Moving the Mountain into the Valley

Bible Book: Matthew  17 : 1-20
Subject: Revival; Evangelism; Power of God; Healing; Missions

MOVING THE MOUNTAIN INTO THE VALLEY

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

Introduction

Matthew 17:1-20:

"Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” 10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist. 14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." (NKJV)

All of us love the mountaintops of life, which means that 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 awareness of God's glory and blessing upon us and upon those we love. In fact, most of us would really enjoy living simple lives without much in the way of challenges and difficulties. But, life is not like that, is it? For those of us who know the Lord, it is important that we learn how to quit trying to maintain a mountaintop retreat in life and enter the valley of need where so many people live everyday. It is in the valley that we can minister the love of Christ to the world. Today I want us to see why this idea of moving from mountaintop desires into the valley of service for Christ is necessary and possible for every Christian. We will see why this is so important in the story before us from the life of Jesus.

Actually, if we are truly close to the heart of God we will not delay in doing missions and seeking to reach out to those who truly need God's salvation and blessings. When we are near the heart of the Lord, His heartbeat becomes our heartbeat; His passions become our passions; His love for a lost and hurting world, becomes our love for a lost and hurting world.

No Christian can honestly deny that there is a need for a great revival in the Church of our Lord in this current age. The world around us cannot be changed without power from above us - power beyond us - God's power. 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 divine awakening. 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 so we can do the work in the valley of life where so many people are suffering. In fact, many of God's people themselves are suffering in the valley of despondency.

We see the real-life dramatization of this truth in a dual experience in the life of Christ found in Matthew 17. The incident of Jesus with three of His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the subsequent healing in the valley below, gives us a picture of how God desires to work in and through our lives as Christians today. Think with me about the mountaintop power and presence of Jesus being the deep valley of human sorrow and suffering.

First, let's look at ...

I. The Mountaintop Experience

In the scripture today we see Jesus on a mountain with Peter, James and John in Matthew 17:1-8. This can be referred to as a Mountain-Top Experience with the Lord. This is something every devoted Christian longs for - a place on the mountaintop with Christ - far away from the daily grind and dull existence many people face in the world each day. Be assured of this, we cannot work in the valley where the problems are until we have the power of God granted from the mountain. Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing." So let's visit the mountaintop with the Lord in this passage today and see what happened there.

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 aura or light. He was transfigured; hence, the experience is called the Mount of Transfiguration.

What the disciples experienced on the mountain can be referred to as a revival experience - a new and deeper way of seeing and experiencing Jesus in life. The Transfigured Lord transformed His disciples and gave them a new excitement and a deeper view of His nature and power. You and I need to have a mountaintop experience with Jesus from time to time - we need a renewed view and experience with our Lord on a regular basis. Without such experiences, our Christian life can become mundane and lack joy, substanceand power.

What does a new experience with Jesus do for His disciples?

A. A Special Recognition (Matthew 17:1-2)

To be lifted up 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 and 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 majesty and power. They recognized who He was. They saw His beauty. They celebrated in His resplendent effervescent brightness. They revelled in the revelation of His divine nature.

Also, they experienced ...

B. A Special Rejoicing (Matthew 17:3-4)

This new view of Jesus created joy - joy unspeakable and full of glory. There was joy in God's presence and that is what we need so much in our lives today. Remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We need to express this 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.

Then notice ...

C. A Speical Reverence (17:5-6)

The disciples had a renewed respect, awe and reverence for Christ. They were stricken with awe in the presence of the King. Their sins were repugnant to them in the presence of His holiness. His glory, when revealed in splendorious ways, is thrilling. What the disciples experienced is something Christians need today - a new look at Jesus - a clearer, clean, complete look at the wonderful nature of our Lord. When His sovereign, mighty power is seen we cannot help but appreciate it and show reverence for Him. Being in the presence of Jesus will humble us and cause us to lay aside all pride. This, in turn, readies us for living purer and more powerful lives in the valley we must go back to each day.

Then, we note here on the mountain ...

D. A Speical Revelation (17:7-8)

Once Jesus was revealed to them in a more glorious mannter, they learned things on the mountain which they had never learned before. Being lifted up into the dazzling presence of the Lord Jesus opened their minds and hearts to the deeper things of God.

Oh, how we need this in our lives. If we want to get away from boring worship and tiring service for the Lord, we need a new revelation of who He is and how splendid His nature is in us and how special his presence is with us. New truth is made known to us in the presence of Jesus. We are more open to know the things of God and to desire His Word when we feel and sense His remarkable presence.

The experience the disciples had on the mountain with Jesus was so wonderful that the disciples wanted to remain there. Have you ever been in a service of worship where Christ was so real that you hated for it to end? I have - numerous times. That is how the disciples felt on the mountain that day. They did not need to look at a sundial to see if it was time for the worship to end - they did not want it to end! They offered to build three tabernacles - one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah, so they could stay right where they were. I remember revival services from 20 to 30 years ago when people didn't want to go home. I have seen people still in groups praying and sharing the love of Christ more than an hour after a revival service had ended. They just didn't want to go home - that is how the disciples felt on the moutain with Christ. How long has it been since you have seen this in your church or among your fellow believers? Oh, how we need a new revelation of Christ in our churches - in our lives!

