From the Mountain to the Valley

Bible Book: Matthew  17 : 1-20
Subject: Missions; Evangelism

All of us love the mountain tops of life. We enjoy being in the presence of the Lord and the sense that everything is going our way. We like it when we have that special sense of God's presence. In fact, most of us would love to live simple lives without much in the way of challenges. But, life is not like that. For those of us who know the Lord, it is important for us to come off the mountain and enter the valley of hopelessness where so many people live. That is the nature of the story before us in the Scripture today.

Actually, if we are truly close to the heart of God, we will not delay in doing missions. When we are near the Lord, His heartbeat becomes our heartbeat; His passions become our passions; His love for a lost, hurting world becomes our love for a lost and hurting world.

No Christian would deny that there is a need for a great revival in the Church of our Lord. The world around us cannot be changed without power from above us. We cannot resist the evil one without the power of the Sovereign One. Our homes cannot be saved without the Bridegroom from heaven breathing a fresh breath of morality and love into our families. We need and we must plead for a fresh touch of God on His people. We cannot worship Him properly or work for Him powerfully without a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church!

In short, what the Church needs, what we need individually, is a heaven sent revival. We need a sin killing, hell-defying, Christ-exalting, soul-saving, heaven-sent revival. We don't need a new work to do, we need an old-fashioned, pentecostal, Holy Spirit infilling to come to the people of God.

As we enter into a time of emphasis on missions, I want us to see the proper balance between our worship of the Lord and our works for the Lord. When the two segments of the Christian life are viewed and acted on properly, you have true revival - a genuine spiritual awakening. Four elements are present when a true spiritual awakening occurs: devotion to the Lord, joy in the Lord, enthusiasm for the Lord, and service with the Lord. These four result in a quartet of experiences: Purity, Praise, Passion, and Performance. A Christian who is truly revived will abhor sin, bubble over with joy unspeakable and full of glory, have a fire for the cause of the Lord and will go forth to serve in His name and in His power!

We see the real-life dramatization of this truth in a dual experience in the life of Christ found in Matthew 17. Turn with me to this passage and note the experiences which took place: one on the mountaintop and the other in the valley. One without the other is an aberration.

I. The Mountaintop Experience 17:1-8

Let's begin by looking at the upward experience, or what we might call the Mountain-Top Experience with the Lord, for you cannot work in the valley till you have the power from the mountain. Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing." So let's visit the mountaintop with the Lord. In the passage before us, we see Jesus taking Peter James and John up on a mountain which has become known as the Mount of Transfiguration. While on the mountain, the disciples became sleepy and drifted off. When they awoke, they saw Jesus glistening with a heavenly flow. He was transfigured; hence, the experience is called the Mount of Transfiguration.

What the disciples experienced on the mountain, one might call a revival experience. The Transfigured Lord transformed His disciples. You and I need to have a mountaintop experience with Jesus. If we do, note what will accompany such an encounter.

A. Recognition (Matthew 17:1-2)

To lifted up to and to look upon the glorious light of His presence, is to obtain a new recognition of who He is. The disciples saw Jesus as they had never seen Him before. Granted, they had been with Him, but on the mountaintop they had a new deeper reality of the person and glory of Jesus.

Jesus was not transfigured because of light that shone upon Him, but because of light that burst forth out of Him. His earthly frame could not contain His glory in those moments upon the mountain. The disciples saw Him not just a teacher or prophet but as the Lord of glory, the Lord full of glory and power. They recognized who He was. They saw His beauty. They celebrated in His resplendent effervescent brightness.

B. Rejoicing (Matthew 17:3-4)

Such a view of Jesus creates joy - joy unspeakable and full of glory. There is joy in God's presence and we need that joy. Remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength! We need to express our joy as we worship the Lord. We must not be ashamed of our gladness or tears of joy when His presence is real to us.

C. Reverence (17:5-6)

The disciples had a renewed respect, awe and reverence for Christ. We are stricken with awe in the presence of the King. Our sins are repugnant to us. His glory is thrilling to us. His sovereign, mighty power is seen and appreciated. Being in the presence of Jesus will humble us and cause us to lay aside all pride.

