Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

A reminder to the Church : The gates of hell shall not prevail

July 22, 2014

Matthew 16--16

Matthew 16:15-16 (NLT) provide the Verse of the Day for July 22, 2015 which is modified and re-posted from a year ago :

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

This exchange between Peter and the Lord Jesus Christ brought to mind a scene from The Bible, the popular mini-series featured on the History Channel two years ago. In the fourth of five 2-hour episodes, the focal point was Jesus Christ and his earthly ministry. Viewers gained a glimpse into the heart of the Savior through his words and deeds, as he taught his disciples and others through parables and words of wisdom spoken in the Sermon on the Mount and other occasions.

The film unfolded in a moving encounter between Jesus and Peter where Jesus asked him, “Who do men say that I am?” When Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God,” the Master commended him by stating, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this unto you, but my Father which is in heaven. And I also tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”(Matthew 16:17-18)

Most providentially around the same time that the Bible was being watched by millions of viewers, an ancient entryway, a portal labeled “Gate to Hell” or “Pluto’s Gate” was being excavated in southwestern Turkey. What follows is an excerpt from an Examiner.com article posted on April 14, 2013:

An ancient entryway, a portal labeled “Gate to Hell” or “Pluto’s Gate,” has been excavated in southwestern Turkey, according to Fox News. Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento, and a team of archaeologists confirmed the location near the ancient city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, a place known even today for its warm mineral springs believed to have healing properties.

The portal was discovered “by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring” to the cave where D’Andria was also able to identify the ruins of a temple, pool, and steps — from which pagan pilgrims would watch sacred rites performed at the portal’s opening known as the Plutonion in Greek or Plutonium in Latin. The opening of the cave emitted toxic fumes which ancient Greek geographer Strabo described: “Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.” D’Andria has conducted extensive archaeological research at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis.

Hierapolis in the Bible

The only reference occurs when Paul speaks of Hierapolis in Colossians 4:12-13, indicating that there was a group of believers who lived in the city, for whom Epaphras, a servant of Christ, was always laboring fervently in prayer, not only for the followers of Christ at Colosse, but he was also zealous for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis, the location of the “Gate of Hell.”

SacredDestinations.com reports that Hierapolis had a significant Jewish population in ancient times, pointing out various inscriptions on tombs and elsewhere in the city. Jews also are named as members of the various craft guilds of the city. This was probably the basis for the Christian conversion of some residents of Hierapolis, that Paul referenced Colossians 4:13.

In the 5th century, in the midst of rampant paganism in Hierapolis, several churches were built. The hostile environment, however, contributed to the deaths of a sizeable number of Christians who sacrificed their lives for their faith. In addition to his unearthing the “Gate of Hell,” Italian archaeologist D’Andria in an earlier excavation reportedly located the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, on what has become known as “Martyrs’ Hill.”

E.J. Banks notes:

“Several of the early Christians suffered martyrdom at Hierapolis, yet Christianity flourished, other churches were built, and during the 4th century the Christians filled the Plutonium with stones, thus giving evidence that the paganism had been entirely supplanted by the church.”

The excavation of the “Gate to Hell” at Hierapolis and the subsequent demise of that ancient stronghold of demonic activity brought to mind the words of Jesus to Peter: “. . . upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Indeed, this is one “Gate of Hell” that the Church prevailed against and brought to ruins.

To reinforce this truth regarding the Church of Jesus Christ, Steve Eager offers a stirring rendition of “The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail.”

I am the vine: Yet another metaphor

December 9, 2013

John-15-5

The Verse of the Day for December 9, 2013 offers yet another metaphor used by Jesus Christ to help his followers understand who he is and who he is called to be:

John 15:5, 8:

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

This particular metaphor used by Jesus relates to a parable where he uses this comparison:

 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

This reference relates to the parable of the vinedresser, the vine, the branches and the fruit. That is, it explained how the Twelve were to produce a spiritual harvest for God.

John 15:1-8 records how Jesus, during the evening when he was betrayed and captured, said to the eleven apostles who remained at the table with him (Judas had departed and gone to betray the Lord), that his Father was a “vinedresser” (grape farmer), or “husbandman” as some translations have it, and that he, Jesus, was “the true vine”, and that those apostles were “branches” who were attached to Jesus, the Vine. In order to be fruitful the branches must “abide” in the vine. When the branches remain intact with the vine, God is glorified as the branches bear much fruit.

The following photo shows a fruitful vine from a vineyard that illustrates the parable where Jesus describes himself as “the true vine.”

Grapes

John Michael Talbot has composed a musical rendering of this passage performed here by Jon Mulkey:

 

 

Jesus Christ: The burden bearer

October 23, 2013

Galatians_6-2This particular blog entry was originally posted two years ago, and it is revised and re-posted below:

Taken from Galatians 6:2 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for October 23, 2015 expresses the idea that there is a burden that we can share:

Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].

Carry-burdensIf we see a brother or sister fall under a heavy burden, we can come along side of them and offer assistance in bearing that burden. There is, however, a burden that every believer must bear alone. This truth is revealed in Galatians 6:5 which indicates: “For every man shall bear his own burden.”

In thinking on these two verses, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975.  During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.

On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that the load for everyone was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he gladly bore for me.  As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrived at our destination in a short time. That experience was the inspiration for this poem:

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,

When I lay my burden down.

I stumbled up the rugged road;

I almost fell beneath the load

And spurned the pain inside my head,

Recalling words of one who said

Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

 

The yoke I bear cannot compare

With all he took upon Himself:

All sins, disease, and guilt, despair

That I could not forebear myself.

His burden was not made of wood,

His cross beyond all words can name.

Have I resisted unto blood?

Could I for joy endure such shame?

From a glimpse into his face

I’m strengthened by a second wind;

My mind’s renewed to keep the pace

The load is lightened by my friend.

 

I feel better, so much better

since I laid my burden down.

The epigraph or short intro to the poem as well as the closing stanza are lyrics from an old gospel song that I so vividly recall my childhood days, recorded here by the Staple Singers.

I am so glad that Jesus Christ is our “Burden Bearer.”