Jesus’ Mountaintop Experience: Lessons for the Christian Life

Final Moments courtesy of Vern and Flickr
Final Moments courtesy of Vern and Flickr

An Experience from the World

It is quite amazing to think about the opportunities that afforded to each of us everyday. We have the privilege of doing great things, being part of great moments, and knowing some fascinating people. In fact these opportunities are so much a part of our daily life that they are often overlooked because they have become the ‘norm.’ Realistically, we have come to expect these life-impacting moments as routine. They are so frequent that they have altered our expectations of life.
I remember from a young age, I spent so much of my time searching for the ‘next big thing.’ Our expectations of life are so high that we now spend our time looking for the next mountaintop experiences. We seek those experiences which bring us to an inexplicable happiness and indescribable feelings of self-worth. But those experiences are often few with long valleys in between.
It’s unrealistic to think that life is constantly lived with those moments of highs. The expectations we build up are so high, that when the moment we have been waiting for comes we are left fallen because it was not near as wonderful as our expectations lead us to believe it would be. As Ravi Zacharias points out, “The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate – and it has let you down.”
This searching way of life has become so much a part of our mindset that we have transferred it to our spiritual life as well. We search for those mountaintop experiences with God defining our spiritual life only by that alone. It is in these moments that we say we ‘feel’ the presence of God. Any other experience in our life is simply part of our routine circumstances. Yet, I would say that this unsustainable way of living is not the example that was given to us from our Lord and Savior.
An Experience from God
Jesus Christ had a mountaintop experience. From this literal experience we have much understanding to gain. We read of this moment in Matthew 14:23 which says, “After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone” (Holman Christian Standard Bible Version).
In the midst of 5,000 men (additionally there were women and children, but we do not know how many they number) Jesus Christ performed a great miracle. He had provided for their physical needs in a time when there did not seem to be sufficient means of doing so. Upon the completion of this miracle (the only one recorded by all four Gospels) Jesus sends His disciples into a boat at the Sea of Galilee while He plans to meet them later. He also dismissed the crowd so that He alone can go to the mountain to pray.
Surely the weight of the task on Him is great and in this miracle alone we see the responsibility on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is here that He is responsible for a large group of people, but only for the physical needs. How more pressing and weighty is it then to think that soon His life will be required of Him for the sake of all people in order to fulfill their spiritual needs! Knowing these future events were coming, Jesus expresses His full humanity here by praying to God, suggesting His reliance on the Father as we should do.
What is it then that we can learn from Jesus’ mountaintop experience?
  1. They are private: Mountaintop experiences are usually described as being in the  midst of large groups of people with the attention on one person. That wasn’t the case here. Jesus had already been in the midst of the large crowds. Now was His time to be alone with His father. Contrary to what we think ‘super spiritual’ experiences are, they don’t require large crowds. In fact, the most meaningful times are when we are alone with our Father one on one.
  2. They are peaceful: Jesus sat in the midst of God’s creation for time with God the Father. There were not distractions from large noises, large lights, or large crowds. It was a calming time in which He could focus solely on God the Father and His will.
  3. They are prayerful: It was here that a conversation took place. Christ’s attention was directed towards the Father in a way that demonstrated the depth of their relationship. And so it should be with us. Our mountaintop experiences are not about us at all. They are about God and fixating our focus on God.
This time in Christ’s life reveals a picture that is quite contrary to what our expectation is. Mountaintop experiences in life are not built around an experience in which the world fixates its attention on us. Instead, the most meaningful and genuine experiences are when we fixate our attention on God.
An Experience with God
I would that we could spend all of our days on a mountaintop. It is then that we would draw closes to God on this side of eternity, more figuratively than literally of course. Yet it is not so for many of us. Moving forward with full steam, we are often distracted away from drawing nearer to God. Yet, I would say we need those mountaintop experience in our lives. Not in the way that the world describes them, but in the way that Christ demonstrated them. Let us draw nearer to God through His Word and prayer so that we may understand and experience the fullness of this life for our good and His glory.

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