Read: Matthew 16:13-23
On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (v. 18)
Sixty years ago, Elisabeth’s worst fear came true. While waiting to hear about her husband’s missionary activities for that day, she was instead met with radio silence. Hours later, she received word that her husband and his friends had been killed. The story of Elisabeth Elliot and these five American missionaries slain in Ecuador by the people they were trying to reach with the gospel is well-known today. Though both brutal and tragic, the deaths of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Peter Fleming have been the catalyst for galvanizing many Christians to share the gospel.
In Matthew 16, Jesus reveals his upcoming death to his disciples. This news upsets them. They expect Jesus to lead them into battle to defeat the oppressive Roman government. Peter is especially distressed, but Jesus urges him not to panic. He explains that his death is part of a larger plan. Death will try to lock Jesus in the grave, but he will burst open the gates of hell, snatch the keys, and overcome death. Under Peter’s leadership, the disciples will spread the news about Jesus’ resurrection and people all over the world will follow Christ.
Christ is still alive! Like the early disciples, today’s church must continue spreading the good news of Jesus around the world. Because he defeated the grave (Rev. 1:18), those of us who follow him will also live forever with him. —Ericka Loynes
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for victory over death.