Wednesday, April 6
Read Matthew 16:1-20

The scene is one of the most dramatic in all of God’s word. The Galilean carpenter stands on a massive outcropping of rock, 1150 feet above sea level, dwarfed by the gigantic cliff which towered above it. Just a short distance away stands the brilliant white marble temple built to the worship of Caesar, hence the name of the place, Caesarea.

Behind it is the cavern where the Greeks claimed their god Pan was born. In Jesus’ day it led to a shaft which bored so deeply into the earth that its floor could not be found. The ancients called it “the gates of Hades.” Scattered around the hilly countryside are 14 temples to Baal, the Canaanite god where the Syrians worshipped. And nearby is one of the origins of the Jordan River, the holiest river to his own Jewish people.

In the midst of these religious traditions, surrounded by every kind of deity known to his culture, he asks his followers, “Who do you say that I am?” And one of them declares, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The carpenter from Nazareth responds, “On this rock I will build my church” (v. 18a). And the Church is born.

Then Jesus makes a remarkable statement: “and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (v. 18b). His words are better translated, “and the gates of Hades will not withstand its assault.” How do we win in spiritual warfare? By taking the offensive. The Church is not a fortress built to withstand the attacks of hell—we are an army called to attack its gates. When we do, we will always win the victory in the power of our King.

One of my favorite posters pictures a ship at sea battling the winds and waves. The caption reads: “Ships are safest in the harbor, but that is not what ships are for.”

For reflection
What are you doing to attack the gates of hell today?


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