This week I was confronted with a text that I saw completely differently. One I have heard a hundred times but this time I heard it totally differently. Jesus was with His disciples on the mountain and he asked them who do you think I am, and they say he is the Christ (or Messiah). His next words are what caught me off guard.
The gates of hell shall not prevail against it…I have to tell you I think we all miss the point of this text. At least many of us Christians read over this and think of it backwards. We think of the Church and her people as group in a big castle in need of protection. We need protection from the world, others who think differently, or even Satan himself who is coming after us. What if that wasn’t the point? Are you are reading in backwards? The text doesn’t say the gates of heaven will keep us safe or the gates of heaven will prevail against all attacks.
It says the gates of hell will not prevail against Jesus. Here is the thing. This text assumes that God’s people are on the offensive. Jesus isn’t saying stay safe and I will keep you safe. He is telling us over and over go on the offensive with Him in the lead. In fact he tells us He is Messiah, and will overcome the gates of hell. When we as God’s people proclaim Jesus in our world the gates of hell cannot stand against that onslaught of faith. We as God’s people are called to go and proclaim that he is Messiah and as we proclaim this truth the gates of hell, where our friends and family are being held, cannot be held up. Satan’s power of this world cannot prevail against Jesus’ attacks on him.
Maybe as you are going about your day you have thought about your life as being a place under attack maybe today you can refocus on seeing Jesus as going to battle for you. The gates of hell will not prevail against his attacks. He was defeated on the cross and will be fully defeated when Jesus comes again!
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[b] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[c] shall not prevail against it.Matthew 16:13-18 ESV