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Banias- Caesarea PhilippiBACKGROUND
The archeological site of Caesarea Philippi is situated in Banias, today a Natural Reserve in Northern Israel. At the time of Jesus it was a city of Greek-Roman culture known for worship of false gods. The city had been known as Banias, the name honoring the Greek god Pan — a half-man, half-goat deity depicted most of the time playing a flute. Here in this Holy Land destination is where Jesus proclaimed he would establish his church giving authority to the apostle Simon.
Located 25 mi north of the Sea of Galilee, the area of Caesarea Philippi was the northern most Jesus took his disciples. After Jesus crucifixion, the region was ruled by Philip, the son of King Herod the Great, and was renamed Caesarea. To distinguish it from the coastal Caesarea Maritima, it became known as Caesarea Philippi. The city had been constructed near the Banias spring, which runs down a massive rock-face, and continues down into one of the streams that feed the Jordan River.
Because Jesus taught in parables and liked to use grand locations in the Holy Land, it’s not hard to imagine Jesus standing by the rocky click at the Banias spring saying to Peter that he would be the “rock of my church” to build his church.
It is worth thinking on Mark 4:11 - "And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,"
Jesus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel as the Good Shepherd. He came to save His people from their sin. He was the One Whom Scripture promised would come to set up His kingdom of peace and prosperity on earth.
Jesus came to the Jew FIRST, to fulfil God's unconditional, covenant to Abraham, and His coming to Bethlehem in the land of Judah was one of numerous prophecies given to Israel, so they would recognise the eternal Son of His love - Whom God gave to be the Child, born of a virgin - so that whosoever believes on HIM would not perish but have everlasting life.
The many signs, wonders, and miracles He performed, authenticated His claim to be Israel's Messiah. He was great David's greater Son. Prophets of old recorded the signs He would perform and presented Israel with numerous prophecies, so they would be sure to recognise Him, when He arrived. They were to acknowledge Him as Lord and crown Him as King of kings. Shepherds were alerted. Wise men searched and after 400 years of silence from the Lord, John the Baptist was the prophetic voice crying in the wilderness, 'prepare ye the way of the Lord".
The Mosaic Law; the feasts of the Lord; the Aaronic priesthood; the sacrificial offering; the wilderness Tabernacle and Solomonic Temple were all signposts that pointed the people to Jesus. He was to be welcomed as the One Who would crush the head of the serpent. He was to shepherd His people Israel.
He was the anointed One, for Whom they had been waiting, since the first Passover, when God called His people out of Egypt to be His adopted son and chosen nation. He was the One through Whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. He was the One Who will bring in an era of peace and prosperity, where Israel would be the head and not the tail of the nations.
But When He arrived, Jesus did not fit in with their predetermined expectation and there was a certain point in Christ's ministry when the leaders of the Jews committed the unforgivable sin - they attributed the Spirit's work through Christ, to Baalzebub.
However, it was not only the Scribes and Pharisees who misunderstood His mission. The people of Israel expected their Messiah would be a mighty man of war, like King David, who would come like a conquering hero and bring the hated Roman empire to its knees.
It was from the point, in Christ's ministry, where priests and people misunderstood His message and ministry, that the style of His teaching changed from claiming to be Israel's King and proclaiming kingdom principles to the disinterested masses, to preparing the little flock of believers for a different message and ministry, by teaching kingdom mysteries to His committed disciples - through parables.
Parables were often used by Jewish rabbis to illustrate a point or clarify their teaching, but Jesus used them to conceal the truth from those who would not believe. Jesus used parables to provide revelation and understanding to those who would believe, while making His words unintelligible and incoherent to those whose heart was hardened against Him.
PETER IS NOT THE ROCK but a pebble.
“And I say unto you, that you are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
In order to understand the meaning here, we must start reading from Matt. 16:13. Christ asked the disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”
Peter answered, “ You [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vs. 16). Then Christ responded, “You are Peter [petros, which means little rock], and upon this rock [petra, means very great rock, referring to Christ Himself] I [pointing to Himself] will build My church” (vs. 18). Most people assume here that Christ is building His Church on Peter. But this is not the case. Christ is the great “Rock” upon whom the Church is built (Deut. 32:3-4,
3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
I Cor. 10:4;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
I Pet. 2:6), not Peter
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Christ was telling Peter that He (Christ) was about to establish the New Testament Church, lead it (Eph. 5:23), be with it always (Matt. 28:20), and that the gates of hell [Hades—the grave] would never prevail against it. God’s Church was to continue to exist, doing His Work through the ages as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), until the end of the age, when it would circle the whole world with the good news of the kingdom of God (Matt. 24:14). This Church would be persecuted (John 15:20; 16:33), but would never die out, remaining until Christ’s Return.
In Matthew 16:19, Christ continues, “And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…” The “keys” He is referring to here is symbolic language meaning that He gives His ministers the knowledge of how to enter the kingdom. This knowledge shows the way of life a Christian must follow in order to achieve salvation. Luke 11:52 shows Christ reproving certain lawyers for hiding or suppressing this knowledge, thus preventing themselves and others from entering the kingdom.
Continuing, “…and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven…” Some will say that this verse gives men the power or authority to change what God has said in the Bible. This is absolutely not the case! No man can change what God has said! The true ministers of God have been given the authority to bind only that which is in agreement with God’s laws. That, then, would be backed up—bound—by God.
When God’s ministers make a decision, it is based on Scripture—based on God’s will. But this in no way is giving ministers the power to forgive sin. Only God can and does that (Mark 2:7).
God does give ministers the ability to discern when a person has repented of certain sins, thus concluding that God has forgiven them.
This show us that no Priest can give you absolution...
formal release from guilt, obligation, or punishment.
It is God alone that you confess, to that you are a sinner. and only Jesus that can and will forgive you and welcome you into his Kingdom.
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