Summary: Jesus reveals his glory on the mountain, to prepare his disciples, and us for the valley ahead.
Life is filled with peaks and valleys. A peak is something excellent that happens in your life, something great, something to celebrate and remember. The birth of your child – that is a highpoint in your life. The day you get married – that is a peak. During those moments, it’s easy to be a Christian. “God is good,” you think to yourself. There’s no doubt in your mind that God is blessing you.
But life isn’t one peak after another. There are the valleys too. The troubles of life. Those difficult moments. When you have been diagnosed with cancer – that’s a valley. When a loved one dies – that’s a valley. During those moments, it’s more difficult to be a Christian sometimes. When you’re in the valley, it’s hard to say, “God is good.” Sometimes your faith is shaken. There’s some doubt there, when you’re in a valley, that God is blessing you and those around you.
Peaks and valleys – where are you right now? Are you on top of a peak? Or are you in a valley? Maybe you’re somewhere in between – maybe there’s a peak or a valley for you right around the corner, and you don’t even know it. The disciples of Jesus Christ had no idea that they were about to enter a valley – they were about to go through a low-point with Christ. Things with Jesus seemed to be going so well – he had performed miracles – walking on the water, feeding the 5000. He had been surrounded by crowds of people, listening to his parables. It was easy to be a disciple of Jesus at that time. There was no doubt that this was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. The disciples were experiencing one high-point after another with Jesus.
But right around the corner loomed the valley of the shadow of death. The crowds would soon turn against Jesus. He’d be betrayed, and arrested, and tortured, and publicly condemned, and executed in the most shameful way known to man at that time. The valley was right around the corner. The disciples would be filled with fear and doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. Soon, it would be very difficult to be a disciple of Christ. A deep, dark valley was right around the corner, and the disciples had no idea.
And so that is why today, Jesus takes them to the top of a mountain. He lets them experience something amazing – with their own eyes, they catch a glimpse of his glory. Right before the valley, Jesus takes them to a mountain, to a high point, and he does this to strengthen them for the difficult road ahead. Today, it is good for us to go on this journey with those disciples too, and experience with them this high point, for two reasons.
First of all, it prepares us for Lent. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is this Wednesday. Up until this time, you have heard about Christ, how powerful he is, what a great teacher he is, how he is, without a doubt, the Son of God and Savior of the World. But now it is Lent, that time in the church year when Jesus descends into the valley of the shadow of death. You’re going to hear about how he was rejected. How he was weak. How he suffered and died for the sins of the world. These next six weeks, we are going to walk with Jesus, into that valley, and see those difficult moments. This mountain-top experience we hear about today prepares us for the valley ahead.