Today’s Reading: Mark 9:1-29 (additional reading: Psalm 43:1-5 & Proverbs 10:18 )
Life is filled with peaks and valleys. A peak is something excellent that happens in your life, something great, something to celebrate and remember. The birth of your child – that is a highpoint in your life. The day you get married – that is a peak. During those moments, it’s easy to be a Christian. “God is good,” you think to yourself. There’s no doubt in your mind that God is blessing you.
But life isn’t one peak after another. There are the valleys too. The troubles of life. Those difficult moments. When you have been diagnosed with cancer – that’s a valley. When a loved one dies – that’s a valley. During those moments, it’s more difficult to be a Christian sometimes. Peaks and valleys – where are you right now? Are you on top of a peak? Or are you in a valley? Maybe you’re somewhere in between – maybe there’s a peak or a valley for you right around the corner, and you don’t even know it.
The disciples of Jesus Christ had no idea that they were about to enter a valley – they were about to go through a low-point with Christ. Things with Jesus seemed to be going so well – he had performed miracles – walking on the water, feeding the 5000. He had been surrounded by crowds of people, listening to his parables. It was easy to be a disciple of Jesus at that time. There was no doubt that this was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. The disciples were experiencing one high-point after another with Jesus.
But right around the corner loomed the valley of the shadow of death. The crowds would soon turn against Jesus. He’d be betrayed, and arrested, and tortured, and publicly condemned, and executed in the most shameful way known to man at that time. The valley was right around the corner. The disciples would be filled with fear and doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. Soon, it would be very difficult to be a disciple of Christ.
That is why in today’s reading, Jesus takes them to the top of a mountain. He lets them experience something amazing – with their own eyes, they catch a glimpse of his glory. Right before the valley, Jesus takes them to a mountain, to a high point, and he does this to strengthen them for the difficult road ahead.
The American evangelist Dwight L. Moody told the story about a Christian woman who was always bright and cheerful and optimistic, even though she was confined to her room because of an illness. She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, rundown building. A friend decided to visit her one day and brought along another woman – a person of great wealth. Since there was no elevator, the two ladies began the long climb upward. When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented, “What a dark and filthy place!” Her friend replied, “It’s better higher up.” When they arrived at the third floor landing, the remark was made: “Things look even worse here.” Again the reply: “It’s better higher up.” Finally they reached the attic level, where they found the bedridden saint of God. A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled her heart.
Although the room was clean and flowers were on the windowsill, the wealthy visitor could not contain herself about the stark surroundings and blurted out: “It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!” Without a moment’s hesitation the shut-in responded: “It will be better higher up.” Right now, she was in a valley, but she was not looking at temporal things. With her eyes of faith fixed on the eternal, she had found the secret of true satisfaction and contentment. Where did she get this strength? This perspective? She had been with Jesus in his Word. She had seen his glory on the mountain top. May that same glory you have seen today transform you.