The Christ

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16

Please read and/or listen to Matthew 16:13-20 today. These are some powerful verses. The disciples had come with Jesus to Caesarea Philippi. This city is at the very northern end of Israel near the city of Dan. It has one of the main springs that feeds the Jordan River. It is a city with deeply pagan roots. Many pagan deities have been worshiped here, beginning with worship of Baal. Under Alexander the Great, Pan began to be worshiped and the name of the city was Panias. Later, the city was given to King Herod by the Roman Emperor Augustus. Herod built a white marble temple to honor the emperor. After Herod’s death, his son Phillip the Tetrarch would rename the city Caesarea Philippi in honor of Caesar and himself. In addition to the temple to Caesar, there were temples to Pan and Zeus. It was a wicked city of devil worship. It is ironic to have such ugliness in one of the most lush and beautiful places in Israel. Currently, it is named Banias, as pronounced in Arabic. It was here that Jesus intentionally brought the disciples to ask a question. “Who do you say I am?” “The Christ!” Peter replies. It was here that Jesus declared that he would build his church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. It was here, among all the places of worship, that Jesus made it clear that he is the One to be worshiped. We each must choose what to worship. You will worship something—either the devil or God. Who is it that you worship? Who do you say Jesus is?