Summary: Why God gives us Mountaintop Spiritual Experiences--to be remembered as we go through the valleys of life.
Eye-witness to the Messiah
An Unforgettable Mountain-Top Experience
Did you know that a bad memory can be one of the greatest weaknesses in your spiritual life?
It has been for me on at least two occasions, and probably more than I can remember—remember, I have a bad memory!
For instance, just a couple of weeks ago, I found an old piece of paper that amounted to a journal entry from nearly 25 years ago. In it I found a message from God—a thought I was sure came to me from God because it was not part of my own thinking process and was not something I had suspected. Nevertheless, it came as an answer to a direct question I had asked in prayer. It was very relevant to my life then and again now.
And you know what I had written about it? "This is something I'll never ever forget." And yet I had totally forgotten about it until I was reminded by reading this journal entry. And it was very relevant to my life even now.
It not only happened with regard to this, it had previously happened regarding to my supernatural call to ministry 46 years ago. I had not so much forgotten it as disregarded in unbelief, when God had to supernaturally remind me of it about 20 years ago—at a point I desperately needed to remember it.
Sometimes God gives us experiences which He deliberately designs so that we will never forget them. Sometimes we call them mountain-top experiences. I define a mountain-top spiritual experience as an encounter with the manifest presence of God in which God directs you regarding His plan and purpose for your life.
This morning we come to one of those experiences in three of the disciples lives—The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
Now I don't know about you, but when I come to a passage like this, I find myself asking the question "Why?" Why did this happen for these disciples, and why did it happen at this point in their lives? Well, I have an answer this morning. I believe it was designed to be an unforgettable mountain-top spiritual experience for these disciples which they would remember when they were in the low-points, or the spiritual and emotional valleys of their lives.
And that's our spiritual lesson this morning. If you've had a mountain-top spiritual experience, remember mountain top experiences to keep following Christ through the deep valleys of life. Or if you haven't had a mountain-top experience, borrow this one from the disciples, and remember it so that you will keep following Christ through those deep valleys anyway.
Now the situation which the disciples faced at this point is critical to understanding what God was doing in their lives at this important juncture in their discipleship. Peter had just made the great confession in Matthew 16—that He was absolutely convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. And Christ had commended him for this statement as he had commended no disciples before then—because this belief is essential to our salvation.
And then, immediately following this, Jesus began to announce the other part of the good news. It was bad news for the disciples when they first heard it. It was that He as the Messiah would suffer and die and be raised again. And not only this, that if they were going to follow Him, they themselves had to be willing to deny themselves and take up their cross to follow Him. In other words, they needed to be willing to lose their lives for Christ's sake in order to save their lives.
This was tough stuff. Peter didn't like what Jesus had said about his own imminent death. I can't imagine the disciples were too excited about the fact that to follow Jesus they had to be willing to give up their own lives, either. And I imagine that these difficult words troubled the disciples, and especially Peter for some time after they were spoken.
So, in light of these challenging predictions about both Jesus' own future and that of his disciples, it's not surprising what happened next—the Mount of Transfiguration—an experience of the manifest presence of God which was perhaps greater and more glorious than any other single experience any of the disciples had ever had with Jesus, an experience that was specifically designed to be absolutely unforgettable.
And as we've read, Jesus took three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, the three that we have now come to know as the inner-circle of His disciples to the summit of a high mountain.. It was these three and these three alone who were invited to come with Jesus as He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead in Mark 5:37. They also were the three who were invited to come closest to Jesus to observe his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:33. So this is the second of three unique experiences that these three disciples would have of Jesus.