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With Jesus at the Edge of Hell by Tony Dishman

08-21-2016

While on vacation, I spent some time studying the text of Matthew 16. I have always wondered exactly what Jesus meant when He answered Peter in verses 17-18, "17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it. In my studies I came across some information that really deepens my understanding of this text. Jesus and His disciples stand in the region of Caesarea Philippi. In this rocky, rugged region there are caves which lead to fresh water pools. When the Romans took over the region, they bought into the mythology that these caves were used by gods to travel underground. These gods, like Pan, Baal, and Hades, were all viewed by the Romans as potential problems. Every effort was made to keep these gods pleased and idolatry was rampant. Fact is that on this day Jesus took His disciples as close to hell on earth as one can get. As He stood with them literally at the gates of Hades He tells them that it is on that rock He will build His church. Whether Jesus intended for those words to be about Peter, Himself, or these rocks surrounding Caesarea Philippi really is not as important as the fact that no power of hell, in any shape or form, will ever overcome the power of our Lord.

--Tony

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