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Day 4: Who do you say that I am?

Oh my. What words to describe Ceasarea-Philippi? A vast yawning cave dominates this ancient pagan place of worship. Before an earthquake changed the direction of the water that now flows as a rippling stream leading to the cave, it used to rush forcefully from its mouth. People would bring their sacrifice to the gods, whose statues ruled in judgment from the niches in the side of the rock face, sometimes bringing their babies and children as the offering. The sacrifice was thrown into the rushing water. If it floated downstream it was not accepted. If the water swallowed up the sacrifice, it was accepted. Seers took up residence here accepting fees to tell a future or give counsel or judgment. It was here that Jesus asked the question, ”Who do you say that I am?”

Statues of pagan gods ruled in judgment from the niches in the side of the rock face to the right of the cave entrance.

Here before all that the world sought to worship, here before all that the world looked to for help and healing, here before all that the world yearned to find meaning and purpose … Jesus sat with his disciples and asked them to share what the world said of him. Taking in all the futility before them, Peter answered, ”You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus is the One who saves. Jesus is the One who heals. Jesus is the One who counsels and comforts and gives us meaning. Jesus restores our meaning: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Think on that for a moment. Do we look elsewhere for healing, counsel, comfort, meaning … instead of asking the Lord who is right before us? Where do we go to find these things instead of simply looking up and asking for Jesus’ help? … The questions I heard Jesus ask today, ”Who do you say that I am? Am I your Messiah, Master, Savior, Lord? Am I your Friend?”

Interestingly enough, since the last time I was here a church has been found positioned in front of the mouth of the cave. No more rushing water to claim an offering, a sacrifice. The sacrifice was made. In that church even in ruin Christ now stands in front of that cave, victorious over the gates of hell (another name given to this site).

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