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  • Pastor Tom Cunningham

A MOMENT ON THE MOUNTAINTOP

Updated: Apr 25

—and a couple more in the valley...

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:28-36

"Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tabernacles, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he what saying. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. Luke 9:28-36

We all have had mountaintop experiences—times when we have felt like we were on top of the world. Perhaps you had a mountaintop experience when your children were born, when you were married—or when you received a special blessing from God. Maybe you remember competing for the prize, that moment when you won that trophy, that plaque, that first place—you were on top of the world. Nothing could bring you down. Maybe your mountaintop experience occurred as you sat quietly in prayer—basking in the presence of God. Maybe God has brought you to a mountain top where you felt He was so close that you could almost reach out and touch him!

It wouldn't have been any different for the the three disciples on this awe-inspiring occasion. The mountaintop must have been glorious. They wanted to stay—to stay and take in all that they had seen. All that they had heard. And many times we as Christians want that mountain top experience in our faith—in our lives, like all the time! We want that glorious feeling of being that close to God. Some even demand it. And sadly others try to make those who do not have that experience feel guilty! We like the highs … we avoid the lows. Many are being made to feel that if their lives—or the lives of those around them are not always glorious, then something is wrong with their faith. As if there is something wrong with them if they are not on top—all the time! This theology of glory says that if you are not healthy, wealthy and feeling good because of Jesus then something is wrong—either with you or your faith. 'If you are really with Jesus', they drum on, 'everything is good, great and glorious'.

Not your experience? Maybe, because it's not real life! And Jesus didn't see it that way either...

After the experience on the mountain, what did Jesus do? He went down the mountain and set His face toward Jerusalem. They came off the mountain and they came right down to the bottom of the valley. They came off the mountaintop only to find a boy who was having epileptic seizures. The mother and father were enormously upset and worried about their desperately sick boy The little boy fell into a fire and burned himself. In other words, the disciples came down off that mountaintop right into the problems of real life. They had definitely set their eyes to the future, got a glimpse of eternity and held a moment of glory in their hands. The Apostle Paul encourages Timothy {1 Timothy 6:12} to "Take hold of eternal life..." — live your faith with eternity as the ultimate prize, but "fight the good fight of faith!" It's home from a mountaintop vacation and into the real world. But, the amazing thing is, the disciples discovered that God is also down in the valley and does not dwell only or even primarily on the mountaintop. Jesus understood the need for the mountain top, but the real work of the harvest is in the valley.

On that hill called Calvary, Jesus felt and experienced the human condition in all of its brutality. He knew the depth of suffering, of human suffering, of our suffering. He knew the guilt, the anguish, the despairs that come with living this life. He knew it and felt it all on that cross—and through the resurrection, he conquered it all—for us.

Jesus went to the mountain to be transfigured, but came down from the mountain to be a savior. He calls us to have a relationship with him, but then to come down into the human condition to minister to those around us with love and compassion.

We are surrounded by a great cloud, a throng of witnesses who are cheering us on. Who is in that crowd, watching us and cheering us on? They include those that have been faithful—those that have already finished the race. It is those who have learned from the moment on the mountain, to 'lay aside every weight', to take that moment on the mountaintop and use it to fill the valleys — to sustain them in real, everyday life!

Mountain top experiences are great, but living, working, helping, loving in the valleys is where Christ wants us to be.

We experience the valleys of life. We both know what happens the next day coming down from the mountain. It is the real world and the real life. After the Sundays of life—there are always Mondays. You know—the tough times—and God is with us there too. His rivers of living waters are flowing from the Transfiguration above to wear we are laboring with our sleeves up and our hearts full.

Let Him show Himself in your valley as well.


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