Jesus had a revealing conversation with His disciples in the district of Caesarea Philippi. In Matthew 16:15-18 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.” And Jesus answered 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 tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
To give some context, in the location where Jesus had this conversation, there was a large cliff with an opening halfway up. For centuries, pagan worship had happened at this cliff opening; sacrifices were thrown down it to appease the god, Pan. Even children were thrown into this cliff opening. It was a centre of devil worship and was named ‘the gates of hell’. There was possibly even a pagan sacrifice happening as Jesus spoke with His disciples that day. The thinking was to throw sacrifices down there to keep the evil, angry Pan god pleased and pagan worshippers protected. They were trying to satisfy Pan’s hunger so nothing would be sent through gates of hell to the earth, no famine, sickness or hardship. So when Jesus brought His disciples to this spot, what he had to say held powerful significance.
Amid this horrendously evil scene, Peter rightly declared in that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God! Jesus confirms that this revelation to Peter has come from His Father in Heaven. What a moment! In the face of evil sacrifice and pagan worship, the true Son of God who gives life to the world stands in total defiance over all evil, and with all the authority of heaven says, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’.
At this centre of evil, Almighty God, God in the flesh, Jesus Christ makes the statement that even the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. What an extraordinary thing this church must be, what a special people the church must be. You see, the beautiful truth was, instead of sacrificing for protection to a god, Jesus was going to sacrifice Himself for the world to know Him as Saviour. All because of His great love. But it doesn’t stop there. Not only is He Saviour of the world, He is all-powerful over evil and is building His church and kingdom that will last for all eternity.
Rejoice today! Jesus is God, and He has overcome, and in Him, we, the saints of God, are over-comers! Romans 8:31 says, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus, Your Son. Thank You that He is my Saviour and that He is building the church and my life! We rest in the truth that the devil and all the host of hell will not, no, can not, prevail against Your almighty sovereign power. Thank You for overcoming, and we stand in You as over-comers today. Amen