Monuments & Moments – Day 8 – The Gates of Hell

Building Upon the Rock
On our day in the Golan Heights region, we made our way north to a place called Banias, and from there, to a place called The Gates of Hell. It was this place where I had a chance to teach to our group what it meant when Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail.” I didn’t expect this to hit me emotionally, but I wept from the revelation God poured out on me as I explored this area.

Rock Used for Sacrifice in the Gates of Hell

Temples of Worship in the Area

"When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'” Matthew 16:13-19 NKJV

Jesus took his disciple about 60 miles from his home base in Capernaum, and led them into Gentile (or non-Jewish) territory that was one of the most notorious places of evil and sacrifice. He made His way to a place called the Gates of Hell, where people sacrificed their children to the false god Pan. Pan was an evil creature, his name is the root of the word “panic.” They believed that when goose bumps on your neck appear, it was the god Pan causing it. They would throw their children on a rock in a cave, and if the blood flowed from the stream below, pan was satisfied. If the blood did not flow then they would sacrifice another child.

Jesus stood in this place and asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” Peter said “You are the Christ!,” and Jesus replied “upon this rock I will build my church.” Which rock was Jesus talking about? I believe he was talking about three rocks:

Rock 1: The small rock of peter. Peter (or “Petro") means small rock, and Jesus makes the point “upon you Peter, my small rock, I can build my church because you have faith in me!”

Rock 2: The big rock of the Gospel. Peter means “small rock,” and when Jesus said “upon this rock,” the word he used the word for rock was “petra,” which means mountain. The big rock is the rock of Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, Jesus is the corner stone, the cap stone, and the rock of our foundation. Jesus Christ is the Rock which the church is actually built on.

Rock 3: The evil rock of the Gates of Hell. Jesus was standing at the rock where people sacrificed their children when He said this. He proclaimed “upon this rock I will build my church.”

In the darkest of places, nothing can hold back the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come for just one group of special people; Jesus died for every man, woman, and child. Jesus was God, and He did not demand the blood of our children. Instead, Jesus, the only son of God, threw Himself on that rock and died and bled for you and me. I can not imagine throwing one of my children to their death to appease a god, yet that’s exactly what God did for me. He threw His son down upon the rock to die, so not a single child has to be sacrificed again, and so no other person will have to earn forgiveness.

Jesus came to the Gates of Hell in Gentile territory where Jewish laws prevented Jews from mingling with Gentiles. Jesus is our example to bring His message into any dark place to show His love to everyone. Even if you are personally trapped in a dark place, let me remind you that it’s in that very place He wants you to build His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail.

Question:

What does Jesus' sacrifice mean to you?

Prayer:

(Prayer Template from Day 5: Worship, Confess, Listen, Declare)

Jesus, thank You for sending Your Son to die for my sins. Help me bring Your love into the world that so desperately needs it. Help me never to take that for granted.

Bottom Line:

Jesus died for me when he could have called for my punishment because of the sins I've committed.

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