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Transfiguration of Christ - Life On The Mountain With Jesus
Glory on the Mountain
Driving In Smoky Mountains
Back Seat Driving
As a child, being raised in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee, I enjoyed the hills but saw nothing special about the going to the mountains. It was OK once we arrived, and it was nice to wade in the mountain streams near Townsend, but my sister and I had to ride in the backseat on those winding roads while Mom and Dad enjoyed the scenery from the front. The trip seemed like such a waste of time. Now that I’ve achieved some gray hair, I better understand the beauty of nature and the fortunes of my raising, and I know the benefits of riding up front! How beautiful it is to be with family in the mountains!
Likewise, what a waste it might seem to “backseat riders” in the Scriptures. For my example, Jesus takes His three favorite disciples to the mountain for a little retreat.
Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart.
A backseat rider to the Bible might say, “This seems like such a waste of time! The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and Jesus takes these disciples on a rhapsodic retreat. This is not just a waste of time; it is void of meaning!”
On the other hand, those of us who have traveled with Christ over the longer rides of our lives know that every mountain has more than a new adventure; somewhere in the journey there is a new life lesson, a greater splendid scenery than you can appreciate; you just need to move from your backseat to the front. I am speaking of spiritual growth.
Amazon on the Transfiguration
Discipleship and the Mountain
Discipleship means a better appreciation for the mountain top experiences in Christ. In my Scripture portrait Jesus is taking Peter, James and John up the apex of Mount Hermon. Picture the prettiness of the panorama of the mountain, see the plain and valley below, envision the river streams, and gaze your eyes to where the sky and the land meet. All that natural beauty, but yet there is still more. The magnificence of the peaks may shock and awe the senses, and the scenery of the experience may appear breathtaking, but there is always something extra that I can take with me from the mountain – there is something that can change my life.
Peter, James and John are forced to see beyond the sky-line. They are now looking across the great divide into eternity. They are moved from the back to the front seat of a journey into the dawn of revelation. As they peer through the glass in their journey, they see Jesus. A strange aura fills the air as his appearance transforms in a way they had never seen. His form and features are the same, but His radiance grows like a new star being born in the celestials. This is no place for a backseat rider; for His vestige becomes like looking into the morning sunrise. This transfiguration causes even His very garments to shimmer and shine with his grand brightness.
(As I rehearse what this vision is like, I realize that it is like no trip to the mountains that I have taken. However, now when my family goes, and we see the transforming of the fall leaves and the radiant beauty of nature, I am reminded of what God can do in all our lives if we allow Him to move us in our journey.)
It is on this Mount Hermon that they are taken beyond the hills and valleys to the summit where the essential glory of Jesus shines out, and suddenly in that shining they see even more. Moses and Elias appear talking with Christ; now, what a far more beautiful sight is this heavenly family get-together. Praise God for mountain tops!
My hearts yearns for what Peter feels. This is far from a waste of time, and it is even farther from a meaningless retreat. Peter is overwhelmed; he feels he must say something. Like a child whose eyes have been opened to something new and grand and beyond words, he stutters and blurts the first thing that comes to his mind.
(I loosely paraphrase) “It is good to be here! Let us throw up three tents. Let us make this picnic last forever. Let us just stay here! I don’t want to ever leave this mountain – forget the plain and the valley!”
I believe my paraphrase catches part of the essence of what Peter is feeling. I can say I feel a little of this every time I travel to those mountaintop times with the Lord. I remember wishing the night that I came to Jesus (in a revival service in Alcoa, Tennessee, as a seventh grade kid) would last forever. Let that picnic go on forever. Alas, I can’t stay on the mountain, but there is something about the nature of the Mount that stays with me through every valley and plain!
Peter, James and John feel this. Peter makes child-like conversation. Sin is still in the valley; there is much unfinished work; but for the present time they are in the front seat of a life changing voyage to see God’s glory. Then a voice from above says “This is my beloved son. Hear him." Suddenly the picture dissolves. The voice is silent. Moses and Elias have disappeared, and "they see no man save Jesus only."
The View of Mount Hermon
God of the Mountain - Beautiful Song
Mesage of the Mountain
This is the story of the transfiguration. Those of you backseat observers may wonder what earthly value there is in such an adventure. I must admit that there is a kind of religion that never gets beyond the picnic stage. You see, the trip was not for the picnic; it was not for the scenery of Mount Hermon; it was not just to get away; it was not just to let these three know they were special and to show them something hidden to the back seatters! The trip is to see Jesus; it is to see Jesus in His glory; the glory of His place in the past (Moses and Elias); the glory of His place in the present (“This is My beloved Son”); the glory of His place in the future (He is and shall always be God of the mountain and of the valley)! The trip is to see Jesus; it is to see Jesus transfigured from earthly glory to heavenly glory and back again to remind us that we are also changed from glory to glory. The trip is to see Jesus; it is to see Jesus as the mountain – that summit of our life Who stays with us even when we are alone in the valley; in the loneliness of valley He is with us and we fear no evil!
God gives the mountains in our Christian journey, but sometimes all we want is the picnic. I cannot always stay on the mountain, but the mountain holds secrets that always stay with me if I take the time to observe Christ in His glory. I am speaking of spiritual growth.
The transfiguration is preparation. While it transpires on the mountain-top, a very different landscape is enacting itself in the valley. While Christ's face shines with a heavenly light, while Moses and Elias are talking about Calvary, while Peter is making extraneous remarks, while the voice in the cloud is certifying Christ's divine linage, - others are down there at the foot of the mountain, with problems, with calamity and with impending death. Their vantage is far different.
Have you been on the mountain-top with Him? I know that many are waiting for you in the valley, but Jesus is changing people’s lives who come to Him now! The transforming I learn from the mount is more than a vision; it is an experience; more than a memory; it is what God means every day to me!