On The Mountain-top
Mighty and Merciful Father, Your power and love always work together for my good. Rid me of all paralyzing fears.
Read Luke 9:28-36
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
What have been the chief mountaintop experiences of your Christian life? How did you feel about them at the time, and what do you think of them now?
Luke loves to mention that Jesus prayed. He adds references to prayer at numerous points in the stories he shares with Matthew and Mark: in v. 18, for example, and again in vs. 28 and 29. It was out of Jesus’ normal practice of prayer that this visionary experience arose. And what an experience! The disciples’ sleepiness (32) symbolizes their, and our, incapacity to take in such an encounter; as creatures of earth, how can we meet heaven like this? Luke uses a dramatic word to describe Jesus’ clothes in v. 29: they were flashing like lightning, too bright to look at.
But in his sleepiness Peter wants to keep the experience–to pin it down, make it permanent. “Let’s make you each a tent, Master! So that you (and we) can all stay here together. How can we go back to ordinary life, after this?” But Moses and Elijah know better. They appeared in glory, says Luke, but were talking with Jesus about “his exodus, which he was going to fulfill in Jerusalem” (31, literal translation)–that is, his inglorious future, the rejection and torture and death, followed by resurrection, which is going to mean a whole new exodus, greater than the one Moses led. Moses and Elijah know that they’ve got to leave the mountain! Their glory depends on the journey Jesus will now take, down the mountain into the suffering, dishonor and death that lies ahead–from which Peter and his companions recoiled with horror when Jesus announced it to them (22; Mark 8:31,32). But that’s it. The way to heaven is not via the mountaintop but through the valley, along the winding road to another hill, where a cross awaits. Glorious mountaintop experiences are like Elijah’s night under the broom tree (1 Kings 19:4-8), giving strength for the long journey ahead.
How have your mountaintop experiences given you strength? Remember, and thank God for them, and pray for sufficient strength for the journey ahead today.
Lord, through all the ups and downs of life I am sure of Your presence. May my mountaintop experiences equip me for the rough-and-tumble of daily life.
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