“Follow” | Luke 9:28-36
As we conclude our series, “What Now?” we hear a sixth imperative from Jesus’ teachings: FOLLOW.
Sunday in the Christian calendar is the day we remember the experience of Jesus and his inner circle of disciples called The Transfiguration. He took Peter, James and John up on a mountain to pray. The disciples were heavy with sleep. While he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.
Suddenly these disciples saw two men, which they understood to be Moses and Elijah, talking to Jesus. It was a remarkable experience for them. Peter — who was often the first to speak and somewhat impulsive — said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings or booths, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
Luke says that Peter really didn’t know what he was saying. But, while he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was once again alone.
Now, this was an experience like no other. It was one of those very special, spiritually charged moments. It was — as we now say — a “mountaintop” experience.
We have those sometimes. You probably know something of what that is like. It is that feeling of being particularly close to God. It is that experience when all seems right with the world and you sense a clarity of purpose. It is that feeling when Christ seems especially present. You know—a mountaintop experience. We want it to last. We don’t want it to end. We want to stay in that place.
Simon Peter must have had that kind of experience because he wanted it to last. He wanted to put up booths or shelters there. But, Luke says, he really didn’t know what he was saying. Why would Luke say that? I believe it is because what Peter was suggesting wasn’t possible. We cannot stay on the mountaintop. We have to leave and go back down to the places where life is lived. That is, in fact, where Jesus led them next and it was in the valley that they encountered once again those needing help and healing. Having been to the mountaintop to pray gave them the focus and energy to face the needs in the valley.
Jesus said on many occasions, “Follow me.” Where he leads us is to the mountaintop where we recognize him as the Son of God and where we listen to him and where we experience a closeness to God. And he leads us into the valleys where we encounter trial and challenges and needs that we can address.
Where is Jesus leading you? Are you willing to follow up to the mountaintops and down into the valleys?
I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we consider together what it means to follow Jesus.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster