Moving A Mountain

Bible Book: Matthew  17 : 1-20
Subject: Ministry; Power; Service; Victory; Missions

Moving A Mountain

J. Mike Minnix

Matthew 17:1-20

Today I want us to ask if it is really possible to move a mountain through prayer. Certainly Jesus spoke of this, but what did He mean by it? I can tell you that he meant what He said, but today we are going to see the context of His statement and how we can apply that to our own lives - right where we are - right now.

We live in a world with deep problems. These problems affect our lives, our families and our community. There is little question that the lack of moral standards and the lack of power to uphold what little standards most people have are corrupting our society at an alarming rate. Middle School girls are getting pregnant, kids are killing kids, and sadly they are doing these things because they are following the examples of adults - adults who used to be seen as role models in society. Drugs are destroying so many young people in our day, and the flood of drugs just keeps on flowing across our land. Suicides among young and old alike are skyrocketing. When we see the desperate times in which we live, we can complain, decry the situation, or perhaps throw up our hands in desperation. On the other hand, we could find an answer - the only answer. Is there hope for our society? Is there an answer to the rampant breakdown or moral decency? Is there a way for marriages to be mastered, for corruption to be conquered, for people like us to make a difference in an indifferent world?

The answer to these questions is Yes! There is a way, but we must understand that it is God’s way. We must get a new understanding of the need for God’s power to enable us to do what we cannot do ourselves. If we would impact our society for God, we must have God’s help. We need something greater than our own ability or strength to move a mountain.

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. 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 His people - upon my life and yours.

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, Holy Spirit infilling in order to do the same work He has always called His people to accomplish.

When revival happens, it restores a proper balance to God’s people: a balance of morality and mission. This balance has a dual dimension. First, there is the Spiritual Dimension. Secondly, there is the Service Dimension. It can be said that there is an Upward Life and there is an Outward Life. Every real revival or spiritual awakening that has taken place in Christian history has revealed these two characteristics. One equates with faith and the other with works. One without the other corrupts true Christianity. Faith without works is hypocritical, works without faith is Pharisaical.

Four elements are present when a true spiritual awakening occurs:

  • Devotion to the Lord
  • Joy in the Lord
  • Enthusiasm for the Lord
  • Service with the Lord.

These four result in a quartet of experiences:

  • Purity
  • Praise
  • Passion
  • Power

A Christian who is truly revived will abhor sin, bubble over with joy unspeakable, and know the fullness of glory that God's provides. It will cause us to experience a heaven sent fire for the cause of the Lord and we will then 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 mountain top and the other in the valley. One without the other is an aberration.

I. The Mountain Top Experience

Look at Matthew 17:1-8

Let's  begin by looking at the upward experience, or what we might call the Mountain-Top Experience with the Lord. Know this, we cannot work in the valley of the world till we have the power from the mountain of God. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” So let's visit the mountain top 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 glow. He was transfigured; hence, the experience is called the Mount of Transfiguration.

What the disciples experienced on the mountain might well be called a revival experience. They were inspired and energized by the presence of God's glory. The light of Jesus’ glorious presence awakened them from their lethargy. The Transfigured Lord transformed His sometimes indifferent disciples. You and I need to have a mountain top experience with Jesus. If we do, note what will accompany such an encounter.

A. Recognition (Matthew 17:1-2)

To look at and be lifted up into the glorious light of the Lord's 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 mountain top they had a new a 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 reveled in His resplendent effervescent brightness. This is the need in our lives today - to see Jesus in all His glory.

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 in our lives and in our churches. Remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength! Many Christians are downhearted because they are downcast. They are looking at the world around them, the problems surrounding them, the depression within them, instead of looking at the Lord above them!

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 by us when we are on the mountaintop with Him.

D. Revelation (17:7-8)

On the mountain with Jesus, the disciples learned things they had not known 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 revealed to us in such moments. We are more open to know the things of God and to desire His Word. The knowledge of the Lord increases in His people when they see Him in all His glory.

