 29-31 Jesus and his *disciples returned to the Sea of Galilee. They went along by the Sea of Galilee to the Decapolis region (Mark 7:31). The Decapolis region was to the south and east of the Sea of Galilee. Probably Jesus came down the east side of the sea. If so, he would have avoided the Galilee region over which Herod Antipas ruled.
Jesus went up into a mountain and he sat down. The crowds that had followed him came to him. They brought with them many people who suffered in various ways. Jesus cured every person that came to him.
What Jesus had done astonished the crowd. They had heard dumb people speak. People who could not walk now walked. Blind people could now see. And Jesus had cured all the other sick people. And the crowd praised the God of *Israel. That phrase, ‘the God of *Israel’, shows that many of them were not *Jews.
Verses 32-34 The crowd had been with Jesus for three days. They had eaten any supplies that they had brought with them. Now they had nothing to eat. Jesus knew this and he had pity on them. They were in a desert place. There was nowhere to get food. However, Jesus would not send the people away hungry. The people needed to eat some food. Some of them had come a long distance.
Jesus called his *disciples to him and he explained the problem to them. But they could provide no answer to the problem. They could not find enough food to feed the crowd. Jesus asked the *disciples how many loaves and fishes they had. They had 7 loaves of bread and a few small fishes. Probably the *disciples had brought this food for their own use.
Verses 35-38 Jesus told the crowd to sit on the ground. Then he took the bread and the fishes. He thanked God for them and he broke them. Then the *disciples gave the pieces to the people. As they gave them, there was enough food to satisfy all the people. Then the *disciples gathered up the food that the people had not eaten. The *disciples filled 7 baskets with this food. So, God had provided enough food for everyone. In the end, the *disciples collected even more food than they had originally.
The crowd consisted of about 4000 men plus women and children. We do not know how many women and children were present. The total number of people who ate this food was clearly much more than 4000.
Verse 39 Jesus sent the crowd away. Then he got into a boat with his *disciples. And they went to a place near Magadan.
In Mark, they went to the Dalmanutha region (Mark 8:10). We do not know where Magadan and Dalmanutha were. However, some ancient records have Magdala instead of Magadan. And several translations of the Bible have Magdala. Magdala was south of Gennesaret on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. Dalmanutha could have been a town near Magadan where Jesus and the *disciples landed.
Verse 1 The *Pharisees and *Sadducees were the two main parties in the *Jewish religion. Also, they were the two main political parties among the *Jews. They often opposed each other. Their principal differences were about life after death and about *angels. The *Pharisees believed in both. The *Sadducees did not believe in either life after death or the activity of *angels. However, on this occasion, men from these two groups, which were usually enemies, came together to oppose Jesus.
Some men from both of these groups came to Jesus. They asked Jesus for some proof from heaven to show that God was with him. They were not sincere. They did not think that Jesus could provide any such proof. They wanted to test him. They wanted to show to the people that Jesus could not do it. They wanted to persuade the people to turn away from Jesus.
Verses 2-3 Jesus refused to give to them such proof. He told them that they could guess the weather to come. They understood what the colour of the sky meant in their country. When in the evening the sky was red, then the next day would be fine. When in the morning the sky was red and dark, it meant bad weather to come. But they could not understand what was happening in those days.
Verse 4 Jesus talks of evil and *sinful people. People had turned away from the good and right way to live. They said that they served God. But in their hearts, they had turned away from God. They asked for proofs that Jesus was from God. But they would not accept the kind of proof that they wanted.
Jonah the *prophet was in the stomach of the large fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17). Then Jonah came out of the large fish. Jesus would be in the grave for a similar period of time. He would then come out of the grave. That would be the proof that Jesus came from God. Jesus did not explain this to them (see Matthew 12:39-41).
He left them. He got into a boat with his *disciples.
Verses 5-12 Jesus and his *disciples went to the other side of the lake to Bethsaida (Mark 8:22). The *disciples realised that they had forgotten to bring any bread. They did have one loaf in the boat (Mark 8:14), but clearly that was not enough for them all.
Jesus warned his *disciples about the things that the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees taught. He called it ‘*yeast’. When a baker makes bread, he puts a little *yeast into the mixture. The *yeast spreads through the mixture and it causes the bread to rise. A little *yeast has a great effect. It was common to speak of *yeast to mean evil work. Like *yeast, the *Pharisees and *Sadducees were teaching lessons that could have a great effect in people’s hearts. But if they taught people to do and to believe the wrong things, that would be an evil effect.
The *disciples thought that Jesus was speaking about natural *yeast. They had seen how Jesus fed the crowds. Yet, they worried about food as if that were a problem to Jesus. They failed to have *faith in Christ their master. And they failed to understand what he said. People need to have *faith in order to understand properly what Jesus taught.
Jesus reminded them of the small quantities of food with which he had fed the crowds. He used 5 loaves to feed 5000 men. The pieces that they had collected filled 12 baskets. He used 7 loaves to feed 4000 men. The pieces that they had collected filled 7 baskets.
Jesus told them that he was not talking about bread. Jesus was talking about something much more important than bread. He was warning them that the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees were teaching some seriously wrong things. He was warning them about the dangerous effect that those things could have on their lives. Then the *disciples understood what Jesus meant.
The *Pharisees and the *Sadducees did not teach the same things. However, some things that each group taught were not good. The *Pharisees taught their traditions. Sometimes they behaved as if those traditions were as important or more important than the Bible. We do not know much about the *Sadducees. However, they did not believe in a life after death.
Not everything that the *Pharisees and *Sadducees taught was wrong. But their errors and their lack of belief were dangerous. Neither party could accept that Jesus came from God. For that reason, most of both the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees would not believe that Jesus was the *Christ.
Verses 13-14 Jesus and his *disciples went on to Caesarea Philippi. This town was about 25 miles (40 kilometres) north of the Sea of Galilee. It was 1150 feet (400 metres) above sea level at the base of the mountain called Hermon. Near the town, a stream came from a cave. This stream with other streams became the Jordan River. This was where people *worshipped the god Pan. Pan was a god who was half man and half goat. The name of the place had been Panium or Paneas. When Herod the Great died in 4 *BC, his son Philip became the ruler of this area. He built up the town. He called it Caesarea in honour of the *emperor (Tiberius Caesar). He added his own name and this distinguished it from the other Caesarea. That other Caesarea was on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The modern name of Caesarea Philippi is Banias.
When Jesus came to this region, he asked his *disciples a question. He wanted to know what the people thought about him. Who did they think that he, the Son of Man, was? They gave various opinions. Most people thought of Jesus as a *prophet. Some of them thought that Jesus was John the *Baptist. That is what Herod thought (Mark 6:16). Some people thought that Jesus was Elijah. Elijah had not died. He went up to heaven in a strong wind (2 Kings 2:11). They believed that Elijah would come again before the *Christ (Malachi 4:5-6). Other people thought of Jesus as one of the great *prophets of the past. Perhaps he was Jeremiah or one of the other *prophets. There was an idea that Jeremiah would come again. That idea appears in some ancient *Jewish books that are not in the Bible.
