Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gates of Hell and Weeds

Our small group watched Ray Vander Laan's Gates of Hell last night. It's one of my favorites in the That the World May Know - Faith Lessons series.

Our discussion focused on Jesus' response to Peter found in Matthew 16:18.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not over come it. (or "not prove stronger than it")
The original Greek petros (a stone) is translated "Peter" and the word petra (a massive rock) is translated "rock." 

If Jesus were referring to Peter and/or his confession, it seems Jesus would have used the same word, petros.

Ray Vander Laan points out the significance of the location where Jesus is having this discussion. 
"This video was filmed at the base of a cliff that is more than one hundred feet high. There the people built temples and shrines dedicated to various gods.... This cliff could also be referred to as the 'Rock of the Gods,' because idols and statues of gods and goddesses were placed into small openings cut into the rock. " (Faith Lessons on the death & resurrection of the Messiah, Leader's Guide, p. 68)

"Jesus was saying, in effect, 'My church will come and replace the very power and strength of the devil.' Jesus then added that 'the gates of Hades' (hell) would not prove stronger than His church." (Faith Lessons on the death & resurrection of the Messiah, Leader's Guide, p. 69)
Many Christians want to hide in their Christian fortress trying to make sure Satan's army is kept out. This is opposite of what Jesus is talking about. I agree with Vander Laan even more after reading the parables in Matthew 13 this morning. 
  • The farmer scattered the seeds - not all was on good soil but the good soil was near other areas
  • The mustard seed - small in comparison but becomes a tree that birds flying by will rest on
  • Yeast mixed into a large amount of flour - small amount influencing larger amount
Jesus spoke in parables because not everyone could understand.
"The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil." (v 41)
"Weed out" indicates they are growing together.

  • Parable of the hidden treasure - the field is the world, treasure is in the midst of the world. Jesus purchased the world - the treasure is his, hidden again among the world.
  • Parable of the fish net - caught all kind of fish then sorted out the bad.
  • The house owner (v 52) - new treasures as well as old
"Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor." (v57)
The prophet is among like people who reject him. He moves on to do his work outside of his home.

"Every plant that my Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots," indicating the plants planted by God will stay. (Matthew 15:13-14) Both are plants.
  • The Canaanite woman among the "lost sheep of Israel." She had "great faith" and her request was granted. (v 21ff)
  • Feeding 4,000 - he did not leave them to take care of himself & his disciples. He stayed with them and fed them. v 32 "I have compassion for these people."
"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Matthew 16:5
He's telling them to watch out for those among them - distinguish between kingdom and world - remain in the midst but distinctly different.

Who is the Son of Man? Jesus says only God can distinguish/reveal the truth - only he can separate the wheat from the weeds. Matthew 16:17)

Petros - like the mustard seed, the yeast among the large amount of flour, the treasure in the field, the pearl.

Petra - although it appears to be like the stone only bigger - it will not remain. The stone will remain. The yeast will take over the flour. The mustard seed will grow into a large tree, the small hidden treasure is secure in the ownership of the one who will keep it close to him yet still among the dirt of the field.

Is this a new perspective for you? Are you barricading yourself in for safety or living among the weeds waiting for the expertise of the Farmer to manage the weeds?

Jesus never intended his church to be built in seclusion. He intends for the stones of his church to rise up and reclaim all that belongs to the Father. But we don't reclaim territory as the world does. This blog post is too long already. You'll have to do some reading and praying to figure out your part in God's plan.

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the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

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