The passage usually focuses on 'Who do you say I am?' and swiftly and effortlessly Peter confesses Jesus as 'Messiah.'
This is Caesarea Philippi. This is the town who's name was changed by Philip to honour Caerar, the god-man. This is the town that was the centre of the worship of Pan, the goat-god (who was born nearby in a cave that was called 'the gates of hell'. So right in the heart of the cultic centre of Pan-ism and right in the heart of a city dedicated to Caesar, a self-proclaimed god, Peter daringly, with all these symbols and culture of these other gods, confessed Jesus 'Messiah'.
Then Jesus says, on you I'll built my church and the gates of hell won't prevail against it as over his shoulder that cave Pan was born in, tries to get a look in.
It's a brave moment full of strong imagery, not hidden away but out in the open. This place, Caesarea Philippi, the centre of Pan, this is the mission field, this is what it is like, the place where the rock is to be found. Jesus was offering an experience of what it as really going to be like for people of faith to stand steady, rock-solid in the world of so man y strong and prevailing influences.
In the midst of this, on Sunday, we serve communion for all ages. Any hymn suggestions, or better, how might this passage be read in church so it is heard better?