Verses 15-16 Then Jesus asked the *disciples what they thought. They had seen all that Jesus had done. They had listened to all that he had taught. They knew that Jesus was more than a *prophet.
Peter gave the answer. Probably Peter was speaking on behalf of all the 12 *disciples. He said, ‘You are the *Christ.’ This was the first time that any of the *disciples had said that to Jesus. However, they must have realised it as they followed Jesus. Andrew, Peter’s brother, considered Jesus to be the *Christ from the first time that he met Jesus (John 1:41).
Peter said that *Christ was God’s Son. This meant that Peter recognised Jesus’ special relationship with God his Father. Peter spoke of God as the living God, who lives always. Psalm 2 refers to the *Christ as the Son of God. However, we do not know whether Peter really understood this yet.
The *Jews expected God to send the *Christ. But when he came, many of them did not recognise him. Jesus was not the sort of person that they expected.
Verse 17 Peter knew that Jesus was the *Christ. This knowledge could not come by natural means. God the Father showed it to Peter. God *blessed him with this truth. ‘Nobody knows the Son except the Father. Nobody knows the Father except the Son and those people to whom the Son shows him’ (Matthew 11:27).
Jesus calls God his Father, which shows his special relationship with God. Jesus has always been the Son of God and God has always been his Father. Nobody else has that same relationship. We have God as our Father only by *faith in the *Lord Jesus.
The *disciples had begun to realise that Jesus is the *Christ. However, at that time, they did not understand what that really meant. They only really understood it after Jesus had come back from death.
Verse 18 Peter had made an important statement about Jesus. Then Jesus, the *Christ, made an important statement to Peter. Jesus had given to Simon, Jonah’s son, the name Peter (Mark 3:16; John 1:42). The name Peter comes from a word that means a rock. Jesus would build his *church on this rock.
This rock does not mean the man Peter. It is what Peter had declared about Jesus. This rock means the truth that Jesus is the *Christ. The strong base of the *church is Jesus the *Christ.
In a sense, the *church began with Peter. He was the first leader of the *church on the day of *Pentecost. Later, it seems that James, the brother of Jesus, became the leader of the *church in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 15). Peter was the first to *preach about Jesus to the *Jews (Acts 2:14-36). He was also the first to *preach about Jesus to those people who were not *Jews (Acts chapter 10).
The gates of hell cannot defeat the *church. The gates of hell mean the power of *Satan because he is the power behind hell.
Verse 19 Jesus promised to give to Peter a gift. Jesus’ words are in the future tense. Probably it refers to the time after Jesus came back from death. That gift was the keys to the *kingdom of heaven.
The *kingdom of heaven is not the *church. It means more than just the *church. The *church means God’s people. The *kingdom is where God rules. There is a relationship between the two terms, but they are not the same.
The purpose of keys is to open doors. An open door allows people to enter. Peter would open the way for people to enter the *kingdom. He did this first on behalf of the *Jews when he *preached at *Pentecost (Acts 2:14-42). Also, he was the first to *preach about Jesus to people who were not *Jews (Acts chapter 10).
Jesus gave the authority to bind or to free to Peter and to the *church (Matthew 18:18). This means that the *church must teach what to allow and what not to allow. However, those decisions must be in the purposes of God and by the *Holy Spirit. What the *church binds on earth, God has already bound in heaven. What the *church frees on earth, God has already freed in heaven. No person can bind or free things in heaven.
The purpose of keys is to open the way on behalf of people. To bind or to free has to do with other matters such as beliefs and actions.
Verse 20 Jesus did not want the *disciples at this time to tell the people that he is the *Christ. People did not understand the nature of the *Christ. Many of them thought that the *Christ would be a military and political leader. If the *disciples spoke about Jesus as the *Christ, it would have caused political problems.
Verse 21 The *disciples had started to realise that Jesus is the *Christ. So, Jesus began to tell them about his death. This is the first time that Jesus had spoken clearly about it. From this time on, Jesus taught the *disciples about what would happen. He was preparing them for that event.
Jesus told the *disciples that he must go to Jerusalem. He would go there in order to die. It was necessary that the *Christ should die (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53). The *Jews would not understand that the *Christ must die. The idea that the *Christ would die was a strange idea for the *Jews at that time. Even the *disciples could not yet accept this truth.
Before his death, Jesus would suffer many things. The leaders of *Israel would not believe that he was the *Christ. The leaders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law were the main *Jewish court. They would declare that Jesus must die. They did not have the authority to kill him. Therefore, the *Romans who ruled Judea would kill him. Jesus the *Christ would die on a wooden cross. But death was not the end. Three days later, God would raise him up to life again.
Verses 22-23 Peter’s reaction shows how little he understood. In his opinion, what Jesus had said should not happen to the *Christ. Peter took Jesus aside away from the other *disciples. He respected Jesus as his *Lord. But he had not accepted what Jesus had told them. Peter told Jesus what he thought in strong and definite terms. Such an end must not happen to Jesus. This cannot happen to the *Christ. Peter could not believe that such a death could be in God’s purpose for his Son.
Peter began to say these things but Jesus interrupted him. Jesus turned to Peter, but his first words were to *Satan, the devil. Jesus told him to get behind his back. This time what Peter said did not come from God. This idea was a thought from *Satan. With this attitude, Peter was a problem to Jesus. If Jesus were to follow Peter’s advice, it would completely ruin God’s plan to save his people. God’s purpose would fail.
Verses 24-26 Jesus had told the *disciples that he must suffer. If anyone wants to follow Jesus, he too must be willing to suffer. A person who would die on a cross as a punishment had to carry part of that cross. The person who would follow Jesus must take up his own cross. In other words, that person must not do just what he wants. But he will do what Jesus wants. He must even be willing to die because of his *faith in Jesus. This is an attitude in life that centres itself on the *Lord. The person must be willing both to live and to die for the *Lord.
Jesus contrasts life on earth and *eternal life. Those people who want to satisfy their desires in this life will lose that life in death. Those people who live for themselves will not have *eternal life. But those people who live for Jesus will have *eternal life.
The whole world is not worth the cost of a life. All that we may gain in this life will give to us no benefit after death. We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of this world. We cannot buy or earn *eternal life.
Verses 27-28 Jesus had told his *disciples that he would die. However, after his death God would raise him up to life again. And he would go to be with his Father in heaven. Jesus said that he will come again soon. He did not tell us when that will be. He will come with his Father’s *glory. Jesus will come with the *glory that he had in heaven. *Angels will come with Jesus.
