Saturday, September 10, 2005

Caesarea Philippi and the Rock

Caesarea Philippi is the location where Jesus’ identity as the Messiah was revealed to the disciples. Caesarea Philippi was a two-day walk into pagan territory so it is odd that Jesus would take his disciples there. By Caesarea Philippi there is a huge rock with a cave that is the source of the Jordan River. The pagans believed that the cave with the water flowing out from under the ground was a gate to hades, the gates of hell.

At this rock, pagans would worship the pagan god Pan. Here is a picture of a couple of niches that probably held a statue of Pan. Pan was the pagan god of shepherds and flocks.

On top of the rock there was a temple for the worship of Caesar (see Josephus Ant. 15).

This backdrop is very significant in relation to what Jesus says in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus established Peter as the true shepard of his true flock in opposition to Pan the false god of shepherds and flocks. And the true divine king, Christ, is going to build his Church on Peter, the Rock, in opposition to the false god Caesar and his false church on the rock. And the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church that Christ established.

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