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 can call a mountaintop experience with Jesus. However, just when they had begun to enjoy the glory of it, just when they had entertained the idea of staying right there in that lovely, heavenly environment, Jesus said it was time to move out - time to go. 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.

So, now let's consider ...

II. The Valley Experience 17:14-20

Jesus told the disciples that it was time to leave the mountain. Why? What was so important that they could not stay in that wonderful, divine environment.

A. Multitudes Were Looking (Matthew 17:14)

In the Valley, there were multitudes of people looking for answers to life's troubles and heartaches. You and I can never see them properly or minister to them effectively until we have first been with Jesus in true worship and fellowship. God does not, however, bless us to simply make us feel good. When we are blessed with special sense of the presence of Christ it is because He is equipping us to go to those in need and share how He can change their lives - their situations.

When the disciples followed Jesus down from the mountain, they were immediately faced with a troubled man and his son.You see, there are people in the valley around us who need a divine answer. They turn from one place to another for help from the sad world they are in 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 the reality of this 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.

We must leave the mountain with Christ because ...

B. Malicious Ones 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 a young boy was experiencing and how it was affecting his father and family.

Please understand something important today - evil never harms one person alone. There are tentacles of Satan's reach that go out to harm, discourage and drag people down - even people who are just bystanders to the real attack. It is not just the drug dealer and drug user, for example, who are hurt by Satanic attack. What about their families? What about those harmed when the user must rob or steal to get money for drugs? Satan is always at work - lurking and seeking to bring chaos.

We must go from the moutain with Jesus to the valley of trouble because ...

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

The only answer to the problems in the lives of many people is a miracle - and Jesus is a miracle-worker. Normal actions will not change the situations that many are facing today. They need something from above. Philosophy will not help them. Biology is empty to them. Psychology fails them. Money leaves them helpless. The natural answers will not do - they need a supernatural move of God.

We must leave the moutain and follow Jesus into the valley to offer a ...

D. 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 until we have been close enough to Him for Him to do a work in us!

You saw in this story how Jesus confronted the Satan power working in the boy and thus also in the life of his father. Jesus healed the boy on the sport. This was something the disciples had not been able to do. So, when Jesus did this the disciples were amazed. Later they asked Jesus how He had rebuked the evil one who was harming the boy. Jesus did something most unusual.

Jesus pointed to a mountain a 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." Now, note here that Jesus did not speak of just any mountain. He said, "..that moutain," or it could be translated, "...this mountain." He was pointing at a specific mountain. Now what mountain do you think Jesus was pointing to? Well, certainly He was pointing at the Mount of Transfiguration. He was pointing to the mountain that He had been on with Peter, James and John. Now, pay attention - close attention - to what I'm about to say ...

Jesus did not say to His disciples that they could move ANY MOUNTAIN, but rather He said that they could move the power of the mountain He had just left beind into the valley of trouble below. In other words, He was saying that you and I cannot do the work of defeating Satan unless we are close to Him. We must have mountaintop experiences with Christ in order to see his power transferred to the lives of those in the valley where we live. I feel this is one of the greatest problems we are facing today. We have a need for revival among God's people. We need a new view of Jesus - a closer walk with Him. Yet, in our generation we have basically forsaken the idea of revival. The result is that we aren't moving any mountains. We are weak - we feel powerless in the face of Satan's power today. Admit it, you see things happening around you that are sinful, hateful and awful, but you have no answer regarding a change in the situations you see. People you love are suffering, but you don't know what to do. Listen, the first thing to do is get close to Jesus. He has the power and love to move on the scene, but Jesus is not a "errand boy." You can't just go along in life, living like you want to, and then call Him like you call pest control when you see a termite in your house. Jesus expects us to come to the mountain with Him so we can experience His power in the valley where real life occurs.

Conclusion

Look at some things we can do to see God work miracle changes in hurting lives...

1. Prayer

Jesus said, in regard to expelling the evil spirit from the boy in our passage today, that "this kind comes out by prayer..." We must have a vital prayer life - especially an intercessory prayer life. We must lift up people to the God of the mountain who are dwelling in the valley where Satan is working. We can't lift people up to a place where we have not been. How can we get people close to Christ when we ourselves are not close to Him? We must be close to Jesus in order to get Him to others who need Him.

2. Passion

Jesus also mentioned fasting. 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 but are things that keep us from prayer and service for Christ. If we think only of ourselves, we will never be able to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. Sadly, much preaching today is about us having our best life, or getting what we want personally from God. Some preachers almost preach as if there is some divine talisman or rabbit's foot that we can get to make our dreams come true. Listen, when I received Jesus my greatest dream came true. I found life's purpose. I found forgiveness. I found a Friend closer than a brother. I found eternal life. Once I was saved God's desire was me to FOLLOW HIM. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He did not tell His disciples some secret to have their best life now - He gave them the Great Commission. He told them to go and take His love and message to the world. God is interested in getting us in a position to help someone else who is suffering.

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.

Someone here today needs Salvation. You can trust Jesus and Jesus alone for your salvation. You can trust Him for your other needs, but you must first come to Him as Lord and Savior.

Christian, we need a closer walk with Jesus so that we can be prepared when we meet the people who are being tormented by the evil one. Let us come to Him today and ask for a closer walk, a greater power and a deeper faith - a mountaintop closeness to Jesus that can be transferred into the valley where people are hurting and in need of divine power.