When Jesus comes again, he will be the judge of all people. People will receive from Jesus what their life on earth deserved. God only saves people who accept him into their lives because of the death of Jesus. Unless God has saved a person, God’s judgement will be against that person.
Jesus said that he would come in his *kingdom. Also, some people would see it before they died. We may understand this in several ways. Here are some possible explanations:
(1) 6 days later, Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain. Then Jesus showed to them his *glory (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36).
(2) Perhaps Jesus spoke about *Pentecost. Then the *kingdom of God came with power. And the *Holy Spirit came to those people who believed. That was the first time that a large number of people became Christians (Acts chapter 2). Some of those people who were alive at that time saw the rapid spread of the *gospel.
(3) When Jesus died, he defeated *Satan. Jesus took all our *sins upon himself. And he died to free us from our *sins. Then he came back to life and many people saw him. Perhaps this was when people saw his *kingdom.
(4) Perhaps Jesus refers to his return to this world. God’s people will never really die because, after the deaths of their bodies, their spirits are alive in heaven. So they will be alive when Jesus returns in his *glory. They will always live with him.
Verses 1-8 A week later Jesus went up a high mountain to pray (Luke 9:28). We do not know where this mountain was. He took with him Peter, James and John. As Jesus prayed, they saw him change. His face shone like the sun. And his clothes shone with a bright white light. They were seeing his *glory with their own eyes.
Then they saw two men in bright white clothes. These were Moses and Elijah, and these men talked with Jesus. The three *disciples heard some of the conversation. Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about his death. They spoke about it as something that Jesus would achieve (Luke 9:31). Jesus would die soon in Jerusalem. But that death was not a defeat. That death was the purpose for which Jesus had come. Jesus would pass through death and he would rise again.
Moses was the great leader of *Israel. He led them out of Egypt. And by him, God gave the law to *Israel. Elijah was a great *prophet.
Moses and Elijah were just leaving. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here.’ He suggested that he should make three shelters. He wanted to build one shelter each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. But Peter did not know what he was saying (Luke 9:33).
As Peter spoke, a bright cloud came on them all. This could not have been an ordinary cloud. It covered them with light rather than shade. As the cloud came upon them, the *disciples were afraid (Luke 9:34). In the *Old Testament, the cloud often showed that God was present (for example, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14). Then the *disciples heard the voice of God. The sound of that voice increased their fear. And they fell to the ground. God said to them that Jesus is his Son. Jesus pleased the Father and the Father loved his Son. God told the *disciples to listen to what Jesus said.
When the cloud moved away, Moses and Elijah had gone. Jesus was alone with the three *disciples. The sight of his *glory had passed. Jesus came to them and he touched them. He told them to get up and not to be afraid.
Verse 9 Jesus told the three *disciples not to speak about this incident to anybody. They must not say anything about it until after Jesus had risen from death. Jesus knew that God would raise him to life from the grave. It must have been difficult for the *disciples to keep silent after such an experience. They kept the matter secret. However, they were curious about Jesus’ words that he would rise from death. They had not understood what that meant (Mark 9:10).
Verses 10-13 The teachers of the law said that Elijah would come before the *Christ. The *disciples did not know whether this was true. So, they asked Jesus about it. Perhaps they asked about this because they had seen Elijah on the mountain.
The *Old Testament taught that Elijah would come. He would come before the great and terrible day of the *Lord (Malachi 4:5-6). So, Jesus agrees that Elijah would come. Elijah would prepare for the *Christ as the *Old Testament says.
Jesus explained that in effect Elijah had come already. Many of the *Jews did not recognise him. Most of their leaders did not accept him as that *prophet. He suffered by what they did. Jesus said that he too would suffer in a similar manner. Then the *disciples understood that Jesus spoke about John the *Baptist. Most of the leaders did not believe what John taught. Most of the people would not believe in Jesus. Herod had killed John. And Jesus too would die because people would not accept his message. However, that was God’s plan for Jesus. Because of the death of Jesus, God can forgive our *sins.
Verses 14-16 Jesus and the three *disciples came down from the mountain. A large crowd met them. In the crowd were some teachers of the law. These men were arguing with the *disciples (Mark 9:14). Jesus asked them what the problem was. Then a man in the crowd came to Jesus with his son, his only child. The son was sick because an evil spirit took control of him. This was not a normal physical disease. The boy’s father fell down in front of Jesus. He called Jesus ‘*Lord’. And he appealed to Jesus to have pity on his son.
The father described to Jesus what the *demon did to his son. The man had appealed to the *disciples to free his son from the *demon. But they did not have that power. They were not able to send the *demon out of the boy. Jesus had given to the *disciples the power to force out *demons and to cure diseases (Matthew 10:1). It seems that they had lost the *faith to use that power. Now the man appealed to Jesus.
Verses 17-18 It disappointed Jesus to see that nobody there had the *faith to cure the boy. These people had seen what Jesus had been doing. They had heard what he had been saying. But they did not turn to God with *faith. It seems that Jesus was sad because of their lack of belief. Jesus asked himself how much more time he must be with such people. It must have been difficult for Jesus to live among people who did not have much *faith in God.
Jesus asked the boy’s father to bring him. As the boy came, the *demon attacked the boy. Jesus asked the father how long the boy had been like this. The boy had suffered like this since he was a young child. The father then asked Jesus if he could do something. ‘If you can, take pity on us. And help us.’ Jesus replied to him that with *faith all things are possible. The man said that he did believe. But he asked Jesus to help him with his lack of *faith (Mark 9:20-24).
Then Jesus ordered the *demon to go (Mark 9:25). The boy was there on the ground. He seemed as if he was dead. Some people said that he was dead. But Jesus took the boy by his hand and he lifted him up. Jesus cured the boy and he gave the boy back to his father (Mark 9:25-27). It seems that the cause of this *epilepsy was the *demon. Jesus both forced out the *demon and he cured the boy.
Verses 19-20 The *disciples asked Jesus why they could not force the *demon to come out of the boy. Jesus told them that they did not have enough *faith. A *mustard seed is very small. A little *faith in God would be sufficient to force the *demon to leave the boy. It would take a very little real *faith in God to move a mountain. There is no limit to the power of *faith in God because God is so powerful. This does not depend on how much or how little *faith we have. Even a little *faith in God can achieve great results. It does depend on God’s power.
Verse 21 Some old Bibles included verse 21 as follows. ‘However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and a time without food.’
Verses 22-23 Again, Jesus spoke to the *disciples about his death. He told them that people would kill the Son of Man. However, death could not keep hold of him. God would raise him up to life again on the third day. The idea of Jesus’ death upset the *disciples and they were very sad. They did not understand that God would raise him to life again. And they were afraid to ask Jesus about this (Mark 9:32).
