Pastor’s Desk 2019-11-19

Chuck Sheridan Avatar

Good Morning to You,

Its good to be home, but we did have an amazing time with a group of 27 of us in Israel. Some of us got back last Wed morning, coming from Paris to Mexico City on a red-eye – which is good cause there is always hope that one will sleep some of the flight away. The relationships we built with our group will always be remembered, and perhaps the exercise as well. Pam had one of those watches that track your steps – 3.5 miles (5 klms) one day and yet, the tiredness didn’t hinder our group from getting right back at it the next day and doing it all over. We saw so many of the sights spoken of in the Bible. There are numerous photos on the church facebook as well as my own facebook which explain many of the sights we saw. Allow me to share one story in this morning’s email from our visit to Caesarea Philippi. The story from Scripture is found in Matthew 16:13-20, but what’s behind the story is what gives the passage life.
 
V:13 – When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi (CP) . . . Let me give you a little background here cause when we read the bible without context, we don’t always get it. Why did he need to tell us where they had gotten to.? There’s something important here for us to understand. The backdrop has something to do with what’s he’s about to say. We are actually North of Jerusalem here, close to the Syrian border. Caesarea Philippi was actually named to honor Caesar Augustus who was in power at the time of Jesus birth. It was only 25 miles from Galilee where Jesus did much of his ministry. But the religious practices here were way different from that of the other Jewish towns. In fact, in the Old Testament, this was the center of the worship of the Canaanite god Baal, the one they would sacrifice to. King Jeroboam, in the OT, built what they called a high place here that led to the Israelites worshipping false gods. This is where it all happened.

Years later, when Rome conquered this area, this governor named Herod Phillip, renamed it after himself, Caesarea Philippi. There is a cave here in this mountain (cliffside) which historians tell us was the focal point of that region. And that cave was at the center of the worship of a Greek god named “Pan”. Worshippers believed that this cave at the base of CP, created a gate to the underworld, where the fertility gods lived and during the spring, they came out when the water flowed out of that cave. And people would do immoral things as they worshipped this god Pan – temple prostitution and bestiality and child sacrifice that would take place in their worship. And this is the backdrop where Jesus would speak these words from. 

See these disciples must have been in shock when Jesus brought them here. This would have been like the red light area. It was nasty and it would have shocked these Jewish boys. It was so immoral, it was actually nicknamed “the gates of Hades”, the gates of hell. And Jesus is giving a clear challenge to his disciples as he talks about the church. We’re going to see this in a moment. He doesn’t want them to hide from the messy places of the world is what he’s saying. He’s helping the disciples to understand that they’re not to pull back, they’re to press in. You’re not to run away. You’re to run to. See the church is to be an advancing mission, advancing against things that may make us uncomfortable. So in this bizarre setting Jesus asks his disciples some bizarre questions. Let’s pick it up again Mt 16:13,

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  Hey guys, what’s the word on the street in regards to me? What are people saying about me? Think about me? 14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” (you’re  a pretty influential guy) 15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” And Peter who often suffered from foot in mouth disease, answers – he blurts out the answer and gets it right. 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. In other words, you’re not that smart, Peter. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell (the gates of hades) will not conquer it.

Now, if you grew up Roman Catholic, you were taught that Jesus was talking about Peter whose name is rock. Let me tell you Peter, you’re going to be the first pope and you will build my church. Now as evangelicals, as protestants, we look at it a little differently. If you grew up protestant, you were taught that Jesus was not talking about Peter, but about the statement that Peter made about Jesus – upon this truth, upon this rock, upon this truth, I will build my church, the truth that you recognized Peter – that I am the son of the living God, the Savior of the world. See I believe Jesus was saying, on this truth, upon me, I will build this church. I will build my ekklesia, I will build my assembly, I will build my “called out” people – a group of indestructible people that nothing will or can ever overcome. That’s what Jesus is saying to his disciples and this movement is never going to stop, Jesus said.
Think about it – its 2000 years later and the church is still going. Jesus was saying he was going to build a body of believers who would rally and gather around this one truth – that Jesus is the Savior of the world – that he died and he rose again and because of that, that nothing is impossible. And Folks, we believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Its an historical fact.

This is our message folks, this is our mission – to declare to the world that Jesus changes everything. Jesus is our hope. So keep going. Press on. Keep advancing the Gospel – God’s Good News. It’s unstoppable!
This is how the bible was brought to life for us on this tour as we stood in the vey place where Jesus identified the mission and the future of the Church. Many of the sites we saw reinforced the truth of Scripture and gave it new life for us.
 
So grateful for our Worship Team at SCCC. – I hope you are enjoying Ryan’s postings on the church face book page of any new songs we will be utilizing for worship.. It’s a great way to become familiar with a new song we will be adding to our worship times. Please check it out. There’s some great music being written as of late and our team spends a lot of time looking for songs with applicable and Godly words which will be meaningful as we worship together.
 
Sermon ReviewOn Sunday, we continued our series on Perseverance, this week looking at what fuels our courage when persevering through the different life issues we face. All too often, we go to the “wrong service station” to fuel our courage and when we encounter one of those events, our courage is exposed for what it us and we either give up or shake our fist at God. Through an understanding of why the book of Hebrews was written, we caught a glimpse of the “right service station” and how to fuel our courage. If your courage has faltered and you feel your faith has let you down, check out this message at  www.sancarloscommunitychurch.com. And then click on audio messages.
 
Praying you all have a wonderful week,
Pastor Glenn & Jeannine

Useful Links

Previous Posts