The Life and Teaching Of Jesus – Part 22 – Mountains and Valleys

The Mountains and the Valleys. (Mark 9:1-13)

Most people would agree that life has it high points and it low points, there are good times and not so good times. There are mountains and there are valleys. We all want to remember the special mountain top moments in life. Leaving school or graduating university, a new job, or a new career. Engagement, Marriage, the birth of a child. Life however is not just one mountain peak after another, because there are also valleys. Valleys are those difficult moments that you would like to forget, but they range from the loss of a job or the breakup of a marriage or perhaps even the death of a family member. The life of faith also has it highs and lows. There are some very valuable lessons to learn as we reach the mountains top, but there is just as much to learned in the valleys if we choose to approach them in the right ways.

When considering these matter, the opening of Mark chapter 9 is a helpful passage of scripture where we will witness the disciples going from a mountain top experience (A real spiritual high point) to within a few verses going down into a deep valley. The way they responded to these events may well help us know how to handle our own mountain tops and our valleys.

Lets start with the mountain top. (Mark 9: 1) is a powerful opening statement. Most bible scholars agree this is describing what is just about to happen six days later, in the very next verses. The “some” he mentioned as we will discover are not all of the disciple but just three who are specially selected. In (Mark 9 2-3) Jesus here is described transformed into something more than the figure of a man. His clothes become a shiny translucent heavenly white. He is being transformed so he appears as he will be in glory not veiled in flesh as he walked the earth. Then Elijah and Moses, appear before them and are talking with Jesus. (Mark 9: 4) Most agree they are there as the great historical representatives of  God’s salvation history prior to the incarnation. The law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) Jesus is transformed into his heavenly state, and Moses and Elijah are there to verify it, and just three disciple witness it. If that isn't a mountain top experience I don’t know what is.  It certainly was for Peter who in the next verse blurts out (Mark 9: 5) ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Implied in this phrase Peter is saying, let’s stay here and celebrate, lets set up home here for a while, just like at the feast of Booths, whereby you set up a temporary home.

The next verses (Mark 9: 7-8)  We not only have seen Jesus transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear, but now we hear God himself speak from Heaven. “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him”! If ever anything was a spiritual mountain top experience, then this is it. The disciples seemed to experience one spiritual high after another. They saw him calm the storm and feed the hungry. They saw him heal the sick and drive out demons. They saw him raise the dead, and most importantly forgive sin. They had seen Him deal with the three great enemies of mortal human beings.  He had shown power over sickness, power over nature, and power of evil. One high point after another. Years after this event Peter wrote a book of the bible we call, Second Peter, and in it he reminds the people that this in no fable, in fact they were eyewitnesses to His majesty. Over 30 years later Peter is saying we had a mountain top experience back then and what I learned that day is that Christ is coming again, and that second coming is not a fable. (2 Peter 1: 16-17 NKJV) Peter is declaring that on that day he saw Jesus as he will appear when he comes in majesty a second time.

In (Mark 9:9) We have seen Jesus say, “don’t tell anyone”. However, this time his request is different, because this is the first time he qualifies his statement, don’t tell anyone he says, “until the Son of Man has risen from the dead”. This time limit means this injunction is temporary. Most commentators believe Mention of Elijah having come is a reference to John the Baptist coming in the Spirit of Elijah. (Mark 9: 11-13) Remember, John the Baptist, was killed like the prophets before him and like they are also going to kill Jesus. They have been on a mountain and they come down from the mountain and that find themselves entering the valley and for them the valley is going to be a long deep one. They will watch Jesus get betrayed, arrested, publicly beaten and condemned, executed in the most painful shameful way known to man at that time He told them specifically that was how it was going to be when he said, “that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected. Usually when people find themselves in a low, they ask the wrong questions. They ask, why me, instead of, what do I need to learn from this? It’s a very very short step, from why me, to woe is me. The mountain top experience should give us a new perspective, and the lows should teach us provided we are asking the right questions and listening to the Lord.

One final observation. There is something to be gained in both the highs and lows of life. The problem is we want to stay on the mountain top. We are meant to take what we have learned up there and bring it down and apply it in the rest of our life journey. This new perspective that flash of insight, something you have already known but it just grabs you again is there to help you through the rest of life’s journey. Life is not primarily lived on the mountain tops for the disciple this mountain top was very high and very brief, but the valley was long and got deeper and deeper ending with Jesus being crucified. Our understanding that God loves us is a mountain top experience. Answers to prayer are mountain top experiences. God blessing us spiritually and materially are mountain top experiences. However, when you go through the valley, don’t forget what the Lord did for you on Calvary’s Hill.

Let’s Pray.

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Mountains and Valleys

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