Thursday, December 14, 2017

Matthew 17: Mountaintops And Valleys

Matthew 17 begins with Jesus and His inner circle ascending a high mountain.  Something incredible and otherworldly is about to happen: Jesus is going to be transfigured!

We don't really have a good working definition of what it means to be transfigured.  It's not something we use in everyday speech: "President Trump was transfigured today at Camp David..." or "My New Year's Resolution is to be transfigured!"

Literally, to be "transfigured" means to be changed in appearance or shape.  We do know that these things happened:

  • Jesus physically glowed, with His face shining like the sun.
  • His clothes became dazzlingly white.
  • Moses and Elijah showed up to talk with Jesus
  • A bright cloud overshadowed them
  • A voice spoke from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased; Listen to Him!"

So impressed and awed were the disciples at these events that Peter decides he wants to camp out.  He blurts out an offer to build dwelling places for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus so they can stay.  But alas, Peter was one of the first to discover that the Christian life is not just about savoring the high places.  Mountaintop experiences are indeed wonderful, but faith is meant for the valleys below.

After His transfiguration, Jesus takes His Peter, James, and John back down the mountain.  When they reach its base they find the other disciples with a distraught crowd.  A man had brought his possessed son to them, hoping they could cure him, but they were unable to do so.  It takes the faith of Jesus to successfully help the boy and free him from his demonic oppression.

What if Jesus had granted Peter's request and stayed atop the mountain, just chillin' with Moe and Eli?  There would have been a small family at the foot of the mountain left in despair and a demon laughing in victory.  When we are tempted like Peter, to luxuriate on the mountaintops, may our consciences be pricked for the troubles in the valley that call for the strength of our faith to be shared with those in need.

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