You’ve probably read about the Transfiguration; Peter was with Jesus on top of a mountain when “…the appearance of his [Jesus’] face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning” and “Moses and Elijah appeared in glorious splendor.” It was an amazing moment, and Peter didn’t want to leave.
“As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah (He did not know what he was saying.) (Luke 9:33, NIV).”
No one can blame Peter for wanting to stay, can they? We get the phrase “mountain top” experience from this story…and we all love mountain top experiences.
We’ve all had mountain top experiences where we felt the presence and glory of God—and we didn’t want to leave. Like Peter, we wanted to camp out there.
But in life it’s not all mountain tops. There are valleys. There are sometimes rivers or deserts to cross. And of course there’s the mountain itself to climb. We wish we could stay at the top.
There’s another reason Peter wanted to stay, I think. Luke writes: “The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him (Luke 9:37).” As you keep reading they met a man with a sick child…then Jesus prophesied his own betrayal. Immediately after that the disciples got into an argument. Right after that their group was rejected by the Samaritans. No wonder Peter didn’t want to go back to that!
On the mountain top everything is great. We feel close to God up there. We enjoy the view. But we instinctively know what’s awaiting us at our descent. Down in the real world it’s responsibility, needy people, disappointment, personality conflicts and prejudice. Ugh!
Unlike Peter, Jesus was prepared for the descent. Luke tells us Moses and Elijah spoke to him about his “departure” and looming crucifixion (see 9:31). I think that’s the key. The mountain top is a great respite, but it isn’t an escape. The mountain top is the place God uses to prepare us for the real world.
So don’t think of church attendance or your quiet time in the morning as hiding from the world; you’re getting ready to engage it because in the real world you’ll have challenges and worries. We need to climb down the mountain energized and prepared to take on that world.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit New Life’s website: www.NewLifeDenton.org for more information.