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Caesarea Philippi

Briefing: Do you have locations in your jurisdiction that have significant meaning to you? As a young Dallas Officer, my training officer drove me to every location that a Dallas Officer had ever died and told me their names and the circumstances of how they died in the line of duty. Those locations took on new significance for me.

Dispatch (Assignment): Read Matthew 16:13-30.

On the Street: If we are not careful, it is easy to miss the significance of the location of Jesus’ declaration to Peter and the disciples. Caesarea Philippi appears to be the destination of their travels.

Caesarea Philippi was a region of heavy pagan worship. It was a mountainous area that was known for the waters that gushed out of one of the caves in the side of the mountain and the pagan orgies that took place there. Pagans would come to this area, pray to the fertility gods and have sex orgies under the trees on the mountain. They believed that the fertility gods lived deep in the earth and came up through the cave. I don’t know about you, but any god that comes from deep in the earth is not a god, but a demon.

I have to think that Jesus was taking the fight to the enemy. He chose Caesarea Philippi for a reason. When churches send out missionaries, they don’t send them to cities and towns where there are an abundance of churches. They are sent to areas where there is not an opportunity to hear the Word of God. This was a spiritual battleground and Jesus was going behind enemy lines, right up to the enemy headquarters to make His stand. Jesus said, “the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. The symbolism of the location should not be lost.

While researching Caesarea Philippi, I noticed the area directly under the famous cave is described as “bedrock”, which translated in Greek means Petra. This is the word Jesus used, in the Greek, when He said, “and on this Petra (rock) I will build my church”.

Once they arrived in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks the question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Why would He choose this place? Jesus says, “On this rock I will build my church”.

Highlights from this Read: In verse fifteen, Jesus uses His words perfectly. He does not ask, “Who do you think I am?” He asked, “Who do you say I am?” Sometimes, what I think about someone and what I say about them are two different things. In verse twenty, Jesus tells His disciples not to tell anyone because His time had still not come.

Verse eighteen is very interesting when you look at the original Greek words. Peter, translated from Greek, means detached stone, a single stone. When Jesus says, “on this rock”, rock is Petra which actually means bedrock, which is many stones. Jesus was saying that on these rocks, the disciples, He would build His church.

Investigational Resources: Mark 8:27-29 and Luke (:18-20. Living stones and chosen people – 1 Peter 2:4-12. Read Romans 10:14-15. Jesus told them not to tell anyone about Peter’s revelation but it was only for a short time. Soon they would be sent out to tell the whole world.

Officer Safety Principle: We need to ask ourselves the same question that Jesus asked His disciples. Who do you say Jesus is?

from The Gospel of Matthew Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!