Verse 24 Jesus and his *disciples went to Capernaum in Galilee. There the men who collected taxes approached Peter. They asked Peter whether his teacher should pay the *temple tax. They were polite in their request.
We do not know why they did not ask Jesus about it. Perhaps Jesus and the *disciples were in Peter’s house. The men who collected the tax spoke to Peter as the owner of that house.
The tax was two *drachmas. A *drachma was a coin that was worth about the wage of a worker for one day. All men between the ages of 20 and 50 years had to pay this tax each year. The money went to the *temple to pay for its maintenance.
Verses 25-26 Peter said that Jesus would pay this tax. When Peter came to the house, Jesus spoke first. Jesus knew what had happened. Jesus asked Peter for his opinion. Peter said that kings demand taxes from their people. No ruler taxes his own family. Therefore, Jesus agreed that they do not collect taxes from their sons.
In a special sense, Jesus was the Son of God. Therefore, he need not pay a tax for God’s *temple.
Verse 27 Jesus did not have to pay this tax but he agreed to pay it. Jesus would pay it because he did not want to offend the men.
Jesus told Peter to go to the sea and to catch fishes with a fishing line. In the mouth of the first fish, there would be a coin. This coin would be a silver coin that was worth 4 *drachmas. That was the right amount for the *temple tax on behalf of two people. Jesus told Peter to give that coin to the men who collected the tax. This would pay for both Jesus and Peter.
Verses 1-5 The *disciples came to Jesus. They had heard much about the *kingdom of heaven. They knew that Jesus would be the king. But they wanted to know about the organisation of that *kingdom. There must be several important people in the *kingdom. They wanted to know who these important persons would be. They discussed among themselves which of them would be the most important person in the *kingdom (Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46).
Jesus did not answer their question at once. He called a little child to stand among the *disciples. A little child had no rank in that society. The child was not an important person. It was just a child.
Then Jesus spoke of the necessary attitude for a person to enter the *kingdom of heaven. The child did not think that he or she was important. The child was not proud but trusted his or her parents in a humble manner. Jesus did not talk about the importance of different people in the *kingdom. But he told the *disciples that they must change their attitudes. They must become like little children. They must not be proud. They must not depend on themselves. They must be humble and they must trust in the *Lord Jesus. The person who has this attitude will be great in the *kingdom of heaven.
Whoever receives a child because of Jesus receives Jesus.
Verses 6-7 To receive a child because of Jesus would bring a great reward. However, to cause one of the *Lord’s children to *sin would be a serious matter. To cause a child to lose *faith would bring severe punishment. It would be better for the person who did that to drown at sea. If he had a heavy stone round his neck, he could not escape. Of course, God can forgive the person who does such a thing. But nobody should ever do such a thing on purpose.
‘Child’ does not just mean someone who is young in age. It could include those people who are young in their *faith. It could include those people who seem to be less important. The *disciples have a special responsibility to look after all these people very carefully.
In the same way, it will be terrible for the world. There will be a judgement for all who cause other people to *sin. It is certain that people will *sin. However, it will be terrible for those people who cause other people to *sin.
Verses 8-9 Jesus taught that *sin is serious. And that we must avoid *sin even if we must suffer for it. If any part of our body causes us to *sin, we would be better without that part. It would be better to enter heaven without it than to go to hell with it. Jesus did not intend us actually to cut off the foot or the arm. Rather, his purpose was to teach us that we must turn from *sin. *Sin ruins a person’s relationship with God.
What we see can tempt us to act or think. If that causes us to *sin then it would be better not to see. If an eye is the cause of *sin, throw it away. This would be better than to have two eyes and to go to hell. Again, Jesus did not intend us actually to do this. He spoke this way to show how serious *sin is.
The parts of our bodies do not cause *sin. *Sin comes from the heart and mind. So therefore, it is the attitude of our hearts and minds that we must change. We cannot do that by our own efforts, so we need God’s help. Because of Christ’s death, God can forgive us and change us. We must confess our *sins to him and we must invite him into our lives.
Verse 10 Jesus spoke again of the ‘little ones’. By that phrase, he was referring, especially to the young children who believed in him. The ‘little ones’ could include all who become like children in their *faith. Jesus told his *disciples that each one of these ‘little ones’ was valuable to him.
There are *angels in heaven who see the face of God. They are there on behalf of each of these ‘little ones’. Jesus said that these *angels are there with ‘my Father in heaven’. Jesus is the Son of God. The Father cares about each person who belongs to Jesus, his Son.
Verse 11 Some Bibles have verse 11. ‘The Son of Man came to save what was lost.’ To be ‘lost’ means to be missing. Or, to have wandered away, as the sheep did in verse 12.
Verse 12-14 It was normal in that country for a *shepherd to look after about 100 sheep. Each evening, the *shepherd counted the sheep to make sure that they were all there. The good *shepherd cares about each of his sheep. If one were missing, he would leave the 99 in a safe place on the hill. And he would search for the sheep that was missing. If the *shepherd found the sheep alive, he would be very happy.
He would have joy that he had found the one sheep. This would be greater joy than the knowledge that the 99 were safe.
In the same way, God does not want to lose even one of these ‘little ones’. Jesus said that God was their Father in heaven. God cares about all his children. If his ‘little ones’ are so important to God, they must be important to Jesus’ *disciples.
Verses 15-17 Jesus explains here what to do if a Christian does something wrong against you. You should go to the one that did the wrong deed. You must show him his fault. It would be a private matter for the two Christians. If the guilty person apologises, that would be the end of the matter. He should stop his wrong behaviour and he should confess it to God. However, the guilty person may refuse to listen to you. There should be another effort to convince him to apologise. You should take one or two other Christians with you to speak again with the guilty person. However, he may still refuse to listen. But these Christians would then be witnesses to the situation. They should bring it to the members of the local *church. The guilty person may even refuse to listen to the *church members. Then the members must consider that the guilty person is now outside their group. He would be to them like someone who did not believe.
Their attitude to him would be as if he collected taxes. The *Jews would have nothing to do with a person who collected taxes on behalf of the *Romans.
There is an example of such a matter in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. There, Paul shows clearly that the purpose of these actions is to encourage the guilty person to turn back to God. If he does that, then the church should allow him to return (James 5:19-20).
Verse 18 Jesus gave to the *church the authority to forbid or to allow. This meant that the *church could decide what to allow and what not to allow. The words ‘to forbid’ and ‘to free’ (in other words, ‘to allow’) are not about persons. They are about actions by Christians. However, those decisions must be in the purposes of God and by the *Holy Spirit. What the *church forbids on earth, God has already done so in heaven. What the *church allows on earth, God has already allowed in heaven. No human can forbid or allow things in heaven (see note on Matthew 16:19).
