Presentation on theme: "Lenten Journey with Jesus Week 4: Tour of Caesarea Philippi."— Presentation transcript:
Lenten Journey with Jesus Week 4: Tour of Caesarea Philippi
Driving north of the Galilee you will see miles and miles of lush farmland. This is the so-called breadbasket of Israel. The temperate weather and rich alluvial soil provides the rich ground from which farmers produce great amounts of wheat, soy beans, and fruit trees. Driving north you will also notice that you are on a higher elevation. To the north is the famous snow capped Mount Hermon and even during the summer months there is snow on top of it. Mount Hermon is the source of much water for this area since the water comes from the base of the mountain and flows south throughout the valley below. When we reach Caesarea Philippi we are also at the nexus of three countries: Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.
Caeserea Philippi, also known as Banias is an ancient pagan area. There was an ancient devotion to the god Pan which was half human and half goat. Niches were built into the rock formations where miniature statues of Pan and other gods and goddess were installed. Since the area around Caesarea Philippi is quite beautiful a lot of Romans flocked to this area for religious as well as cultural reasons.
It is significant then that as Jesus traveled to this area he asked Peter an important question: “who do men say that I am?” which is also referred to at Peter’s confession of faith. This confession of faith would have been on thing if Jesus asked Peter down near the Galilee area or even in Jerusalem, but it is quite important that here, in the middle of nowhere and in a very pagan area Jesus asks Peter publicly to make a confession of faith. Now when you re-read the gospels again, especially the portion above from Mark you get a much fuller understanding and impact of the message. Peter is asked to confess Jesus right in the middle of a temple to the Roman god Pan.
Likewise when Jesus speaks about the “gates of Hell” he is not merely referring to what we think of as Hell or Hades but the large mouth of the cave at Caesarea Philippi was called “the gates of hell” and you can see a picture of that below. In other words when Jesus says to Peter that even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it he means that even “the world” will not prevail against his Kingdom.