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Caesarea Philippi

You Will See Him in His Glory

Jesus "was transfigured before them, His face shown like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light" (Matthew 17:2).

Caesarea Philippi was also called Panias, and was located in the far north of Palestine.  Looming over them from the north, is Mt. Hermon, at 9,200 feet above sea level, and to the northwest, Mt. Lebanon, at 11,000 feet.  Almost directly west, on the coast, is the ruined city of Tyre.  We find the apostles and our Lord at this place, as recorded in Matthew 16:13-20 (and possibly Matthew 17:1-13, along with Matthew 17:1, and forward).

In Matthew 16, our hearts should really ache for Peter, for he is so much like the rest of us - we see our humanity, in him.  Jesus had just caused 4,000 men (plus women and children) to be FILLED with food, from seven little loaves of bread and a few small fish.   (Would the disciples trust Him, now?  Will you trust Him?)  From the north shore of Galilee, they went north again, where Jesus warned them (warned us, also) to beware of religion (and religious people) who do not have the power and love of God.

Now, they were in the area of Caesarea Philippi, and Jesus asked them a question.   (He already knew the outcome, by the way).  The purpose of God’s questions in your life, is that we might be stretched - that you might understand that Jesus is the Christ; and that you find your place in the program of God in this world (not to mention the next).  But even more, the questions in our lives are designed to make us see our utter reliance upon Christ - our need of Him.

That wasn’t the end of it, for Jesus began to tell them (Matthew 16:21) He would go to Jerusalem, suffer abuse at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then raised again, on the 3rd day.  Now, from our perspective, this is very good news, for we know that in dying, Jesus paid the price for our sins.  In His death and resurrection, we live – but only because of Him.

Peter and the others did not understand (like we often do not understand much of the work of God in our lives).  Peter liked it that he had the comforting presence of a human-appearing Leader (Jesus), Who would give them success in life.  This "killed" stuff (He told them He would be killed) was unsettling to them all.

That’s our problem, isn’t it?  We get comfortable in our way of life. We like the way things are.  We might be in a satisfactory marriage, a job that’s fulfilling enough, a religious context that allows us to feel satisfied about ourselves, relatively good health, and so on.  What happens when God allows one or more of our "feel good" areas to be taken away?  What will we do, when God decides we can better serve Him, in a new context?

So Peter drew Jesus aside, and said (Matthew 16:22), "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You."  But what he really was saying, is what WE often are saying, "I don’t want this to happen to me."

Jesus replied by calling him "Satan," referred to him as an "offense," and continued, "you are not mindful of the things of God, but of men."  Powerful words.  "If anyone desires to follow Me," He said, "let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me."  What do we gain, if we have everything in this world, and lose what is really important in life?

Peter apparently got the message and took it to heart, because, it was just a few days later, when Jesus took him, and James (who would die an early, violent death), and John (who would outlive the rest of them, but become a prisoner), to a place where He was transfigured before them.  They saw Him in His glory, and as a bonus, got to see Moses and Elijah.

It is when we finally let our desires be subordinated to His, that we are able to see the glory of God.  Our Lord intends to reveal Himself - in Your life.  You are being transformed.  But if trouble comes, and your earthly "house" is shaken, what will your response be?

Planning is important in this context, and this is what we must do:

Father, I give myself to You, right now.  My body is yours, my source of income, marital status, health, my home, children - my life.  All these are Yours, but You have shared them with me, for this time.  You are the wellspring of my joy, my comfort, my peace, and my salvation.  I entrust all I am, and have - to You, Lord. I give all to You. I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, and I trust You, now. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries