Southern Baptist Convention

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:13-18).

Caesarea Philippi was not an area where those searching for Him would have necessarily expected to have found Jesus. It was located more than 100 miles outside of Jerusalem and about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. The city was nestled at the foot of the southern slope of Mount Hermon which, with its snowcapped peak towering 9,000 feet above sea level, was the highest mountain in Israel. It was on this mountain peak that many believe that the transfiguration of Christ took place (17:1-7). Caesarea Philippi was not a stronghold of religious Jews; in fact it was the location of the famous worship center of the Greek god Pan.

It was here, in the midst of large numbers of idol worshipers, that Jesus asked His disciples two very important questions. Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? and But whom say ye that I am? As Jesus' ministry had grown so had His reputation, therefore it was no surprise that the disciples provided a variety of answers to the first question. Yet when the second one was asked, without hesitation, Peter replied: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Even though he was surrounded by those who refused to acknowledge the living God, Peter did not worry about where he was or who was listening before he gave his answer. Jesus then went on to say thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This powerful and moving statement was delivered very near to what was considered, by the pagan followers of Pan, to be the gate to Hades (the Greek god underworld). By delivering this message in this place, Jesus was making it clear to His disciples that His ultimate purpose was to defeat evil itself.

Today's Church (the universal body of Christ referenced in 16:18) has in many ways shrunk back from this initial charge from Jesus. Instead of joining together and presenting a powerful, unified front that rails against the gates of hell, we have turned inward and become more concerned with our image and reputation. In our quest to be all things for all people, we have forgotten that our first responsibility is to the work of our Lord and Savior. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (16:26)? First and foremost we are servants of God, and, as such, it is our sworn duty to stand with Him against the evil influences of Satan.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:11-12).

Thought for Today:

And He is the Head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence (Col. 1:18).

Christ Revealed:

For Matt. 15:4: See Ex. 20:12; 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 5:16. Matt. 15:8-9: See Is. 29:13. Matt. 16:27: See Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12.

Word Studies:

16:6 leaven = false teaching; 16:18 gates of hell = the powers of Satan; 17:25 prevented him = anticipated what Peter would say and spoke before Peter could.

Prayer Needs:

Staff: Chris Robison • Government Official: Rep. Bill Foster (IL) • Country: Cuba (11,047,251) Caribbean • Major Language: English • Restricted Religious Freedom • 85% Roman Catholic; 15% Other • Prayer Suggestion: Pray and praise God with a spirit of thankfulness for His goodness (Ps. 107:1,21).

Memory Verse:

John 15:1-5
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Devotion courtesy Bible Pathway Ministries