“Can you pray for the confusion in my head,” Justin asked. “I have this battle in my mind that I keep losing.” He pointed to his forearms and showed me the heroin tracks running up and down each arm. This was his third time in jail as a 23 year old and he was waiting yet another date in court. Justin wanted to be free of the bondage to heroin but he knew all too well that the moment he got out of jail he would find himself with a hit a mere two blocks from this place.
This desperate plea of Justin brought me back to Israel and the groundbreaking place of Caesarea Philippi. At this location Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say I am?” Peter boldly proclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” A few verses later Jesus responds to the Peter saying, “…on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it,” (Mt. 16:15-18).
The “gates of Hades” are not just physical gates but spiritual gates, which are holding Justin in bondage. Satan, “the father of lies,” has convinced him that his only hope for the agony within his soul is heroin. Yet, Jesus makes a promise…He came to storm the gates of hell, to liberate the captives, to give freedom so that we can walk in the love of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Caesarea Philippi was known as a cultic worship center to the god Pan. Pan controlled Hades, the underworld, and had the power to take souls captive. Unbelievably horrible things occurred at this place. And yet, here is this utterly dark place is where Jesus chose to declare He would crash the Gates of Hell and release the captives. I can just imagine Jesus shaking His fists at the shrines on the side of the mountain where the sights and sounds of Pan worship were all too common.
Oh, there are so many “Justin’s” today-held captives to the lies of satan-who is hell bent on keeping as many as possible living a life of destruction. Jesus lays out an alternative in Matthew 16:13-28. Jesus’s strategy includes four key points, points that will empower His followers to crash the Gates of Hell. To do so we need: A Heartfelt Confession, a Holy Community, Heaven’s Gospel Call, and Healthy Cross-feet. Over the next few weeks we will look at these four keys which enable followers of Christ to crash the gates of hell and liberate beloved children of God.
My recent encounter with Justin in jail brought me back to the promise of Jesus in Matthew 16. Jesus came to crash the gates of hell and empower a community of disciples who are willing to follow Him into the darkest places with the LIGHT of His message of TRUTH. I believe the Holy Spirit is reviving the TRUTH from this passage and preparing a people who will victoriously crash the gates of hell, not in their own power, but in the power of King Jesus. Will you join me as together we seek to live into the promises of this text and expand His kingdom so that every square inch of this world is filled with HIS GLORY.