After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
– Matthew 17:1-9
“’… tell no one…’ But so many do tell what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration – their mountaintop experience. They have seen a vision and they testify to it, but there is no connection between what they say and how they live. Their lives don’t add up because the Son of Man has not yet risen in them. How long will it be before His resurrection life is formed and evident in you and in me?”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Okay, first let us look at the phrase ‘mountaintop experience.’ There was the Sermon on the Mount, but of all the times Jesus was on a mountain with His disciples, the happenings on the Mount of Transfiguration top the rest. Peter was even at a loss for words, babbling about making shelters for everybody.
But what of your Mount of Transfiguration, your mountaintop experience? Are you still there? Has the luster tarnished a bit? Could you show the Joy in your heart without faltering from then until now?
Oswald Chambers speaks to all of us, and includes himself, when he says that the moment that Jesus enters our hearts is the most significant moment in our lives, but the ‘uh, oh’ follows. We must live in this world. This world is hard to live in, especially if we profess to be Christians. But Chambers doesn’t stop there. He says that we must act like it, too.
I became a Christian in the Fall of my senior year in high school. Less than a year later, I became a team member of a Lay-Witness Team that travelled mostly through northern Mississippi to Methodist churches (not my denomination). They only let me talk in small groups and to the families that welcomed me into their homes for the weekend. Why? For one, I had not developed the ability to speak in front of large groups, but more importantly, I was new to the born-again crowd. My walk had to back up my talk. It was the leader of that Lay Witness team who, a year later, nominated me to be the youth member of an outreach mission’s board of directors. He had seen enough walking after a year of working the evangelical mission circuit.
But had I arrived? What of Oswald Chambers? The book, My Utmost for His Highest , was not published in his lifetime, but it was compiled by his family after his death. They used his lecture notes and other writings from his last years on earth to form the book. In this quote, Chambers includes himself when he says that the walk must match the talk, but oh, how long is it going to take? Chambers had already been a Christian for over half of his life by this point, but he still didn’t feel that he had arrived.
No, I have not arrived either. I am still a work in progress. Those that are quick to point out my flaws and assert my hypocrisy will quickly let anyone know that I still have many of those flaws.
My wife and I just watched Paul, Apostle of Christ, and on the way home, she said that she had so many things that she felt was lacking in her life. Areas that needed improvement. Then she said that if I just slow down my temper just a little… No violence, but I have been accused of being a bit loud, sometimes when I think I have it under control. I had to agree. We all have rough edges. We are all works under construction.
Of course, in the Scripture above, Jesus was not talking to Peter, James, and John to be mute forever. Very soon the Son of Man was to rise from the dead. Then on Pentecost, the Spirit of God would descend upon all the disciples and give them what they needed to speak.
For the disciples, now Apostles, they had a specific event that lead to their being able to ‘tell’ what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. But what of us? I like Oswald Chambers’ way of expressing it. Jesus rose from the dead about 2,000 years ago, but when does He rise within us? I could ask the same question that Oswald Chambers asked. “How long will it be before His resurrection life is formed and evident in you and in me?”
I also agree with what Chambers said before the quote above that we should spend more time in prayer and reading the Bible before we strike out to perform the Great Commission. Some of us, like I was, were students of the Bible before we were saved, but I became ravenous to read more afterward. Others, who haven’t read the Bible, may have to study even more. But all of us need to live a little. After all, when we are first saved, we are newborn-again.
I have a mountaintop experience every morning, in my basement, when I study God’s word and write.
But then I climb the stairs and the world awaits.
How will I react today? Or tomorrow?
We are saved at that moment when Jesus enters our heart. Our sins are washed away at that moment, also. But the road to full sanctification takes the rest of our lives. Sometimes, the road gets a little bumpy. It only becomes a bit smoother when we get tired of hitting potholes and we turn the steering over to Jesus. We need to do that every time the Holy Spirit guides us from one thing and leads us to something better.
And every time that happens, we get the green light to tell people about it. For now, we have a bit more of His resurrection life formed in us.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.