“Lord of the Mountain and Lord of the Valley” (John MacDiarmid)

Luke 9 v 28-42
Notes on Sermon preached at PCF 14 August 2011

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Here we have two extraordinary stories about Jesus, one of which takes place on a mountain and the other in the valley, the day after they come down from the mountain.

There are two things that God wants us to learn today:

  1. Jesus meets us on the mountain
  2. We serve Him in the Valley

We need to understand both, and be in a living vital relationship with Him on the mountain and in active service with Him in the valley.

Now let’s go through the passage line by line. What do we see in this passage?

1. The Importance of Prayer

How many times have we seen and noted this in Luke’s gospel? Luke is always at pains to point out that the major events in Jesus’ life come out of and as a result of his intimate times with his Father. And the same is true for us, as individuals and as a community. The disciples, like us, are sleepy when they should be praying. It won’t be the last time!

2. The Reality of the Unseen World

As a result of sin we have had the blinds pulled over our eyes to blind us to the reality of what we are a part of . The fact is that there is a spiritual reality that is more real than anything we are able to see, and in which the seen things find their true place. Here the disciples have a glimpse into the reality of who Jesus is, and then, in an extraordinary moment, they see and recognise two people who are long dead – two of the greatest figures of the Old Testament – Moses and Elijah. What an amazing sight! What are we to make of it?
Here are two men who were well and truly dead (Elijah had been translated – but the principle still holds). The fact is that they were both alive and well, talking with Jesus, and aware of what was going on on earth. What a comfort for those of us whose loved ones have died trusting Jesus! And what a prospect – death for the believer is a step into the presence of Jesus, and, as Billy Graham said: “When I die, I shall be more alive than I have ever been!”

3. The Focus on the cross

What is Jesus discussing with Moses and Elijah? They are talking about his departure at Jerusalem. The cross was no accident, it was the deliberate choice of the Son of God, planned and talked about in heaven. From this point onwards the cross looks larger and larger in Luke’s narrative as Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem. What a hero!

4. The identity of Jesus

It is interesting to note that the two people seen with Jesus represent the law and Prophets, which were so revered in those days. God is saying in effect that Jesus has fulfilled the role of both those men. Peter has already declared that Jesus is the Christ – now we have the confirmation from heaven itself. It was a confirmation that those present would never forget, as Peter recounts:
“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[b] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1 v16-18)

5. The Need to Listen to Jesus

“Listen to Him”. Te command from God comes down the centuries to us. We know who Jesus – the command from heaven is to listen to Him and to obey Him. Are we doing that?

6. The Command to come down.

Peter, speaking presumably, on behalf of the others wants to stay on the mountain. Isn’t that just like us? There is a job to be done in the valley, but Peter wants to stay where is a sense of blessing and the presence of God. The fact is that we have a job to do in the valley. It’s not just about getting blessed – it’s about serving.

7. The Power for Service

We shan’t spend too much time considering the incident in the valley, but we see Jesus, unhappy at the unbelief of the disciples who were not able to minister as they should, the joy of a parent who brings their child to Jesus, and the reaction of a crowd who saw the defeat of evil. But the main point today that we want to draw from this incident is that Jesus empowers us to serve Him in the valley. There is a desperately need world out there and the only answer is a Spirit-empowered church who will draw on the resources of heaven to drive back the forces of evil.

8. The Task Ahead

So the question is – are we available, as individuals and as a church, for the work that God has for us in the valley? Jesus wants to be Lord of the Valley as well as Lord of the Mountain.

John MacDiarmid
August 2011

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