Verses 19-20 The agreement of even two Christians to pray about a matter will bring great results. There is a problem. We do not always receive the answers that we expect. We must realise that there are other rules for prayer. Prayer must be for what God wants. Prayer must be in *faith. Prayer must be in the ‘name’ of Jesus. The name means the person. To pray in Jesus’ name must be to pray for what Jesus would want. However, God is always ready to hear the prayers of his people. Prayer is successful because God the Father in heaven answers it.
Where the smallest group of Christians are together in his name, the *Lord Jesus is there. The words ‘in my name’ could mean that they use the name of Jesus in prayer. But probably it means that Jesus is the reason for them to meet.
Verses 21-22 Peter wanted to know how many times he should forgive another Christian. That Christian may do the same thing again. There must be a limit, Peter thought. Peter suggested that 7 times would be enough. Some *Jewish teachers recommended not more than three times was enough. They said that the 4th time, they would not forgive that person.
Jesus refused to put a limit on how often we should forgive. Instead of 7 times, Jesus said 70 times 7. This is not a number for us to calculate. Rather it means that there is no limit. God forgave us so much and we ought to forgive each other.
Verses 23-24 To show that we ought to forgive each other, Jesus told this story. He spoke about a king who had trusted various servants to be responsible for his money. He decided that they should give an account to him for that money. He wanted them to pay to him what they owed him. Therefore, he began to collect the money. Then his officials brought to him a servant who owed 10 000 *talents. Maybe the officials brought him because he was unwilling to come. 10 000 *talents was an enormous amount of money.
Verses 25-27 The servant could not pay that huge sum. The king ordered his officials to sell the servant as a slave. He ordered them to sell the servant’s wife and his children as slaves too. He told them to sell everything that the servant had. The king would take the money from these sales. However, that would not be enough to pay more than a very small part of the debt. Even the strongest slave was worth less than one *talent. An old or weak slave was worth hardly anything.
In the culture of that time, a wife and their children belonged to the husband. They were his possessions. And in the slave trade, they had a value. Their price was much less than the price for a strong male slave.
The servant fell down in front of his master, that is, the king. He was desperate. He appealed to his master for pity. If the master would be patient with him, he would pay the whole amount. But this was impossible. He could never obtain this amount of money.
The king was a kind and generous man. He heard the servant’s cry for pity. And the king felt sorry for the servant. So, he did much more than the servant asked. The king cancelled the debt. And he let the servant go free. It was an act of great kindness.
Verses 28-31 That servant went out from the king. He found another servant. It seems that he went out immediately to look for the other servant. This other servant owed him some money. It was 100 *denarii. A *denarius was a silver *Roman coin; the plural of *denarius is *denarii. One *denarius was the wage of an ordinary worker for one day’s work. There were 6000 *denarii in one *talent. 100 *denarii was a tiny amount if we compare it to 10 000 *talents.
The first servant's attitude was awful. He attacked the other servant and he demanded his money.
He had appealed for pity from the king. In the same way, the other servant appealed for pity from him. It would have been impossible for him to pay the king. But in time, it was quite possible for the other servant to pay him. However, the servant who had lent the money would not listen. He sent the other servant to prison. The prisoner would be in prison until he had paid the debt. He could not earn any money while in prison. Therefore, unless someone else paid on his behalf, he would never be free.
The other servants of the king saw what had happened. It made them very unhappy. So, they told the king about it.
Verses 32-34 The king was very angry. The king told the first servant that he was a wicked man. The servant ought to have done to the other servant as the king had done to him. He should have had pity on the other servant. The king sent the first servant to prison. There the officers would be cruel to him. He would suffer pain until he paid the debt. But he could never pay the 10 000 *talents. He would never get out of prison.
Verse 35 The purpose of this story was to teach that we must forgive other people. We must be willing to forgive even if they have not apologised. We must forgive from the heart. We must really mean it. God forgave us so much. He forgave us for all our *sin.
If we do not forgive other people, God will not forgive us. God cannot forgive us if we are not willing to forgive other people. If we are not willing to forgive, we have not really *repented. Then we would have to suffer because of our own *sin. But if we forgive other people, the *Lord Jesus has suffered on our behalf.
Verses 1-2 Matthew has finished his account of what Jesus did in Galilee. Jesus left Galilee and he went into Judea and beyond the Jordan river. This area across the Jordan river was called Perea. The name Perea means ‘the country beyond’. That name does not appear in the Bible. Often the *Jews went by way of Perea when they were travelling between Galilee and Jerusalem. Then they would not go through Samaria. They would cross over into Judea further south near Jericho. This seems to be what Jesus did (see Matthew 20:29).
Large crowds followed Jesus wherever he went. Many sick people came in those crowds and Jesus cured them.
Verse 3 Some *Pharisees came with a question about divorce. They did not ask it because they wanted to know. They asked it to test Jesus. Whatever Jesus said would offend some people. Maybe they could use his answer against him.
In that society, a man had the right to divorce his wife. She had no right to argue against his decision. A woman did not have the right to divorce her husband. However, in some circumstances, she could take her husband to court. The court could decide that the man must divorce her. But the divorce was always an act of the man.
The question was not whether a man could divorce his wife. It was for what reason he could do so. The man could divorce his wife if he found something bad in her (Deuteronomy 24:1). He had to write a letter to her to end the marriage. Then he would send her out of his house. The discussion was what something bad meant. The *Jews followed either one of the two famous teachers Shammai or Hillel. To the more strict teachers, it meant sex with another man. This was what the teacher Shammai taught. To other teachers, it meant anything that did not please the husband. This is what the teacher Hillel taught.
Verses 4-6 Jesus did not argue from the opinion of other teachers. A principle that the *Jews used was to follow the earliest *scripture on any subject. They thought that the earliest *scripture was the most important. So, Jesus went back to God’s original intention. God created both the man and the woman. A marriage was one man with one woman. The two of them would become a unity. By the sex act, they become as one body. In marriage, God joins the man and the woman as one. Marriage binds the husband and the wife together. Therefore, nobody should separate them. In the beginning, there was no question of divorce. Divorce would break up the unity that God had created. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).
Verses 7-8 The answer that Jesus gave did not satisfy the *Pharisees. So, they asked another question about what Moses had said. However, they did not understand what Moses said. Moses did not approve of divorces. He did not say that divorce was a proper action to take. Divorce was never part of God’s perfect design. Moses dealt with the situation at that time. He said that, in such a situation, the man must write a letter of divorce. Then he should send his wife from his house. She was then able to marry another man. After that, the first husband must not marry her again (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
Jesus replied that Moses did allow divorce. However, this was because of the wrong attitudes of the people. They did not understand the real meaning of marriage. In the circumstances, Moses tried to control the process. Without the letter of divorce, the woman would be in a much worse position. The letter had to say that the woman was free to marry.
