Leviticus 19:1-20:21, Mark 8:11-38, Psalms 42:1-11, Proverbs 10:17
Today is the 26th day of February welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I am Brian it’s great to here with you today as we continue…well…we’ve kinda got a final push in this month now, a couple days left in this month. But as we continue our journey through the book of Feb…the book of February…I gotta like rewind the whole thing and start over, right? Hopefully I can…hopefully I can read today. So, it…it’s the month of February. It’s the 26th day of that month and we’re reading from the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament We’re reading from the New Living Translation this week. Leviticus 19 verse 1 through 20 verse 21.
Okay. Let’s talk about Caesarea Philippi today. This is a town in Israel north of the Sea of Galilee, about 15 miles and it's…it’s odd because normally at this time year, normally right now we would be in the land of the Bible leading pilgrimage. And I don’t know if this would be the day that we go to Caesarea Philippi but it would be somewhere around here and once we got to the Galilee. And, so, the Sea of Galilee is kind of in northern Israel. And then heading up toward the border with like Syria and Lebanon we would encounter Caesarea Philippi. Like I said, about 15 miles north of the Sea of Galilee, north of where Jesus kind of headquartered His ministry. This is a very pagan city. It was a Roman city so you kind of have…have special permission to get in there is a Jew. The kinds of things that we’re going on there, like the ritual…the ritual idol worship that was going on there was offensive, very offensive to Hebrew people. So, Hebrew clergy of any sort, they’re not gonna go anywhere near there. And yet here’s the Rabbi Jesus going there, going there to this place. And the point is this…it's…it’s not by accident. Like you don’t just walk on foot, 15 miles one way accidentally and go, “oh shucks, I didn’t know there was a city here. What is this place?” They knew this was a hub of Roman governance, this was a very Roman city and they worshiped…well…primarily they worship the God Pan there. And Pan is known for instilling Pan-ic in its enemies. And Pan was…well…a lot of fertility rites happened around the worship of Pan. Pan was thought to be half human and half goat. And, so, the kind of rituals that would happen in this type of worship we would…we would find them to be revolting and perverse. I guess you just have to imagine fertility, humans, goats all working together toward some sort of blessing of the deity Pan and you sort of get the idea. And, like I was saying this place, it’s ruins, it’s an archaeological ruin at this point, but it still exists. And, so, you know, it wasn’t just like ritual worship. That was one part of town, like the religious part of town where the temples were, where we go to…to worship but then there’s other parts of town as well. But in the area where the temples were there’s this massive cliff face. I want to say it’s a good hundred feet tall and it’s just kind of stark. It’s up a sheer cliff face. If you were up on top of it, you couldn’t climb down without ropes and stuff. You’d fall to your death but at the base of that…of that cliff face is a huge cave. And in previous times before the Romans, before Pan, this was side of Baal worship. And, of course, in the Old Testament we hear plenty about the Baals. This is a place of Baal worship and the cave was thought to be the place where Baal would enter this world from the underworld and then would return to the underworld from this world through that cave and that cave was known as the gates of hell. So, it’s a really really interesting place, but it’s also really interesting what’s happening here. So, Jesus and His disciples are doing this 15-mile walk, they’re getting near Caesarea Philippi and Jesus starts to inquire about assumptions. What are the assumptions about me, right? What are people saying about me? What do they…who do they say that I am? And that’s when they find out that the assumptions about Jesus are that He’s John the Baptist just resurrected from the dead, that he’s Elijah, the ancient prophet, that He’s one of the other prophets that is returned. Those are incorrect assumptions, but they are the assumptions, and they are the things that people were saying about Jesus. And then Jesus asks what I think is probably the most important question that a human being can…can be asked and that a human being can answer. Who do you say that I am? And that is when Peter declares, “you are the Messiah.” We’ve encountered this story once already. We’re in the second gospel in the book of Matthew. That’s when Jesus says, “Peter, my father revealed this to you.” And then He says, “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” That is really important because now we are tying geography to a declaration of Christ. He’s in Caesarea Philippi where the gates of hell were thought to be. And maybe…maybe when we pass this territory again in the Gospels we’ll talk more about it, but let’s focus in on the conversation. Let’s focus in on the fact that Jesus was geographically located, making statements, but his question, “who do you say that I am? No matter what anybody else is saying about me” basically is what Jesus is saying. “No matter what anybody else is saying about me because everything else that’s being said is wrong. Who do you say that I am?” And that is something to take into our day-to-day. I have spent my entire life with the desire to know God deeply and I realize that people say all kinds of things about who Jesus is. And I realize that at the end of it all it isn’t Jesus looking at me asking me who Mary says He is or who Tom says He is, or who George says He is who Tiffany says He is, it’s who I say that He is that matters to Him and our relationship. And that is how it is for you too. Who do you say that Jesus is?
Father, we have the instant correct answers to that. Like, we could spout off the correct answer, but it’s far deeper than that. The questions way more probing than that. It goes down to the bedrock. It’s like our declaration of faith. And, so, Holy Spirit come before we just spout off the right answer. We want to sit in this. We want to marinate in this. We want to contemplate this. We want to meditate upon it. Who does our heart say that you are? Who does our lives say that you are? Come Holy Spirit into these questions we pray. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.