Summary: The Father expressed His approval with the Son in three ways there on the mount. (Part 1 in "The Road To Glory" Easter series)
“And some eight days after these sayings, it came about that he took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray. And while He was praying the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
Rather than just jumping in and contemplating the events of this trip to the mountain with His disciples, we need to glance back along the trail and remember what has brought them to this point.
The Son of Man, in His humility, has faithfully walked the path laid out for Him from before the foundation of the world. He has taken to Himself the weakness of flesh, submitted Himself to the authority of earthly parents and increased, we’re told, ‘in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men’. (Lk 2:52)
At the appointed time He subjected Himself to baptism in the Jordan, identifying Himself with the nation and with those He came to seek and to save, and then entered upon His earthly ministry.
For over three years He has traveled the hills and dusty paths of Judea and Galilee and Samaria, touching lives, teaching His chosen twelve, spending much time in fervent prayer and always, always, doing the will of His Father.
“And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29)
In silence He has borne the rejection of His own people. They have ridiculed and slandered Him, they have attempted time and again to trap Him either in His words or actions so they might find legal cause to kill Him. On one occasion they tried to throw Him over a cliff, and these were his neighbors while growing up!
But through it all He has never lost sight for a moment, of His mission and purpose. He has gone about the work the Father gave Him to do, patiently waiting with each step for the Father’s guidance and the Father’s timing, and His work has been performed perfectly according to the Father’s will.
Now His time is growing short, and He knows it. It is time to head for Jerusalem for the Passover; the final Passover He will celebrate with His friends; the Passover which will be fulfilled by His own suffering and death.
So He calls His three most attentive students up the mountain, where their final exams will begin.
WHY HE WENT
The first thing about this mountain climb I want you to take notice of, is why He went. He went there to pray.
It’s easy to miss that point, if we skim over verse 28 so we can get to the transfiguration of His appearance, and the visit by the Old Testament celebrities, and all the stuff that comes later.
He went there to pray.
Well, He could have prayed anywhere, right? So why go to the mountain?
There was nothing unusual about that. We’re told in several other places in the gospels that He went alone to a mountain to pray. In fact, here’s a bit of Bible trivia for you to remember; in Mark 6, Luke 6 and John 6, are where you’ll find accounts of Jesus going off by Himself to a mountain to pray.
I suppose it’s valid to assume He went there because it was the only way He could get away from the crowds and have alone time with His Father.
Besides, maybe He just liked the mountains. I know I do. I’m sure these were mini-retreats for this One who had no place to rest His head; who was determined to work while it was day for the night was coming when no man could work.
These were also times when He was praying over important events to come. One of those times was just before He was accosted by large throngs of people needing healing of various diseases and infirmities.
In Luke 6 we’re told He spent the entire night in prayer, then came down and called His disciples to Him and chose the twelve.
And here we see Him, about to set His face for Jerusalem, where He will be ‘rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day’ (Lk 9:22), but before He sets one foot on the trail for that final journey, He goes to the mountain to pray.
What a valuable lesson for us all, believers in Christ. Why do we wait until we’re in the thick of our problems, or pressed with an important decision that needs to be made quickly, or laying on our sick bed, before we pray?