In light of how I ended last week’s blog, you may be saying by now, “Jason, you’re off topic!” Actually, I’m not—it just seems like I am. But we’ll come back to that idea of the time of visitation later in this blog. What about the rest of the story? Well, okay then, here we go! When the apostles finally awoke, they perceived the significance of the situation. But by this time, Moses and Elijah were about to leave! Not wanting them to depart so soon after he awoke, Peter said, “It is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (v. 33). One of my professors at Grace University, Wes Wilmer, put it this way: Peter was saying, “Wait! I just woke up, and now you’re leaving!? Here, we’ll make some places for you to stay. Let’s just stay here for a while on this mountaintop.”
But God’s voice from heaven came down and interrupted Peter, telling the group on the mountain to listen to His Son, Jesus. I like to think that what He really was implying was, “Don’t listen to Peter. You can’t stay up here. Listen to My Son, and do what He tells you to do!” Here we see the first two principles of mountaintop experiences. First, this was a time of equipping and training, both for Jesus, and for the apostles. Second, the apostles learned that they could not stay on top of the mountain. They could have enjoyed the experience for a much longer period of time had they been awake for the full length of time. They missed 95% of their visitation. But that did not give them an excuse to prolong their time up there. There was work to be done and a mission to accomplish.
We see this third principle of completing a mission in the next few verses. Let’s read Luke 9:37-42:
Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.
Wow. No sooner had Jesus and the three apostles descended the mountain that a crowd met them. Their assignment met them at the foot of the mountain! And wouldn’t you know it, but their assignment came in direct contrast to the light and glory they experienced on the mountaintop. They had experienced light, and then they met up with darkness. Remember from two blogs ago about how difficult my spiritual walk became after that high school retreat? I believe I had descended the mountaintop at that point and met up with spiritual darkness around me. The thing that I did not know how to do was how to confront that darkness with the light that I had been given.
Interestingly, the disciples were a lot like me. They could not do anything about the darkness that was harassing this child. Keep in mind, Jesus had many more disciples than the twelve apostles that we most often hear about, and also keep in mind that only three of the twelve ascended the mountain with Jesus. So it is very possible that the disciples who tried to cast out the demon were the ones who were down the mountain. It is also very possible that they could not cast it out because they did not have the same preparation time that Jesus and the three apostles had on the mountaintop. On the flip side, perhaps even the three apostles who experienced the glory on the mountain could not cast it out because they practically missed their visitation. Whatever the case may be, Jesus was clearly the only One there who was prepared to overcome the darkness with the light of God.
This is why it is so important, even crucial, to live a lifestyle characterized by prayer! Our prayer time with God is our daily mountaintop experience. Without it, we are running on empty each day. Pastor Lonnie Parton of Victory Fellowship Church has often said, “Give us this day our daily encounter.” God, that is what we seek. We cannot run on empty every day. We need our daily time with You in order to prepare us for the assignment You have for us. Then, we will be able to confront the darkness with the light of Your truth.
Sometimes, it is impossible to prepare for the curveballs of life that get thrown at us. However, we can often be better prepared to face the darkness if we simply devote time to spend in the presence of God each day. If we have our daily encounter, or daily mountaintop experience, we will be much better equipped and able to “cast out” whatever spiritual force of darkness would try to come against us when we come down that mountain. This doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be prepared, but it definitely helps in many situations. I challenge you to commit this day to spending a daily amount of time with God that will stretch you and prepare you for the things God has called you to do. That way, when you do encounter darkness, You will be able to confront it and overcome it with the Light!