Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jesus at The Gates of Hell

Title: Jesus at The Gates of Hell
Scripture: Matthew 16:13-18, Matthew 28:18-20

Have you ever felt that there is so much to do, but no time to do it?  Have you ever taken an outside look at your life and wondered, “Am I really accomplishing anything here?”  Or “Is there more to life than working for food & paying bills?” Have you ever felt the pull to simplify?

There are a lot of noble causes in the world today and a lot of things that jockey for your time and attention. 

In Matthew 16:13-18, Jesus is going to bring some simplification to life & teach His disciples THE CAUSE that He wants them to focus on.  Like a soldier that doesn’t get involved in civilian affairs, He is calling His disciples & to keep life simple and focus on His Cause.  And as a church (ekklesia) , we are also called out to be actively involved in this simplifying focus too.

Matthew 16:13-18 (NIV)- Christian scholar & rabbi, Ray VanderLaan says that this is Jesus’ graduation speech for his disciples.  He takes His disciples on a “field trip”, in order to teach them something.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi,
1.  Located 25 miles from the worship of the Living God, CP was THE center for the pagan worship of the god Pan.  This was the RED LIGHT DISTRICT, a place good godly people didn’t go.  Off limits to Jewish people. 
2. The key location in CP is the Temple of Pan.  Here they would pay homage to this ½ man ½ goat by doing deplorable, graphic, obscene things that I will not even mention.  
3. This temple of Pan is located on a huge bedrock wall at the footing of Mt. Hebron. 
4. Here, there is a cave, which used to be the spring that began what we call the Jordan River.  This cave spring was called, literally, “The Gates to the Underworld” or “The Gates of Hell”.  It was from there that the pagans believed Pan came from to bless them. 
5. In fact, even today, Jewish people in Israel consider water to be the place where evil comes from.  (ie Jordanian boats vs. Israeli shore fishermen).
6. Later, we will dig into the significance of this bedrock wall, and discover it is a key to understanding this passage.

He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about YOU?” He asked. “Who do YOU say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blest are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

“This rock”
1. Roman Catholic- The rock is Peter, after all, his name is Peter which means rock.  Also here Jesus again switches his name from Simon Bar-Jonah to Peter.  The Church would be built ON Peter/the Pope.
2. Protestant common view- The rock is Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the LIVING God.

1. The Greek word here refers to a bedrock, cliff, or rock wall.
2. Petros vs. Petra- Peter’s name is masculine, petra is feminine thus not referring to Peter, but to an object…a large rock, a bedrock, a cliff.  The Temple of Pan & the Gates of Hades.

Correct interpretation-
1. “This Rock” what Jesus is saying here is: I am going to build my church here, among the pagans.  We are going to advance against the Gates of Hades & they will not overcome it.
Before this, if people wanted to worship God, they came to Jerusalem.  NOW Jesus is saying that His church is going to the pagan peoples, just like this RED LIGHT district.  He is going to build His church among them & Hell will crumble.

Today- Among some Christians there is a separate view of Christianity “come out and be separate”.  But Jesus, according to this verse, NEVER intended for us to be on the defense, but for Hell to be on the defense.  We need to put on our dogtags, tighten our boots & do what our sovereign Jesus has told us to do.

Here Jesus tells us to go to the lost, the pagans, the sinners & establish a church.  To advance on Hell & win people to life. Are we doing this?

 Matthew 28:18-20
Then, in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives His final command reported in Matthew.
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew could have ended with where Acts begins, but it ends here to show the “so what” of his gospel.
Jesus says, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. “
I- Subbing 1st Grade @Navarre, “you can’t tell me what to do.”

THEREFORE-when you see it, what it means. “as a result…”

GO- literally, Jesus is telling us what He wants us to do.  This is called our great commission.  Jesus is sending us, “Go…”  so GO!

Go and….make disciples of all the nations.
Disciple=student, a learner.  Notice the word evangelism here…not.  It is a process of sharing your story, sharing the good news, and inviting others to follow you as you follow Jesus.  Go and make students of all nations (Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria, uttermost parts of the earth).

Baptizing- Mikvah!  To literally plunge them into the name/character of the Triune God

Teach- new students to obey Jesus’ commands & also yield to His authority over them.

What does this look like for Joe Christian?
Here are some tips to help you join The Cause…
1. Begin praying for those in your SOI (Sphere of Influence).
2. See yourself as the missionary in your sphere of influence.
3. Bring up God/Jesus in some way 2 times a week in public.

Ask God to give you a burden for one person to disciple this year.
- Pursue that person God gave you a burden for & invite them to your small group or to study the Bible together. 
- Bring up a conversation about Jesus with that person. 
- Share your story of how Jesus impacted you and ask them if they would like to know this Jesus with you.
- Invite that person to Sunday Celebration.
- See yourself as a spiritual parent to the person God burdens you with.  You may even say, “God has really put you on my heart.  Would you like to meet together to talk about Jesus sometime?”

- Get use to rejection, it will happen. 
- Remember, we are on the offensive. And Jesus wins.

In conclusion, Jesus ends his Great Assignment/Cause with these words that bring us comfort and give us courage, “And be sure of this- I am with you always, even to the end of the age!”  He is with you and will never forsake you.