Who Will Ascend? …Jesus on the Mountaintop: Part 1

Darkness (Photo credit: Roberto F.)

Are you ready to dive into the fascinating journey of Jesus’ prayer life?  We all know Jesus as an amazing miracle-worker, teacher, and Savior.  But do we often think of Him as a prayer warrior?  We should, for prayer was the foundation for His entire ministry.  My dad likes to say that Jesus went from one prayer meeting to another and performed miracles in-between. 

We are going to journey through the powerful mountaintop prayer encounters of Jesus, using the book of Luke as our foundation.  Why Luke?  Well, it is interesting to note that the Gospel of Luke includes more references to prayer than any other Gospel.  Luke also tells of more specific prayer encounters in Jesus’ life than any other Gospel.  And, between the books of Luke and Acts, Luke wrote more about the subject of prayer than any other New Testament author.  Not even Paul, in all his letters, wrote about prayer as much as Luke did.  Obviously, Luke placed a high priority on prayer, so it makes sense that we should use his Gospel as our foundation for learning about Jesus’ prayer life.

As we journey through Jesus’ prayer life, let’s remember to look for the patterns we have discussed: (1) equipping, (2) leaving the mountaintop, and (3) completing a mission.  Let’s first look at Luke 6:12-13, which says, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles.”

Jesus did not take this decision lightly.  He spent all night praying, likely asking God to confirm within His spirit who should be named among the twelve apostles.  Have you ever spent all night praying about a decision in your life?  If you have, then you know that any decision requiring all-night prayer is ultimately a big decision!  God was equipping Jesus for this assignment by giving Him the wisdom He needed to make the right decision.

But I want you to notice something: Jesus did not leave the mountaintop when morning came.  Rather, He called these twelve men up to Him.  Surely, it would have been easier for Jesus to descend as one Man rather than for Him to call twelve men to come up to where He was.  Yet, this passage is undoubtedly symbolic of what Jesus does in our lives.  He calls us up out of our circumstances to be with Him and to see life from His perspective.  When you have a healthy prayer life, you will be less likely to be pulled down by negative circumstances and more likely to actually pull people up out of negative situations they are facing.

However, Jesus and the apostles obviously did not stay on the mountaintop forever.  Look at what happened after Jesus named the Twelve Apostles:

And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits.  And they were healed.  And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all (Luke 6:17-19).

Here, we see the second two principles of mountaintop experiences.  After their equipping time, Jesus and the apostle knew they had to descend and return to “real life.”  And once they descended, they were met with their mission: confronting darkness with the power of God’s light.

First, let’s think about the descending process.  Once Jesus pulls us up out of our circumstances to help us see things from His perspective, He then leads us back down to deal with the situation through a new perspective.  Notice that Jesus did not send the apostles down by themselves.  No, He went with them.  While we cannot stay on the mountaintop forever, we most certainly can stay in the presence of Jesus forever.  When you leave your prayer closet to go to work, don’t leave Jesus in the closet!  Be mindful of the fact that He goes with you and desires to speak to you and tell you how you ought to respond to every situation you face, if you are willing to allow Him.

Now, let’s think about the mission that Jesus and the apostles faced.  It is amazing that, like clockwork, each time Luke tells of Jesus coming down the mountain or ending His prayer time, Luke describes a situation in which Jesus was met face-to-face with the powers of darkness.  It happened in this Luke 6 passage, it happened after the Transfiguration in Luke 9, and you will come to see that it happened after His prayer in Luke 11 and after His prayer in Gethsemane in Luke 22.  In Luke 6:18, Jesus healed “those who were tormented with unclean spirits,” and in Luke 9:42, He cast out a demon who “threw [the boy] down and convulsed him.”  Luke 11:14 reports that Jesus “was casting out a demon,” and in Luke 22:53, Jesus declared, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Let’s think for a minute.  Why would this be?  It seems to me that this is a prime example of how we often get hit with difficult life circumstances right after a spiritually high moment in our lives.  This is not abnormal at all, but in fact, I believe it is to be expected.  The reason for this is that darkness cannot stand the light, and when we have had a mountaintop encounter with the Lord, we shine ever brighter, causing the darkness to become ever darker.  This undoubtedly leads to conflict.  Many have marveled at the astounding amount of demonic activity during Jesus’ time.  The reason for this, I believe, is that Jesus’ light shone so brightly that He left no place for the powers of darkness to hide.  Once they were exposed, they attacked.  Yet, we all know that Jesus won every victory and overcame every dart that the darkness threw at Him.

We also have to know that, the more time we spend on the mountaintop with God, the more light we will begin to exude.  As we radiate God’s light, the darkness will no longer be able to hide.  But that is a good thing, because the more we awaken the darkness, the more we will be able to drive out the darkness through the power of God’s light.

I’ve said all that to say this: One primary mission that follows mountaintop experiences is the mission of invading the darkness with the power of God’s light.  That’s exactly what Jesus and the apostles did time and time again, and that is exactly what He is calling us to do as well.  Preach the gospel.  Heal the sick.  Cast out demons.  Do what you see the Father doing.  Watch the miraculous occur before your very eyes.  But before you do that, spend time on the mountaintop (1) receiving your one-on-one training from the Master.  Then, (2) descend the mountain with Him and (3) complete your mission to shatter the powers of darkness around you.

Practically Speaking…

What form of darkness are you up against right now?  What kind of darts is the enemy throwing at you?  If you don’t feel the pressure now, I’m sure you have felt it at some point previously.  Often, when we feel the oppression of the darkness around us, we just want to run away to the mountaintop and hide.  But that is not typically what Christ calls us to do.  No, we must stand our ground, and after we’ve done everything, we must continue to stand (Eph. 6:13).  Don’t run away.  Facing the darkness is a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth.  Spend time in prayer, asking God for wisdom for how to respond to the situation you are presently enduring.  Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in your life today to teach you how to respond and give you victory over the darkness!


3 thoughts on “Who Will Ascend? …Jesus on the Mountaintop: Part 1

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