See this map…
Jesus is on the move and next it’s Caesarea Philippi. But, don’t get confused. There are two of them. One is south and west of the Sea of Galilee and one is north and east of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is headed north. It’s time to preach the Gospel to that district. Remember, He’s on a mission to seek and save that which is lost.
Caesarea Philippi was a center of pagan worship of Baal and the Greek god Pan. It was a Roman city with mostly Syrian and Greek (Gentile) populations.
But, before Jesus begins His teaching there, He’s got to get something straight in the minds of His disciples. He’s performed enough miracles among the Jews and Gentiles that they’ve had time to form an opinion of who He is. So, He asks the question: “Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?”
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Some of the people thought Jesus was John the Baptist, who was recently killed by King Herod, who had somehow been brought back to life. Others thought Jesus was the prophet Elijah or Jeremiah, brought back to life.
But, Jesus wanted to know who they (the Disciples) thought He was…
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Peter always seemed to be the first to answer. He was likely the oldest (he was married…most scholars believe the other disciples were late-teens, under the age of 20), thus Peter was the natural spokesman for the group. Peter nailed it on this one. He got it right. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Jesus acknowledged to Peter and the group that he (Peter) got it right. Jesus was and is the Son of God. And then comes a statement that has been misinterpreted by millions of people (namely Roman Catholics) through the centuries.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Roman Catholics use this verse to say that Peter was the first Pope (God’s ultimate “human” authority on earth). Yet, that is not what Jesus was saying. A clear reading of the passages indicates as much. Jesus was simply saying:
“Peter, you got it right. I am the Son of the Living God and it’s on this fact (not Peter), that I’m going to build my church.” Jesus wasn’t saying that He was going to build the church on Peter. That’s nuts! That’s building Christianity on a man. That’s the exact opposite of what Jesus was saying. The church is built on the fact that Jesus is the head…not a man…and not Peter.
The word “church” is the word ecclesia. It means “the gathering.” Jesus is saying that gathering of the people is going to be because of Him (Jesus) and the Church will have power to storm the gates of Hell.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
It’s the “Church” that has the power to discipline (Matthew 18:15-17). It’s the Church (His Bride) that Jesus died for on the cross of Calvary. Friends, please be careful when building your theology. If you misread Scripture, you can get into big-time trouble and that’s what has happened in the Roman Catholic church for centuries.
But, Jesus says something strange to His disciples after acknowledging Peter’s confession of the truth of who He is…
20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Why would Jesus do that? Why would He tell them not to say anything to anyone yet? Peter got it right. Jesus told the disciples that Peter got it right. Why not tell the world?
Simple. It wasn’t time. In this region of pagan thinking and Baal worship, Jesus knew the people wouldn’t get it and He said, “Hold off for now. Let me do some more work and more teaching.”
Timing is everything with the Lord. He’s the Alpha and the Omega (the Beginning and the End) and He’s not concerned with time. But, timing…oh yes…timing is everything with Jesus. So, trust Him for His timing and trust Him with the knowledge that He truly is the Son of the Living God, because that’s exactly who He is!
Who do you say that Jesus is?
If He is indeed the Son of the Living God, then He’s worthy of our lives in dedicated devotion and commitment. Let’s live for Him today, because we are so blessed to truly know Him!