Verse 9 The only proper reason to divorce a wife is if she has had sex with another man. If that was not the reason, the man should not marry another woman. If he does, then he would be guilty of *adultery. His second marriage would be against God’s law. Therefore, God would not accept it as a true marriage.
The principle is that marriage is for life. Therefore, a second marriage, while the first husband or wife is still alive, is not right. However, people accept it as a solution to the failure of a previous marriage.
The question was about men who divorce their wives. In most societies, a woman can divorce her husband. Therefore, the same principles should now be for women as well.
We must not forget that God can forgive all our evil deeds. A person who remarries after a divorce still has a duty to serve God. Like everyone else, that person must *repent and choose to follow Christ. Other church members must accept that person, and they must not be cruel to him (2 Corinthians 2:7-8).
Verses 10-12 How Jesus answered the *Pharisees surprised the *disciples. Marriage was a more serious matter than they had thought. They had not realised that marriage was for life. In God’s law there was no way out of a marriage. If the marriage failed that was no reason for a divorce. The wife’s wrong acts did not give the husband a proper reason to divorce her. Perhaps it was best never to marry, and so to avoid all such troubles.
We cannot be sure that the reaction of the *disciples was serious. It could have been just a remark.
However, Jesus replied to the *disciples. What they said could be true for some people. It would be better not to marry than to have a divorce. Some people consider that they cannot marry for life. Some men are not capable of marriage. What other men have done can make a man not able to marry. Some people decide not to marry because they want to give their lives to the *kingdom of God. These people consider that they could not support a husband or a wife in addition to their work for God (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).
The best decision in anyone’s life is to put the *kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33).
Verses 13-15 Often in those days, people brought their children to a famous teacher. The teacher would put his hands on the children and he would bless them. The people recognised that Jesus was such a teacher. Therefore, they brought their children to him. They wanted Jesus to put his hands on the children and to pray for them.
The *disciples tried to stop these people. Maybe the *disciples thought that Jesus was too busy or too tired. Maybe they thought that children were not important. But to Jesus the children were very important. He loved the children. He wanted them to come to him. Jesus told the *disciples not to stop them.
Children are humble and they have simple trust. The *kingdom of heaven belongs to people who in these ways are like children (see Matthew 18:1-5).
Verses 16-22 A wealthy young man ran up to Jesus. He was a ruler (Luke 18:18). We do not know what he ruled. He could have been an official in the government or in a *synagogue. But he was probably too young to be a *synagogue ruler. This young man fell down in front of Jesus (Mark 10:17).
The man called Jesus 'good teacher' (Luke 18:18). Jesus replied that nobody was good except God. Jesus did not say that he was not good. In effect, the young man gave to Jesus a name that belonged to God. The young man would not have thought about it. But in effect, Jesus accepts that he is God.
The man asked Jesus what he must do to have *eternal life. He thought that somehow he could earn *eternal life. Jesus told him that nobody is good except God. Therefore, nobody can achieve *eternal life because nobody is good enough.
The way to enter life is to obey God’s commands. To achieve *eternal life by this method, a person must be perfect. However, nobody is good enough to achieve *eternal life by their own efforts. The only way is to trust God to forgive us.
The young man asked, ‘Which commands?’ Jesus answered the question about what the man should do. He mentioned 5 of the 10 commands (Exodus chapter 20, Deuteronomy chapter 5). These 5 commands speak about our duty to other people. Jesus adds, ‘You must love your neighbour as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18). The young man thought that he had obeyed all these commands from childhood. But he knew that something was missing in his life still.
The young ruler thought that he had obeyed the commands of God. But he was wealthy and his wealth had become his god. He trusted in his wealth rather than in God. The first command is that we must *worship the one real God. So, Jesus told him to sell all that he had. He should give the money to poor people. Then he would have no wealth on earth but he would be rich in heaven. And he should follow Jesus.
The young man did not want to give away his money in order to serve God. So, he went away very sad because he was very wealthy.
This action was special to that man. It is not a general rule for all people. The principle for everyone is that nothing should take the place of God in our lives. We cannot trust in wealth or anything else.
Verses 23-24 The rich young man had gone away. His wealth meant so much to him. Jesus told the *disciples that it would be hard for rich people to enter the *kingdom of heaven. They have sufficient for all that they need for this life. And what they have is so important to them. So often, they trust in what they have, instead of in God. It is very difficult for them to realise that they do need God.
It would be impossible for a camel to go through the *eye of a needle. Jesus gives to us a humorous example. The *Jews understood what this meant. It meant something that was impossible. Imagine how difficult it would be for a large animal to get through a small hole. Such a thing is not possible. In the same way, it is impossible for a rich person to get himself into heaven. However, what is impossible for people is possible with God.
Verses 25-26 What Jesus said was a surprise to the *disciples. People thought that it was good to be rich. Therefore, most *Jews expected the rich people to receive *eternal life. It was not that their wealth could buy their way into heaven. But their wealth showed that God had *blessed them. Therefore, if it is so difficult for rich people, it must be worse for other people. If they cannot achieve *eternal life, then nobody else can.
The *disciples had understood Jesus’ words correctly. Nobody can achieve *eternal life. Jesus looked at them as he answered them. With God, all things are possible. *Eternal life for rich people and for poor people is by the kindness of God. *Eternal life is a gift from God that no person can earn. We can receive this gift when we ask God to forgive our *sins. And he does so because Jesus has died on our behalf. So, we must turn from our *sins and we must invite Jesus into our lives.
Verses 27-30 A person can gain *eternal life and he can enter heaven only by God’s power. The *disciples needed to be sure that they would have *eternal life. Peter said, ‘We have left everything and we have followed you.’ There must be some reward because of that.
In his reply, Jesus spoke about the future age. Then he will sit on his *throne as the king of *glory. At that time, the 12 *disciples will have an important function. In that *kingdom, they will sit on 12 *thrones as judges of the *tribes of *Israel. We cannot be sure what this means. In the *Old Testament, a judge could be a ruler or a leader. However, the *disciples who had followed Jesus will be with him in his *kingdom.
Jesus showed that God would not be in debt to anyone. If a person gives up anything on behalf of the *kingdom of heaven, God will give to them more. He will give to them more both in this life and in the life to come (that is, in the future, beyond death). Jesus does not mean that God will make them wealthy in this life. It cannot mean that God will give to them 100 fathers or mothers. But God will *bless them in a way that he chooses. However, we do not give things up because we expect a reward. We do this because of what God has already done for us. We live to please him. Then we know that we will receive *eternal life.
God does not think in the same way that people do. Those people whom we consider important, God may not accept as such. Those people whom we consider of little worth, God may accept as very important. So, many who seem to us to be first in this life will be last. And many who seem to us to be last in this life will be first.
