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March 5:  Mountain Top Experience

Today, we are privileged to receive our first devotional from Gene Schwarm. He shares insights on the Transfiguration. Traditionally, Mount Tabor, aka they built the Church of Transfiguration on top (see right picture), is believed to be the site of the transfiguration. However, there is a contention that it occurred on Mount Hermon (see left picture). Mount Hermon also held significant reverence, partially due to its towering height, being 7000 feet taller than Mount Tabor. Similar to Caesarea Philippi, which was a significant site for pagan worship, Mount Hermon was also a site of pagan worship. Regardless of the specific mountain, the narrative underscores the sanctity of mountaintops, depicting the disciples' experience of being in a place where they might have felt a mixture of awe and fear, recognizing the holiness of the ground they stood upon.



Scripture:  Mark 9:2-12


Mountain Top Experience

The English language has an expression “mountain top experience.”  This expression originated from Bible stories of events occurring on top of a mountain and has come to mean a moment of God transcending, revealing himself to man.  It was on a mountain top that God spoke to Abraham and directed him to substitute a lamb for sacrifice for his son Isaac.  Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai with God where God revealed his character and gave him the Ten Commandments.  On a mountain top God met with Elijah and communicated with him by a “gentle whisper.”  Today’s scripture, in my opinion, describes the most magnificent mountain top experience, the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain.


This mountain top experience begins with Jesus asking three disciples, Peter and the brothers James and John, to hike up a mountain with him.  These three were special and in the Jesus’ inner circle.  It’s not stated why they were special and invited to come along, maybe because they had more spiritual perception, greater leadership qualities or Jesus wanted them to have this experience to prepare them to lead the church when he was gone.  This event is recorded in three Gospels (Mathew, Mark, and Luke).  It took place later in Jesus’ ministry after he had first predicted his death and shortly before he began his final journey to Jerusalem.


When the four reached the top of the mountain, Jesus’ appearance was transfigured.  His face shone bright from within, his clothes were dazzlingly white as they could not conceal the rays of divine splendor coming from within.  In witnessing this the three disciples were given a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus.  He’s not merely a prophet, or a leader but he is the long-awaited Messiah.


Moses and Elijah, who had lived centuries before, then appeared on the mountain top.  Moses was the greatest leader of Israel, the receiver of the Ten commandments and giver of the law.  Elijah was the most famous and zealous of the prophets.  They began talking with Jesus.  What would Jesus, Moses and Elijah have talked about?  Mark doesn’t give insight on what their conversation was about but Luke’s account states “they were speaking about his (Jesus’) exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31).  I can imagine Moses describing to Jesus his headaches, heartaches, and near-death experiences in leading the people of Israel in their exodus.  I can imagine Elijah telling Jesus of his near-death experiences with Jezebel and the hardships he faced.  I can imagine Moses and Elijah sharing their personal experiences of God’s presence and direction to them through the perils, trials, and hardships of their earthly life.  I can imagine this conversation providing Jesus with strength and encouragement for what was ahead.


The three disciples were terrified by what they had seen.  They were left speechless, except for Peter.  Impetuous Peter jumped up and suggested that three memorials/shelters be built on this spot to memorialize this event.  Immediately after Peter’s suggestion, a voice from the cloud overhead said, “this is my dearly beloved son, listen to him.”  The voice of God had been heard by others and Jesus at an earlier time in the life of Jesus, at his baptism by John the Baptist when it was said “You are my dearly loved son, and you bring me great joy.”  God repeated his approval of Jesus at the close of his ministry just as he had at his baptism, the beginning of his ministry.


God’s voice at the transfiguration gave a clear identification as to who Jesus is and a clear direction of what the disciples (and we) should do.  Jesus is divine, He is Lord, He is of God, listen to Him!  Jesus hearing these words of love, affection and affirmation from his heavenly Father must have given him strength and encouragement for what was ahead.

 

QUESTIONS:

1.      Have you had a conversation with a Christian brother or sister that gave you strength and encouragement?

2.      Is there a someone that you should have a conversation with that will provide them with strength and encouragement?

3.      Do you remember loving, affectionate, affirming words from a parent that gave you strength and encouragement?

4.      Are there words of love, affection, and affirmation that you need to share with your child?

 

PRAYER:

Jesus, we praise your name.  You are divine, you are Lord, you are our redeemer and savior.  Reveal to us those in need of encouragement, love, and affirmation.  Help us to have the words, the conversation, to meet the need.  Empower us to be vessels of love, affection, and affirmation to our children, young and adult.  Propel us to express that love.  Amen.          


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