Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them...
Have you ever climbed a mountain? I've been blessed to climb quite a few and I can say three things with certainty about mountain climbing. (And these are just as true for the small tourist attraction mountains with gift shops as they are for the big mountains out in the backcountry that you have to hike miles to get to.)
- Mountain climbing is hard. It necessarily involves walking uphill. Whether it's a paved path with steps or a winding trail with cutbacks, my quads burn.
- There will always be more people at the bottom than at the top. Some will choose to stay down in the gift shop. Others will start the climb and have to quit halfway up. Inevitably, there will be fewer people on the peak than there are at the base.
- The view from the top is always worth the work. I've never climbed a mountain and been underwhelmed. You are always glad you did it.
And I believe these three truths give us some insight into the story of the transfiguration. Jesus chose a mountain because mountain climbing is hard. There is a fellowship to be had in the hours it takes to climb a truly high mountain. It gives plenty of time to talk. And it breeds a certain type of camaraderie to suffer together. (Philippians 3:10-11) These men were Jesus' inner ring of disciples and He chose a perfect activity to get alone with them.
Jesus likely chose a high mountain because He wanted to get alone with these three. This particular mountain was high enough to ensure that the crowds wouldn't dare follow. Jesus made sure they would be alone because He wanted to reveal something special to them.
And you better believe that the special view they received into Jesus' true nature was well worth the effort. What they saw on that mountain was a revelation that they would talk about for years to come!
So remember this the next time God leads you up a hard path in life. The harder the path, the closer the fellowship you build with Him. The more difficult the route, the less people will follow you. Which means the glimpse you receive of God's goodness will be all the more rare and unique a gift. So when God leads you up a steep path and you're not sure the pain is worth it, think ahead to the view that you'll enjoy at the end of the journey and choose to enjoy the fellowship along the way. And press on!