On Sunday evening I preached on the life of Peter and what we might learn from him as we journey through Lent. In the course of the preparation I discovered something I had not known before. This may be 'old hat' to many of you out there but it hit a chord with me.
We started with his confession of Jesus as Christ at Caesarea Phillipi and talked about the well known geography of the context ... that he possibly made this famous statement of faith, right by the 'Rock of the Gods' with all its many niches for statues as objects of worship and the spring known as the Gate of Hades. Hence the context for the comment by Jesus when he calls Peter the rock upon which he will build his Church and the Gates of Hades will never prevail against it (and yes we sang 'that' song!)
While I knew the Roman Catholic Interpretation (the church is built on the rock of this man Peter ... handed down through the apostolic succession and papal authority) and I knew the Protestant interpretation (the rock upon which the church is built is our confession of Christ as Lord) I had never come across a third option.
Jesus has taken them all on a 32 mile round trip to 'Sin City'. He's not en route anywhere as such that takes him pass Caesarea Phillipi so that he might suddenly decide 'Hey lads let's just pop in for a look at the Rock of the Gods with its orgies of worship to Pan and Nemesis, Caesar etc ...'
It was hardly the place for a deacons' retreat no ...
but it seems he has taken them there for a reason.
And maybe the reason is this:
When he tells Peter that the Church is going to be built 'upon this rock etc' what he is saying is
'I want you to built the church, proclaim the gospel, confess me as Lord in places exactly like this ... the 'Rock of the Gods.' In places where God is not honoured, where worship is misplaced and are idols glorified ... that is the proper location for the church to begin its proclamation that Jesus is Lord.
If that is so then some removal vans might need to be ordered now.