A favorite place to visit while in Israel is Caesarea Philippi. It is located at the head waters of the Jordan River and is lush and beautiful; it is also where Jesus taught that His Kingdom will take over the world.
At this place Jesus asked His disciples, (Mt. 16:17-18), “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Notice Jesus glorious response:
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church (Ekklesia), and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
This is the place where Jesus chose to reveal the divine conspiracy or how the world would be transformed the world seems out of place. After all, Caesarea Philippi can be likened to Las Vegas. The city reeked of wickedness even as far back to the days when King Jeroboam set up an alternative worship sight to the temple of Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day temples were dedicated to the worship of Caesar as well one for the pagan gods of the underworld, where demonic rituals were performed.
It is at THIS precise location that Jesus declares: that those who confess Jesus as the Christ, the promised Savior of the world, and follow Him as disciples will storm the darkest gates of hell and set captives free. This will be accomplished by declaring the good news by means of a crucified Savior, He would be the One to break the strongholds of satan and sin, and He would be the One raised from the dead and bring Heaven’s reign to earth through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Recently I read Ekklesia written by Ed Silvoso. In the book Silvoso discusses Jesus’s choice of the word Ekklesia when referring to the church. Why not the word temple or synagogue? What is the significance of the word Ekklesia and destroying the gates of hell? Why did Jesus choose Ekklesia, a word rich in Greek culture? It is important to note that His disciples would have clearly understood the difference in meaning of the words and their religious significance.
In those days whenever 2 or 3 Romans gathered anywhere in the world it was an official meeting of Rome. Ekklesia, was a common word used in the business marketplace. So when Jesus uses this word it is referring to 2 or 3 Christ followers gathered together, and when this occurs His presence, a powerful force, is also present, (Mt. 18:20). The point is clear: discipleship happens around the kitchen table, in the coffee shop, the workplace, the sports field, government offices, the most pagan and darkest places. Ekklesia is a call for Christ followers to take Jesus to the marketplace, wherever life happens.
Covid may have disrupted the consistent gathering of the church in a physical building, but the call for Ekklesia has not been deterred. Just as Jesus challenged His disciples at Caesarea Philippi each one of us can be apart of Ekklesia to regroup, unite, and be sent out again into the market place and crash the gates of Hell for the glory of God the Father and His victorious Son Jesus. We can bring the Ekklesia to the darkest parts of our culture.
I encourage you to take time to build relationships of love with those you come into contact. Take time to listen, enjoy a meal, fellowship and watch for an opportunity to bring His Kingdom in through healing prayer and the Gospel message.