D. Revelation (17:7-8)

They learned things in those moments on the mountain which they had not learned before. Being lifted up into the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus opens our minds and hearts to the deeper things of God. New truth is made known to us. We are more open to know the things of God and to desire His Word. The knowledge of the Lord increases!

This experience was so wonderful that the disciples wanted to remain there. They offered to build three tabernacles - one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. When we truly see Jesus, it creates within us a desire to remain close to Him. We do not want to leave. We hunger for more. Our interest turns from the world to the Lord. How desperately we need this today. Many Christians go through the motions of worship and can't wait to get back to things of the world. They simply give God a few minutes in church and feel that they have done their duty. When we see Jesus for who He really is, when His glory is on display, our desires change.

What a wonderful experience the disciples had. They had what we would call a mountaintop experience with Jesus. But just when they had begun to enjoy the glory of it all, just when they had entertained the idea of staying right there in that lovely, heavenly environment, Jesus said it was time to move out. They were leaving the mountain for the valley. Now, this is the very thing I want you to see. Without the mountaintop, we are not fit for service in the valley; but, if we think that simply enjoying the presence of Jesus in all His glory is all there is to the Christian life, we are sadly mistaken.

II. The Valley Experience 17:14-20

A. The Multitudes That Are Looking (Matthew 17:14)

In the Valley, there are multitudes of people looking for answers to life's troubles and heartaches. They turn from one place to another for an answer, but come away empty and sad. Christians who simply enjoy the presence of the Lord, and fail to see that there are multitudes in the valley of decision, make a serious mistake. We see that in the father who sought every way possible to find relief for his son. That father represents many people, like families today, who are looking for answers to life's troubling questions.

B. The Malicious Ones That Are Lurking (Matthew 17:18)

The reason many are seeking answers in the valley of life is because Satan is lurking around every corner. He is looking for opportunities to extend his reign and rule. Everywhere he goes, trouble follows. His minions carry out his plans, even though the average person has no idea that the problems they are having are the result of satanic invasion. We see that right here in the passage before us. We see the Satanic attack that the young boy was under and how it was affecting his father and family. Evil never harms one person alone. There are tentacles of Satan's work reaching out to harm, discourage and drag down others around those who are under his direct attack.

C. The Miracles That Are Lacking (Matthew 17:15-16)

The only answer to many people's problems are miracles - miracles that only God can supply. Normal actions will not change their situation. They need something from above! Philosophy will not help them. Biology is empty to them. Psychology fails them. Money leaves them empty. The natural answers will not do, they need a supernatural move of God!

D. The Method That Is Liberating (Matthew 17:19-20)

We must bring the Mountain down to the Valley. What does that mean? Unless we are near to the Lord, we cannot do great things for the Lord - or, to put it more correctly, we are not ready for Him to do His work through us! I believe that Jesus must have pointed to the mountain when he spoke and said, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to that mountain, Move from here to there, and it will be moved." In other words, that mountaintop experience can be moved into the valley of life by faith, faith revealed in prayer!

We enjoy mountaintops with God, but can we translate those experiences into something that helps those around us? We can only move the mountain to the valley with two things.

1. Prayer

We must have a vital prayer life - especially an intercessory prayer life. We must lift up people to the God of the mountain and the valley.

2. Passion

Our passion must include self-sacrifice. Fasting is one example, but it simply means that we must put aside some things that may not be evil in themselves and give time to serving God. If we think only of ourselves, we will never be able to rescue the perishing and care for the dying.

Do you need God's mountaintop joy and power moved into your valley? Do you know someone who needs this? Now is the time to turn to Him in faith and recognize that God, and God alone, can meet the tremendous needs we have in this world today. You can trust Him for salvation. You can trust Him for your other needs. Turn to Him now! And, make a new commitment to give financially, to pray faithfully and to love and serve others passionately. Yes, enjoy the mountain! But, don't forget the suffering in the valley of decision!