This week’s reading finds Jesus and the disciples in an area know as Caesarea Philippi, which is Situated 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee and at the base of Mt. Hermon, Caesarea Philippi is the location of one of the largest springs feeding the Jordan River.
According to Wikipedia, Caesarea Philippi was an ancient Roman city located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon (Har Hermon or Arabic Jebel esh-Sheikh). The city is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew,and Mark. The city was located within the region known as the “Panion” (the region of the Greek god Pan). Named after the deity associated with the grotto and shrines close to the spring called “Paneas“. Today, the city, now no longer inhabited, is an archaeological site located within the Golan Heights.
- Jesus made four historic predictions at Caesarea Philippi. They concerned:
- The Church: (Matt 16:18) For the first time, Jesus announced His purpose to build an ekklesia (Church), a community of the redeemed, called out to be His Body on earth, to witness to Him while He was absent.
- The Keys of the Kingdom: (Matt 16:19) The keys refer to authority in the ekklesia. This power would also be shared by the other apostles (Matt 18:18; John 20:20-23). This authority was given to the apostles to enable them to lead the first generation of believers after Pentecost until the epistles were written, that revealed Jesus’ standards and provisions for His ekklesia.
- Jesus’ coming death and resurrection: (Matt 16:21-23) Jesus announced His death and resurrection, the events that would provide the redemption essential for the Church to come into existence.
- Jesus’ call to discipleship: (Matt 16:24-27) Jesus used the example of His own obedience to the Father, even to death, as He taught His followers this basic definition of a disciple. After His return to the Father, Jesus’ Body on earth would be composed of those who would deny themselves and follow Him.
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