Verses 1-16 When the *grapes were ripe, the *vineyard owner would employ extra workers to pick the *grapes. Men who wanted work would go each morning to the market place. Early in the morning, employers went to the market place and they selected workers for that day. They would agree the wages for the day.
In this story, the *vineyard owner hired some men. He agreed to pay them one *denarius for the day’s work. A *denarius was the normal pay for a day’s work. Then the employer sent the men into his *vineyard.
The harvest was plentiful and the time to pick the *grapes was short. Therefore, the owner decided that he needed more workers. So, he went to the market place several times in the day. He went at 9 o’clock, at noon and again at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Each time he sent more workers into his *vineyard. They did not agree the wage. The owner promised to pay proper wages to each of the workers.
At about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, the owner went to the market place again. The workers would finish at 6 o’clock, when evening began. In the market place the owner found men who were still standing there. He asked them why they were still there. The reason was that nobody had hired them. So, the owner sent them into his *vineyard for the last hour of the day. Again, there was no agreement about their pay.
At the end of the day, the workers came for their pay. The owner told his manager to pay each man a *denarius. He told the manager to pay the last ones first and the first ones last.
The men who had worked one hour must have been happy. They had received a full day’s pay for just one hour’s work. The other men who had not worked all day must have been happy as well. The workers and their families depended on what they could earn. Perhaps the owner was a kind man. He knew that these were poor people. He realised that they needed the money. Probably, he also wanted to be generous because the harvest was so plentiful.
However, those workers who had worked all day expected more money. They forgot that they had agreed the wage. They complained that it was not fair. Those men who worked one hour had received the same pay.
The owner answered one of these men. He had paid the wage that they agreed that morning. It was a fair wage. It was his money. And he could do what he wanted with it. He had chosen to be generous. He chose to pay the other men the same amount.
The *kingdom of heaven is like the owner in the story. The story shows that God is like that. He does not pay us what we deserve. We deserve nothing from him. He does not give to us what we consider to be fair. He does not reward us because of our rank or importance, or whether we are first or last. All who belong to God are his people. God is generous to all his people.
This story shows that we can never deserve a place in God’s *kingdom. We receive it because of God’s love. There is a place in God’s *kingdom for all God’s people. Even the least important has a place there. Some people serve God for their whole lives. Other people only begin to serve God a short time before their death. They are all God’s servants and they all will receive his reward.
Verses 17-19 There were crowds of people who were going up to Jerusalem for the *Passover. Many followed Jesus. But on the way Jesus talked in private with the 12 *disciples. He told them that he would die in Jerusalem. Someone would hand him over to the *Jewish leaders. (The person who would do that was Judas, one of the 12 *disciples.) The *Jewish leaders would decide that Jesus should die. However, they did not have the authority to kill him. Therefore, they would hand him over to foreigners for this purpose. Those foreigners would be the *Romans. They would make fun of him and they would insult him. They would beat him with whips and they would *crucify him. The *Romans used this form of death to punish slaves and criminals.
Jesus had no doubt about what would happen to him in Jerusalem. By his death, he would achieve what he came to earth to do. He would die but death would not be the end. Death would not be able to hold on to Jesus; in other words, Jesus would overcome the power of death. On the third day after his death, God would raise Jesus to life again.
Jesus had spoken of his death several times before. But the *disciples still did not understand about his death. They could not understand that Jesus would come back to life again.
Verses 20-21 Zebedee’s wife came to Jesus with her two sons. Probably she was Salome. Salome was one of the women at the cross when Jesus died (Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56). The sons were the *disciples James and John. She wanted to ask Jesus something on behalf of her sons. She fell down in front of Jesus. Jesus asked her what she wanted. In Mark’s *Gospel, it was James and John who made the request (Mark 10:35). However, here the mother made the request. So, clearly, the request came from all three of them.
The mother wanted her two sons to sit with Jesus in his *kingdom. She wanted them to have the most important places, one on each side of the king. Maybe the *disciples expected Jesus to set up his *kingdom in Jerusalem at once. They did not understand yet what Jesus had told them about his death. However, Jesus had told them that his *kingdom would be in the future age. Then he will sit on his *throne. Also, the *disciples will sit on *thrones (Matthew 19:28).
Verses 22-23 Jesus answered the three of them. They did not understand what they asked. They had no idea of the kind of *kingdom that Jesus spoke about. They had not understood about the nature of God’s government.
Jesus spoke of his death as a cup that he would drink. Soon Jesus would suffer and he would die a very terrible death. He asked the two *disciples if they could drink that cup. They replied that they could. They did not understand what they said. In the garden called Gethsemane, they ran away (Matthew 26:56). But Jesus said that they would drink from that cup. And both of them did suffer on behalf of the *Lord. King Herod killed James (Acts 12:1-2). And the *Romans sent John to the island called Patmos because he *preached about Jesus (Revelation 1:9). We do not know the manner of his death.
As for the chief places in the *kingdom, Jesus could not say who would have them. God the Father had reserved those places for those persons whom he had chosen.
Verses 24-28 The other 10 *disciples were angry with James and John. This was a natural reaction. Probably other *disciples among the 10 wanted the top places as well. The attitude of all the *disciples was wrong.
In this world, rulers have power over their people. Great men have authority that they use to control other people. Important people consider themselves superior to other people. However, in the *kingdom of God, it is not like that.
Jesus told the *disciples that their attitude must not be like that of the world. They must not try to be the boss. They should desire to serve the other *disciples. Those *disciples who want to be great should be the least. The leader among them will be the servant of them all. There has to be leaders but their attitude should be humble.
Jesus was the *Lord. He was their master. Yet, he came to serve and to give his life on behalf of his people. He came to rescue us from *sin.
Verses 29-34 On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus and his *disciples crossed the river Jordan. And they passed through Jericho town. Jericho was about 15 miles (25 kilometres) or two days’ journey from Jerusalem. As they were leaving Jericho, two blind men were sitting by the road.
There was one blind man by the road as Jesus approached Jericho. That blind man heard the noise of the crowd that followed Jesus. He learned from the people that Jesus from Nazareth was there. He cried out to Jesus. Then Jesus asked the man what he wanted. The man had asked for pity. Then he replied to Jesus that he wanted to see. He believed that Jesus could cure his sight. Jesus cured him (Luke 18:35-43).
Jesus and the large crowd with him were leaving Jericho. There was a blind man whose name was Bartimaeus. He sat by the road. He heard that Jesus was passing. He cried out to Jesus in the same way that the other blind man had done. Bartimaeus asked Jesus to cure his sight. Bartimaeus believed that Jesus could do it. And Jesus cured him (Mark 10:46-52).