This experience oin the mountain with Jesus 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 interests turn from the world to the Lord. How desperately we need this today. Many Christians go through the motions of worship today 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.

I remember revivals in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s that can only be described as mountaintop experiences with God. People came to church every night and didn't want to leave when the services were over. They would stay around and fellowship, and at times gather in small groups to pray. The joy actually made it hard to go to sleep at night, even though almost all those attending had jobs required them to be at work early the next morning. No wonder churches were growing, people were being saved, and baptisms soared. You just can't have power among God's people if you don't experience the glory of being in a mountaintop experience with Jesus.

What a wonderful experience the disciples had, 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. The whole earth is in a deep spiritual valley, and there is work for God's people to do in that valley. That is what Jesus taught His disciples.

II. The Valley Experience

Matthew 17:14-20

Jesus, Peter, James and John came down the mountain to the valley below. Here we see how God works in our lives to change the atmosphere of the valley through our having been with Him on the mountain.

A. The Multitudes 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 but fail to see that there are multitudes in the valley of decision make a serious mistake. As the three disciples and Jesus come to the valley there is a man in distress that approaches them. He has a agonizing problem with His son and His need divine help.

B. The 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. The man who ran to Jesus was the father of a boy who was attempting to commit suicide. Do we see that among our young people today? Drugs, alcohol and other activities are driving our children to the brink of disaster – and some are actually falling over the precipice. Satan comes only to kill and destroy.

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

The only answer to the problems many people face is to experience a miracle of divine proportion. Normal actions will not change their situations. They need something from above! Philosophy will not help them. Biology is empty to them. The natural answers will not do, for they need a supernatural move of God.

The father in our story needs help with his son. Sadly, we note that the nine disciples of Jesus who had not been on the mountain were totally incapable and unable to help the man or his boy. They were helpless and clueless as to what might be done to assist in the awkward and terrible circumstances they faced.

Those of us who serve the Lord cannot provide answers to the problems people face without visiting the mountain with God; on the other hand, we cannot meet people at the point of their need if we simply desire to enjoy God’s presence. All around us there are people who need a miracle of God's grace and power to overcome the evil of this world. We cannot help them on our own. We need power from above to meet problems here below!

D. The Method that is Liberating (Matthew 1719-20)

How can we find answers to the complex and destructive situations we see in our world today. We must bring the Mountain of God's glory down to the Valley of human need. What does that mean? Unless we are near 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 unless we are allowing Him to do His work in us.

I believe that Jesus must have pointed to the mountain the three disciples had just departed with Him 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.” Note that Jesus did not say, “…you can say to "A" mountain and it will be moved.” Jesus said, …you can point to "THIS" mountain and it will be moved.” He was speaking of a specific mountain when he spoke to His disciples. Certainly he was speaking of the mountain he had just descended.

For us to have power to confront the evil in our lives, those of our families and those of people around us, we must obtain  that power that only the Lord can provide. Our personal worship time and public worship must lead us to a mountaintop place with Jesus. Then we must descend into the real world and bring with us the faith to move that mountain of God’s presence into the valley of Satanic attack. In other words, that mountaintop experience can be moved into the valley of life by faith - faith revealed in prayer and commitment.


Do you sometimes feel impotent in the face of Satan’s attacks on your life, that of your family and those you encounter in life? To be sure, we all lack the personal power to deal with the evil one; however, there is One dwelling in every believer who is greater than he that is in the world. We need a fresh surrender to the love, presence and power of Jesus today so that we might be the useful servants God calls us to be. Then, we need a new commitment to allow us to be used to bring His blessings to those in the valley of need. This isn’t about us being blessed; it is rather about us being a conduit for God to bless others through our lives.

Let us pray for a revival in our churches - in our lives. The valley is full of agony and Christians need for God to do a mountaintop work in us so that we can be used to see lives changed in the valley of this world.