When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not overcome it" (Matthew 1:13-18).
Caesarea Philippi is located near Dan, a paradise of beautiful ponds and lush woods at the head waters of the Jordan River. Set at the russet cliffs of Mt. Hermon, a rock-hewn cave has stood for thousands of years. Nearby are niches, which contain statues of the pagan god Pan, the god of flocks and shepherds. To the ancient people, this cave was known as "The Gates of Hades (Hell)." The large dark opening of the cave was the scene of human sacrifice where people were thrown and never seen again.
Could the disciples have thought that Jesus would build his church at the location of this rock-hewn cave? Nothing is impossible for God! Maybe a better interpretation of the Scripture is that the name Peter means "rock," and Jesus would use Peter to preach the gospel, which He did.
However, the most accepted interpretation of the Scripture is that the "rock" is the truth about who Jesus is--the Messiah, the Savior of our souls--why He came to earth, worked as a servant, suffered, died and rose from the dead for our forgiveness and eternal life.
Think About It
Jesus experienced every temptation, trial and suffering that we do, and more, but He did not sin. He is our Great High Priest who understands our predicament, loves us and wants to be in relationship with us. We can cast our cares on Him, knowing He cares for us. The world today can be quite confusing with all its religions, weird ideas and beliefs. Some things people say make sense, but we will only know the truth if we read God's word and spend time with Him in prayer. He wants to take away our confusion. He wants to be our Friend.
Pray About It
Thank you, Lord, for vivid pictures in your word that translate the truth about who you are and why you came, and why you want to be with us forever. Open our eyes to your presence with us every day. In Jesus' name, Amen.