Day 2, Reflections on Matthew 16: 13-23 after seeing Caesarea Philippi

19 03 2013

Prior to our trip, from my perspective, I was disappointed that we were going to Banias – Caesarea Philippi, rather than to Tel Dan which was located such an extremely short distance from this site. I had hoped that since we were going to be so close to both sites, that I could successfully encourage, at the very least, a quick stop-over at Tel Dan after we had finished our visit to Banias – Caesarea Philippi. However, our Day 2 itinerary was so packed with things to do and places to be, that even I could see that by the time that we were done at Banias – Caesarea Philippi, there was no additional time left for a stop at Tel Dan.

In my mind Tel Dan was so much more important, not only because it provided significant archaeological evidence for events discussed in the Bible from the time of Joshua, right up to the time of the Greek kings of Hellenization Era (when the cultural focal point of the region shifted from Tel Dan to Banias – Caesarea Philippi), but it also was the site where one of the most important (ranked #2 in importance) Biblical discoveries in archaeology was made, the discovery of the “House of David Inscription.” I confess that I wanted very much to see not only the site, but the very spot where such an important discovery was made (and I wanted my little Zoë to see it as well).

In my mind, prior to our visit, when I weighed the Biblical significance of both sites, the scales tipped heavily in favor of Tel Dan with not years, but centuries of Biblical significance, verses Banias – Caesarea Philippi which only had one day’s worth of Biblical existence in Matthew 16: 13-23.

However, after our visit, the visual insight provided by seeing the rock face cliff, that had the pagan temples of worship located at its base, provides a whole new, and significant, insight into my understanding of what Jesus was intending when He spoke the words recorded in Matthew. For me, as I visualize Jesus standing with his disciples, at much the same spot where I had stood near the base of this cliff, where all of these temples were located during His time on earth, and where for centuries prior to His visit different cultures had been using this area (the nearby Tel Dan included) as a focal point of their religious practices, it is much easier to conclude that He was referring to this location, rather than to His disciple Peter, when He stated, “on this rock I will build my church.”

And as a point of clarification, whenever I see the word “church” being used in the scripture I understand it to be His organic church, made up of the body of believers, as opposed to a physical structure.Image    

 

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