Thursday, 5 January 2012

Caesarea Philippi

I found our visit to Banias an extremely interesting, and quite challenging, experience.  Close to both the Syrian and the Lebanese border and situated in the Golan Heights, this is the present name for the site that we might rather know as Caesarea Philippi. This was the place where Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was and Peter replied “you are the Christ”. It was a fascinating and moving place with the ruins of a whole range of temples representing what had been around in the time of Jesus and, in some cases, slightly more recently. It is also significant as being the site of the source of the River Jordan and the water was there.

We were led in a meditation, particularly focusing on the question – 'who is Christ for you?' And it was strongly, and helpfully, suggested that we should not dilute our answer to that question with information.  It is very easy for us to focus on information and so miss out on encounter.  We were reminded of the way in which the expectation that the disciples had of the Messiah was different from reality.  This led to misunderstanding and this led, in turn, to betrayal something - that movement of ideas can be followed by reading through the chapters of the Gospels, for example Mark chapters 8, 9 and 10.

We were able to have some time here just to reflect and wander round which was good because there were virtually no other people there for most of the time that we were there.  I found it helpful to focus on all the evidence that was around, in ruins of temples standing for a range of ideas and, with all that background, to focus on that important question that Jesus asked his first disciples in this location.

I was able to follow a path up the hill a bit and reflect in the beauty of that particular location but also thinking of the huge history that was there.  It had been suggested that it was like the Las Vegas of Jesus’s time and how interesting that Jesus had gone there to have this particular conversation with his disciples.  How ready are we to face up to the challenging questions that God asks in our day?

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