Our text for this sermon comes from Matthew 16:13-18 and Luke 14:25-33.
The title for this sermon is titled: Real Disciples Love Their Church.
vs. 13 Between verses 12 and 13, Jesus travels a distance of about 32 miles to Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi is in the Golan Heights region of Israel. This area was established by Greeks where the worship of the god Pan was centered. In the early first century, Herod Philip named Caesarea Philippi in honor of Caesar Augustus.
The city has for its backdrop, a large cliff which is referred to as the Rock of the gods. Against the cliff, shrines were built. These shrines were built in the image of and dedicated to Caesar and the god Pan. In the center of the Rock of the gods, is a cave that has a stream that flows out of the rock from underneath the cave. This cave is called the “gates of Hades” because it is believed that the god Baal would come and go from the underworld through the entrance in this cave.
Legends from both ancient Greece and Rome record stories of mortals who entered or were abducted into the netherworld through such gates. The god Hades kidnapped the goddess Persephone from a field in Sicily and led her to the underworld through a cleft in the earth so he could marry her.
Pic from Flickr by antman79
In the first century Israel, Caesarea Philippi would be the equivalent to Las Vegas but much worse. The saying, What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas could easily be the catch phrase for Caesarea Philippi. In the shrine of Pan next to the mouth of the cave is a large niche where a statue of Pan stands.
Pan by mythological stories is characterized as being half man, half goat. Goats were worshiped because of their relationship to Pan. On the shrine, in front of this statue, the Pan worshipers would engage in the most bizarre and wicked sexual acts, including having sex with goats.
That is the city that Jesus takes his disciples to when he asks them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
vs. 14-18 Jesus gets a wide range of answers from his disciples. Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah….
Then Jesus asks the question that every person that God has ever created will have to answer. “Who do you say that I am?”
You can call Jesus what you want: teacher, good prophet, but there is only one right answer.
Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Catholic tradition holds to the belief that Jesus is telling Peter that the church is going to be founded on him. I believe that Jesus is going deeper than that.
The rock that the church will be founded on is greater and more significant than the Rock of the gods that they may be standing in front of. The rock that the church is founded on is the statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
If Jesus is not the Christ, if Jesus is not everything he said he was, then he is the biggest liar in the history of the world.
However, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead more than proves that he is exactly who he said he was. He is the Christ, He is the Messiah, He is Lord, He is Savior, He is King, He is God!
There is no gates of Baal, Allah, Muhammad, Pan, Zeus, Hercules, Buddah, or Satan that will ever change that! The gates of Hell will not prevail against the church of Jesus!
It is all because of Jesus that FaithPoint exists. If there was no Jesus, there would be no reason for us to meet. There would be no reason for preaching, reading the Bible, or spreading the message of the gospel. But because Jesus is alive, FaithPoint is a church where everything that is done, preached, sung, written, said, printed…etc can be summed up by saying, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Now if you are a disciple, you should love your church.
Not the building or place where you meet. The building is not the church. The church is made up of all the members that attend that particular local church.
What is a disciple?
Real Disciples Love Jesus
Real Disciples Love Their Church
Real Disciples Love Their City and the People in the City