When Jesus, Peter, James, and John descended the mountain where Jesus had been transfigured before them, they came to a crowd that included the rest of His disciples and the scribes who were arguing with them. The crowd ran to greet Jesus and He asked what they were arguing about.
Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (Mark 9:14–22)
I find it interesting that the story is often used as an illustration to compare great experiences with the not so great, calling the former a ‘mountaintop’ experience, and the latter the valley where we must live most of our lives. Some will say that the three on the mountain wanted to stay there (at least Peter did) and yet the normal is to be in the thick of things where we have to do battle with sin and unbelief.
Perhaps the details of the story are not important, but do they fit that application of this event? For one thing, it was not the three disciples who saw Jesus in His glory that were having a problem with casting out the evil spirit; it was those who stayed and had not experienced this mountaintop event. Yet it also was not the three who delivered the boy, but Jesus who did it after the boy’s father asked for compassion. Jesus’ words of rebuke are not clearly aimed at the disciples either. It seems more like Jesus to tell the crowds that when they asked for deliverance, it would be Him that produced it even if He used people as His agents.
I’ve had a few of these mountaintop experiences where the glory of the Lord was made clear to me. Those occasions have not been visual as this one was for the three disciples, but like them, I also didn’t want an ending. However, when Jesus brought me back to normal life, I had no sense of being down in a valley and back in the ‘real world.’ Those who carefully read the New Testament see that our reality is the spiritual realm and being with Jesus; this world is only temporal and will pass.
In my experience, being on a mountaintop and seeing the glory of God is tremendously equipping. It gives me heightened assurance of His power and the future glory of His kingdom. I have an increased desire that ‘His kingdom come’ because of those blessed insights.
If the ‘real world’ is anything, it is a test to see what I will do with what He revealed on the mountain. Will I selfishly wish to go back there and ignore the troubles down here? Or will I have a greater desire to share the glory of Jesus Christ with those who, for whatever reasons, did not make the climb?
It seems to me that being given a deeper vision of Jesus should not become a feather in my cap, or something to boast about. It cannot turn me inward simply because the Scripture says . . .
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2–3)
The Bible isn’t clear how this event directly affected Peter, James, and John right after they came down, but I know that His purpose in taking me to the mountain is that I might be more like Him not less. That deeper look at the Savior also makes us more inclined to purity rather than selfishness. Being on a mountaintop is about sinners seeing Jesus and being transformed, not exactly as He was, but it should bring me much closer.