May 27 – Trip to the Holy Land – Caesarea Philippi

DAY 15 – CAESAREA PHILIPPI

Theme: The Church

Read Matthew 16:13-20

A visit to Caesarea Philippi helps us understand why Jesus was the Master Teacher. This city provides a magnificent view of sheer rock at the base of Mount Herman. Ancient people believed that the impressive cave in that sheer rock face was the entrance to the underworld. In their view, the cave led to hell itself.

With that impressive backdrop, Jesus asked a penetrating question, “Who do men say that I am?” Peter, who so often failed, clearly passed this test when he answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” Matthew 16:18).

Then Jesus uttered these fascinating words: “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matthew 16:18 – NLT).

What is the “rock” on which Jesus promised to build His church? Was it Peter himself?  No, otherwise Jesus would have said something like, “You are Peter, and because you are a rock, I will build my church on you.” But he didn’t say that.

Jesus used the meaning of Peter’s name as a teaching tool. Jesus didn’t promise to build His church on Peter or his name.  He promised to build His church on Peter’s great declaration that Jesus is the “Christ, the Son of the living God.”  That is the foundation on which the church of Jesus Christ rests! That is theological bedrock! If you want to be a part of God’s Church, you must accept the idea that Jesus is The Promised One, The Messiah, God Incarnate.

But there’s more… Jesus said that “The powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18b – NLT).  I wonder if Jesus looked straight into that cave, thought in His day to be the entrance of hell, when He made that bold statement.

Think about that when you are discouraged, defeated, or depressed. If you believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God,” you are part of the Church. And all the forces of Evil will not defeat the Church!

You don’t need to cower in fear. You don’t need to worry or fret. You are on the winning side. You can experience victory because Jesus, the Lord of the Church, has promised nothing less.

Prayer of reflection:  Thank you, Lord Jesus, that the Church is your idea and that you have invited me to be a part of it.

Bob Fetterhoff

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