“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”
—Matthew 16: 13-20
Immediately after Jesus warned his disciples to “…be on your guard against the yeast… [ie., the false teaching]…of the Pharisees and Sadducees”1, He took them to a third spot where spiritual deception lurked…. A place called Caesarea Philippi (aka “The Gates of Hades”), a spot believed by many to be the gateway to the underworld).
Here was a place that had for centuries attracted Greco-Roman pagan revelry… “religious” revelry raised to a fevered pitch. It was a place where the senses were stoked and glorified and where unbridled sexual appetites were indulged and gratified. It was where the goat-footed, horned God of the underworld (Pan) was honored and worshipped, where temple prostitution was part of the religious “service”, where human sacrifice was a sacred rite, and “porneia” was extolled as an exalted path to enlightenment. It was an idolatrous playground for the lustful, the “liberated”, and licentious sophisticates of the age,….the “in-touch”, the “turned-on” and the “tuned-in”.
Caesarea Philippi was the jet-set “place to be” and the best the sensate world had to offer for those “in the know”.
Here was the 1st century’s version of Hollywood, Las Vegas, the steamy brothel and the late term abortion clinic all rolled into one neat “spiritual” package. Unapologetic, sneering and leering, debauched, spiritual perversion on proud display…..
It was here, in the midst of this pagan/Dionysian darkness and deception that Jesus turned to his disciples and asked:
“But what about you?....Who do you say I am?”
To which Peter, son of Jonah, answered…..
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Beware the yeast of the Pharisees (The Law/works righteousness).
Beware the yeast of the Sadducees (The human Intellect/ spiritual compromise).
Beware the yeast of the fallen world (pleasures of the flesh…hedonism/narcissism).
Lord, Put Down This Grim Rebellion
Give us ears to hear your calling…
Help us Lord, beware the yeast,
May we one day see the Bridegroom,
At the Father’s Wedding Feast20.
"Faith is not the basis of our salvation; it is only the instrument. The foundation, the basis, of our salvation is the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf. Faith, then, is nothing but the channel by means of which the work of the Lord Jesus Christ becomes efficacious in the children of God."