On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. – Matthew 16:18
There are several ideas about this rock that Jesus said he would build his church upon. Most evangelical Christians believe that the rock of which Jesus was speaking was the rock of truth that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. Others believe that the rock Jesus was referring to was Peter, whose name means “rock.” There is another view that I would like to share.
We should note the place where Jesus and the disciples were when he made this declaration. He was in Caesarea Philippi an area about 25 miles north of the lake of Galilee.
The first thing we should notice about this place is that there weren’t even enough Jews in that area to have a synagogue. Next, there is no record of Jesus actually entering the city, he was just in the area near the city. He did no works there and did no teaching among the local people. So, why was he there?
A common name for the region was Panion and was named after the Greek god Pan. Pan is the god who was half horse and half man. The region was known as a center of idolatrous worship. The city was founded on or near a cliff like stone wall and worshippers were known to carve out niches in the stone face of the wall and put articles of worship in them. Many pagan gods were worshipped in this area.
With that in mind we may be able to see the purpose of Jesus making this historic statement at this place. Perhaps he was standing on the top of this rock which was the home of many pagan gods. It seems he was standing at the very gates of hell itself declaring, “Indeed! I am the Christ, the son of God and I have come to build my church right here, on this rock, at the very gates of hell.”
We have seen his church being built at the gates of hell. At the places where demonic power is most prevalent the power of God is released most effectively and the prison gates of sin cannot stand against the forward progress of the kingdom of God.
Prayer: Lord, grant me the courage to stand against the powers of darkness and declare the freedom that is in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Principle: At the places where demonic power is most prevalent the power of God is released most effectively and the prison gates of sin cannot stand against the forward progress of the kingdom of God.
Affirmation: I have broken free of the prison of sin because the gates of that prison could not stand against God of my salvation.
Reflection: This devotion presents three views of the “rock” Jesus referred to that he would build his church upon. How do you view that rock? Was it the truth of the Christ? Was it Peter as a founder of the church? Was it the actual rock of the enemy’s camp that his Church would invade and build upon? Or, is there an application of all three views?