Banias: Peter's Confession
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds." Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
Is there a reason why this conversation occurs precisely here, in the region of Caesarea Philippi?
Three points may be relevant:
In the synoptic gospels, to which this report belongs, Jesus does not readily proclaim himself as the Messiah. Until this point in Matthew, he has not done so. After Peter acknowledges him as the Messiah and Jesus blesses him, Jesus tells the disciples not to spread this word. He goes on to describe what will happen to him in Jerusalem. The population of the area was heavily pagan. There were few Jews here. The choice of Caesarea Philippi for this conversation would appear to be connected, then, to Jesus' reticence. For some reason, he does not yet want this news to spread among his fellow Jews.
On another note: Peter's position is typical for him. Having been raised up by the blessing, almost at once he is cast down by condemnation. This kind of thing recurs often with Peter. Compare his walk on the water, followed by doubt, in Matthew 14, and later his attempt to stay near the arrested Jesus, followed by his denial (Mt. 26: 69-74).