Once in a while, one picture says it all.
When Susan Ring visited the Gates of Hades, photographer Julia Chin caught her just as Susan caught the impact of this location on one of the most familiar passages in the Bible.
Matthew 16 refers to it as Caesarea Philippi. Most of history has called it Banias.
You could simply call it evil incarnate.
Every time you hear the word “panic,” “pandemonium,” or “pandemic,” you’re paying your respects to how people felt about the worship of Pan. He was half goat, half man and all evil. Children were sacrificed here. Screams split the night here. Sexual orgies were designed to lure the gods out of Hades. The big hole in the cliff was believed to be the entrance to the underworld.
Thus, the “Gates of Hades.”
Jesus went there. It was in front of this pagan backdrop where he claimed he would build his church. It was here where Peter confessed Jesus as the long-awaited Christ, only to instantly be rebuked when he tried to deter Jesus from the cross.
Jesus didn’t go to such a place hoping to inspire you to build a new Fellowship Hall. Jesus didn’t make Peter the leader of the new movement so you could hide in your church and never engage in real ministry.
Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi so people trapped in a frightening culture could discover hope. He went there to love on people. He went there so his disciples would understand that he meant for them to go to such places, too.
If that frightens you? Don’t worry. Not even the evil of the Gates of Hades will prevail against you!
If you can ever make it to Israel, get up to Banias and see it for yourself. Maybe you’ll be impacted the way Susan was when she read the story in that environment.
In the meantime, read the story again right where you are.
And then take the love of Jesus to the people who need to know that God loves them.