Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
and he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
It comes right after Christ predicts in Caesarea Philippi
his coming death on the Cross and Resurrection, and he states that this is the way of discipleship.
It is only in hindsight that this scene at Caesarea Philippi
becomes important as the church emerges from its early roots in Palestine to become Christendom.
And although it is difficult to ascertain precisely where the carving took place and how and in what state the sculptures entered the region (fully carved, partially carved, or as uncarved blocks), the geographic proximity of Caesarea Philippi
to Tyre made this port city and the Tyre-Damascus road the most efficient route for the sculptures' importation.
It was when Our Lord took Saint Peter, the first Pope, to Caesarea Philippi
, where there is a large rock formation.
The passion predictions that flank this reading, along with the questioning of the disciples at Caesarea Philippi
, make it clear that we are pointing toward Jerusalem and the cross.
On this Sunday when the Gospel asks us about the true identity of Jesus, we find ourselves transported with the disciples to the road leading to the villages around Caesarea Philippi
. Jesus asks them: "Who do you say that I am" (Mk 8:29).The moment he chose to ask this question is not insignificant.
begins by showing how Mark (Peter at Caesarea Philippi
, Mk 8:27-33), John (Martha and Mary at Bethany, Jn 11:17-27), and Paul (hymn to Jesus, Phil 2:6-11) make clear the strong connection between Christology and discipleship, while Jesus' response to his interrogation by the disciples of John the Baptist, "Are you the one who is to come?" (Lk 7:18-23), shows that these practices are indeed those of the one who is himself the autobasileia, the reign of God in person.
From here we made visits to Mount Tabor, Nazareth, Cana, Caesarea Philippi
,with an unforgettable day on and around the Sea of Galilee.
Peter confesses, "You are the Messiah" (Matthew 16:16) in Caesarea Philippi
, a fertile area critical to the Roman Empire's control of Palestine.
It plays a much greater part in the body of the Gospel than is often allowed, for it is to the fore in the Nazareth speech, present at Caesarea Philippi
and the Transfiguration, expressed in the journey to Jerusalem, and prominent in the passion narrative.
My favorite scripture passage took on new meaning when, a couple of years ago, I was walking along the cliffs and caves of northern Israel in the area of Caesarea Philippi
. Jesus and his followers walked along those same caves one day.