Paneas and Sacrifice

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things that are of God, but those that are of men.”

Matthew 16:23

This is a startling and sharp rebuke to Peter. It is evidence of His emotionally humanistic conception. Because of that, Peter is aligning himself with Satan’s plan. One that would deter Jesus from fulfilling His mission. The rebuke is harsh and demonstrates to us the focus Jesus had on His mission. He was sent to die.

Peter’s fear is revealed at the thought of Jesus dying. That fear also gives an opportunity for offense. Peter stumbles. This Foundation the church is built upon is not Peter, but it is the Rock of offense. In the last post, the idea of the Rock Jesus spoke of would be Himself. Testified to previously by Peter himself.

Long after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter expounds on this theme by cutting the Tanakh.

Coming to Him as to a living stone who is rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:4–6

Peter now understands the issue clearly. Jesus is the Rock chosen by God Himself and would give the greatest sacrifice. Jesus is the Foundation the church is being built upon. Peter is one of those living stones, as is every believer. Like every believer, we are like Jesus, kings and priests working for God.

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 1:5b–6

The Acceptance of Obedience

Just as Jesus laying down His life was a spiritual sacrifice; we believers are called to do the same.

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1–2

The idea of sacrificing ourselves to the work of Jesus is the same as that of living stones in a spiritual house. Like Murray’s, or denial of ourselves comes with gifts for service to Him and others. Paul explains it this way.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sound judgment, according to the measure of faith God has distributed to every man. For just as we have many parts in one body, and not all parts have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and all are parts of one another. We have diverse gifts according to the grace that is given to us: if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; if service, in serving; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with generosity; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:3–8

Just as each stone is selected and purposefully cut to fit into the overall structure, the same is with the spiritual house (or body of Christ.) A stone crafted to be a lintel does not fit as a doorpost or wall stone. Each has a carefully crafted purpose. This is the idea, that we yield ourselves to be conformed to the purposes God has chosen for us. In this, we prove His perfection.

The Rejection of the Disobedience

For also it is contained in the Scripture, “Look! I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes in Him shall never be put to shame.”
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious. But to those who are disobedient, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, to which also they were appointed.

1 Peter 2:7–8

As believers, we will never be put to shame no matter what we may do. That is a simple truth.

The same is not valid for those who disobey and never believe. These are offended at the thought that the Anointed King would have to die. Let alone Him dying for their sins. Obedient belief is appointed to Israelis. Yet they reject it stumbling in their own disobedience.

Jesus calls all of us to a living sacrifice, just as He did. We know He died and rose again. And we can expect the same for us because of His promises.

Sacrifice at the Gates of Hell

The sacrifices offered at the Gates of Hell stood in stark contrast. The pagan gods worshipped there completely consumed the dead sacrifices offered to them.

The Grotto of Pan is a cave. It was the reason the nearby sanctuary was built. A natural spring gushed water into what is now called the Banias River. This river feeds the Jordan River. In ancient times, water entered the cave and disappeared into a deep fissure in the rock. It is estimated to have been over 800 feet deep. Subsequent seismic activity destroyed much of the features of the cave.

When a sacrifice was made, the dead carcass was thrown into the mouth of the cave. The waters carried it into the natural abyss at the back of the cave. The victim disappeared into the water. If no blood appeared in the nearby springs, the offering was thought to be accepted.

Panic and the Cure

It is fitting in this setting to speak of these things as a rich backdrop to what Jesus is saying and doing. This is the Gates of Hell, the Grotto of Pan. Pan is considered by some to be one of the first deities. He is a fertility god and is the embodiment of nature. He is also known for enticing fear with panic. The word panic is derived from his name.

Way back in the garden, the idea of death was whitewashed by the shining one (serpent.) Even was persuaded to partake of the forbidden, and in turn, gave to her husband. Something changed. They knew they were naked and covered themselves. When God called, they hid in fear. Death came to humanity, and with it came fear. Death became the bondage of Adam’s race.

Yet Adam was not supposed to know death. This bondage to death is the very thing the enemy has used to shackle people. When people are confronted with sudden death, fear and then panic take hold. The shining one brought war to God through humans. The mythologies of old subtly obscure the truth.

Jesus in rebuking Peter, hoped to shock him from panic. It was Jesus on His mission to end the war of the gods and free humanity. Jesus was going to do it by dying. His resurrection destroyed the power of death. Fear and panic are decimated. We know that by hindsight. Think of how many times the Bible tells us to not be afraid, even in the presence of God.

So then, as the children share in flesh and blood, He likewise took part in these, so that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were throughout their lives subject to bondage.

Hebrews 2:14–15

It is my opinion that the eventual devastation of this grotto is proof that God destroyed the power of death. The sacred places of the old gods are in ruins now.

That fear of death that binds no longer has power. Jesus died to give us precious respite from the justice due to us for our sins. He rose again to give us victory over sin. It is in that freedom we have an opportunity to be reconciled to God Himself.

Rest assured, though… If one dies in their sins, the destiny is everlasting perdition.


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