It seems that the accounts from Matthew and Mark are the same. If so maybe Bartimaeus had a companion. But Bartimaeus was the one who first cried out to Jesus. So, Mark does not mention the other blind man. The account in Luke seems to be different, because Jesus had not yet arrived in Jericho.
These two blind men heard that Jesus was passing by. They must have heard how Jesus had cured many people. They cried out, ‘*Lord, Son of David, pity us.’ The Son of David was another name for the *Christ that God had promised to send. So, probably, these blind men recognised that Jesus was the *Christ. Jesus did not refuse the name Son of David. In effect, he agreed that he was the *Christ.
The crowd told the two blind men to be quiet. But they cried out even louder. Jesus stopped. He asked the two men what they wanted. They asked Jesus to open their eyes so that they could see. Jesus touched their eyes and they could see. They joined the crowd and they followed Jesus. Maybe as they followed Jesus they too became his *disciples.
AD ~ years after *Christ.
adultery ~ when a person has sex with someone who is not that person’s husband or wife.
ancestors ~ people in history from whom your family has come.
angel ~ a servant of God from heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages. So, angels are God’s servants from heaven. But there are evil angels who opposed God. These evil angels now serve the devil.
Baptist ~ the title that we use for John, whom God sent to prepare people for the *Christ’s arrival.
BC ~ years before *Christ
blasphemy ~ to speak against God; an insult against God.
bless ~ to show special kindness.
Canaanite ~ someone from the country called Canaan; someone who was not an *Israelite.
Christ ~ The Christ is the name for the person whom God would send to save his people. The word ‘Christ’ means that the person has received an anointing. The anointing was a special ceremony that appointed someone to carry out a special work for God. Jesus is the Christ and he was called Christ. God sent Jesus to save his people from their *sins (Matthew 1:21).
church ~ a group of Christians who meet together. The word ‘church’ does not just refer to the building where they meet. The word ‘church’ can also mean all the Christians in the world.
crucify ~ a *Roman method to kill as a punishment. The *Roman soldiers would nail the person to a cross of wood.
demons ~ evil *angels that serve the devil.
denarius ~ a *Roman coin that was worth about the wage of a worker for one day. The plural is denarii.
descendant ~ a future member of a family or nation.
disciple ~ a person who follows a leader, especially the 12 men that Jesus chose to be with him.
drachma ~ a coin that was worth about the wage of a worker for one day. It was about the same value as a *denarius.
emperor ~ like a king. The *Romans called their ruler an *emperor.
epilepsy ~ an illness that causes a person suddenly to lose control over his own body.
eternal ~ continuous and with no end.
eternal life ~ It is a new quality of life now for those people who truly believe in Jesus. And it continues in heaven, after our body dies. This eternal life will never end.
eye of a needle ~ the hole in a needle.
faith ~ trust in someone or something; belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son.
feast ~ a time to eat and drink. The special times of *Jewish ceremonies are feasts.
glory ~ great honour and beauty.
Gospel ~ one of the first 4 books in the New Testament. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
gospel ~ the good news that God saves people from *sin because of Jesus Christ.
grapes ~ the fruit of a plant called a vine. People make wine from the fruit.
Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit whom Jesus sent to help his people. The Holy Spirit is another name for God, also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the Comforter. The Holy Spirit is a person but not human. He carries out God’s work on earth. He is God, equal with God the Father and with God the Son.
hypocrite ~ someone who pretends to do good deeds in order to give a false impression.
idol ~ the image of a false god.
Israel ~ the country of the *Jews.
Israelites ~ *Jewish people.
Jewish ~ people or things that are from the *Jews.
Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their *descendants.
kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules. In the *New Testament, we often read about God’s kingdom. This nearly always means the people over whom God rules, and not a territory on earth.
Lord ~ a title for God, or Jesus, to show that he is over all people and things. In the *Old Testament, LORD was a special name for God. The word ‘lord’ can also mean a master or a ruler.
miracle ~ a powerful deed that does not happen by natural means. Often, miracles seem impossible to explain. Miracles show God’s power.
mustard ~ a type of *spice that people grew in their gardens. Its seed is small, but it grows into a large bush.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on earth.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.
Passover ~ annual ceremony (*feast) to remember God’s rescue of the *Jews from Egypt.
Pentecost ~ annual ceremony (*feast) when the *Jews thank God for the harvest.
Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews who tried to keep all God’s rules. They thought that by this they could please God.
preach ~ to speak God’s message in public, and to teach his word.
prophet ~ a person who speaks for God. A prophet can sometimes say what will happen in the future.
repent ~ to change one’s mind and heart. People who repent must turn their minds and hearts away from *sin. They ask God to help them so that they can now serve him.
resurrection ~ life after death.
Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the most important rulers at the time of the *New Testament. Anything that belonged to Rome was called Roman. The people from Rome were called the Romans.
Sadducee ~ one of a group of *Jews who did not believe in heaven or in *resurrection. They were an important group of *Jews at the time of Jesus, and they included the most important priests. They only used the five books at the beginning of the *Old Testament. They believed that people would not live again after death.
salvation ~ a right relationship with God. The only way for anyone to receive that right relationship is when God forgives that person’s *sins. And that is only possible because Jesus died for us. We must confess our *sins to God and we must invite him into our lives.
Satan ~ the name of the devil.
Scriptures ~ the books of the Bible. Where Jesus talks about the Scriptures, he means the books of the *Old Testament.
shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.
sin ~ Sin is the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God.
sinful ~ a person who *sins is sinful.
spice ~ a sweet substance or a substance with a strong smell.
synagogue ~ a building where *Jews gather for prayer; a meeting place for *Jews.
Syrophoenician ~ a person from the country called Syrophoenicia, which was to the north of Israel.
talent ~ a sum of money equal to 6000 *denarii.
temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God. The *Jews had a temple in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God. But at other temples, people *worshipped false gods.
tetrarch ~ the ruler of a fourth part; the title of the four men who ruled after King Herod the Great.
throne ~ the special chair for the king or for an important person.
tribe ~ a large family of people who have a common *ancestor. The nation called *Israel grew from the 12 sons of Jacob. Their 12 families became the 12 tribes of *Israel.
unclean ~ unable to join in public acts of *worship.
vineyard ~ a place where *grapes grow.
worship ~ the act when someone shows honour to God (or to an *idol). When a person worships, that person praises God. That person thanks God. And that person respects God.
yeast ~ a substance that makes bread rise before someone bakes it.
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary
Leon Morris ~ The Gospel according to Matthew ~ The Pillar New Testament Commentary
D.A.Carson ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
R.T.France ~ Matthew ~ The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries
Bibles: NIV, ASV, CEV, TEV, GW, ISV, KJV, LITV, MKJV, RV
A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek New Testament
© 2015, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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