Jesus led His disciples up the mountain and crowds followed. He shared with them a profound exposition of what it means to be a disciple (Matthew 5, 6 & 7). The notion of blessing was turned on its head. The true depths of the Old Covenant law were exposed as heart issues. He taught of secretly helping the needy, privately praying and not flaunting personal acts of self-discipline. God sees in secret. Even His closing remarks opened up the reality of the challenges of true discipleship that few will meet. It is a matter of taking the Lord at His word and living it out. Any other lifestyle will ultimately crumble. It was a true mountain-top experience, and the people were amazed.
The mountains have been special places throughout biblical history. Noah’s ark came to rest on a mountain following the flood (Genesis 8:4). The ten commandments were delivered in a remarkable demonstration of the power of the Lord on a mountain (Exodus 19:18-20:18). Moses gave instructions for both blessings and curses to be proclaimed from mountains (Deuteronomy 27:12-13), and Joshua carried out those orders exactly as they had been written (Joshua 8:30-35). The mountain-top has always been a special place.
Jesus led Peter, James and John to a mountain for an experience that they would never forget (Matthew 17:1-8). They saw the Lord in dazzling splendor with Moses and Elijah who had lived so long before. Peter was so taken by what he saw that he wanted to build something to mark the occasion. That is when the voice from heaven spoke. The message was clear and surely etched indelibly in their minds. Listen to my Son. Then comes verse 9: They came down the mountain.
Life is not lived on the mountain-top. It is lived in the valley where sin resides. They came down to find a father in despair over the pitiful condition of his son, and the disciples had been powerless to help. It was a faith problem (Verses 19-20). It took enough faith to pray for the problem to be solved and the boy to be cured. Faith, or lack of it, was the issue in the valley of despair. It still is.
Occasionally we have our own mountain-top experiences. It is not a miraculous time but one of keener insight and a feeling of being closer to God, alone with our Creator and it lifts our sagging spirits and fortifies our souls. But then comes the trudge down that mountain and into the sin-ravaged world in which we feel powerless. It is a genuine test of our faith. The Lord is the only hope for the hopeless and the only cure for the sick. Jesus posed the question when talking about prayer, “…when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?” Well, will He? Faith enough to pray?