Small Voice Calling > The Call > Moved to Tears > Rock
The Song: Rock
Though Peter would betray him
He made him the rock
On which he’d build his church
To sort of keep him in his debt
A man about to die
Is allowed some confusion
And that’s why Jesus wept
The Bible: Peter’s profession of faith
The Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 16, Verses 13 to 23 (Matthew 16: 13 – 23).
In the foothills of Mount Hermon, atop a huge wall of rock, stood a city. Philip, the local ruler, had named it Caesarea, in honour of his boss and patron, the emperor Augustus. It was known as Caesarea Philippi (Philip’s Caesar Town), to distinguish it from the similarly august Caesarea Maritime (Caesar-Town-on-Sea).
Philip’s Caesarea had previously been called Paneas, after the Greek god Pan, who was worshipped here along with countless other gods. And now there was a new cult – the cult of the emperor – for the Roman Senate had deified Julius Caesar, and Augustus, his adopted son and successor, had styled himself ‘son of a god’.
At the base of the great rock was a cave, out of which flowed a stream that would soon become the River Jordan. The locals believed nymphs lived in the cave, and that it was a gateway to the underworld. The gates of Hades. Or Hell.
This was gentile country. Pagan, even.
And Jesus brought his closest friends here to ask them a question:
“Who do people say I am?”
Some said, “John the baptiser”; others, “Elijah. Or Jeremiah. Or one of the prophets”.
“What about you”, insisted Jesus. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon spoke up. “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.”
“Good for you, Simon”, said Jesus. “No man told you this. It was my Father in Heaven who revealed this to you.
“Now I say you are Peter (Greek Petros), and I will build my community on this rock (Greek petra). And the gates of the underworld will not hold out against it.”