What kind of a sign were the Pharisees and Sadducees asking Jesus for in vs. 1? I believe they were asking to see something miraculous, which would prove to them that He was the Messiah of whom the Law and Prophets prophesied. Now why did Jesus respond to this request by telling them they were hypocrites?
Well, He had been doing miraculous signs all along. The sick had been healed, the demons had been cast out, the food had been multiplied. Not only that, but He had been teaching them the true meaning of Torah with accuracy and authority. Now as we saw last week with the hand washing dispute, the teaching of Jesus differed from the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were in danger of being knocked off of their top spot as Torah experts, and from that pride came the question. This is why Jesus called them an evil and adulterous generation.
So then following His refusal to publicly identify Himself as the Messiah to the Pharisees and Sadducees, He privately asked His disciples who they thought He was. Peter answered for the group: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” (Mat 16:16).
Jesus immediately blessed him and praised him, by proclaiming to the assembled disciples that Peter was listening to God Himself, who had revealed this knowledge to him.
What is the rock that Jesus will build His church on? I believe it is not the man Peter, so as to lift up someone else to venerate, but on the rock of the revelation and knowledge that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah, who is the Son of the living God. Jesus was prophesying that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Messiah Yeshua the Son of God, not that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the man Peter, or any superstition built upon Peter rather than Jesus.
Almost immediately Peter let Jesus’ praise go to his head, and he rebuked Him when He began to explain His coming suffering, death, and resurrection. This time Jesus rebuked Peter for listening, not to God, but to Satan! How quickly pride can tune our ears into a different broadcasting signal, when we entertain it!
No one, no matter how exalted among the disciples and followers of Yeshua, is above the carefully laid trap of pride, the same sin that ensnared the Pharisees and the Sadducees! We must be constantly on guard for it, and constantly repenting of it whenever Jesus opens our eyes and reveals it to us! He is gentle and lowly in heart, not arrogant and puffed up. He did not want His fame to spread abroad, because He was not building up Himself!