One account in the book of Matthew says that Jesus was talking to his disciples at Caesarea Philippi. This is one of those details that is easy to skip, but it is significant. Ceasarea Philippi was the world center of the goat god, Pan. People came from all over the world to worship this god. There is a cliff with a giant crack in it that the followers of Pan believed was the place where the spirits from hell would come and go from the earth. The crack was called the Gates of Hell. They built a temple for Pan there and then a court next to it where people would engage in sexual acts with goats during the Pan worship festivals.
And Jesus is there with his disciples. As good Jewish boys, they never would have gone to this place before. It is twenty-six miles from Galilee, where Jesus and his disciples are from. What was that walk like? Did Jesus even tell his disciples where they were going? Can you imagine them talking to each other behind his back? "When our parents find out about this, we are so busted!" The whole experience would have been riveting. Where are we going? What are we doing? What is our rabbi going to do next?
He tells them at Caesarea Philippi that upon this rock he is going to build his new witnessing community, and the Gates of Hell won't be able to stop it. He is essentially saying that those kinds of people -- the ones with the goats -- are going to join the Jesus movement and it will be unstoppable. How would you as a disciple even begin to process this statement?
Sunday, May 06, 2007
The Gates of Hell
This next blurb is interesting enough to warrant a direct quote from Rob Bell's book, "Velvet Elvis":