Go up into the cloud to come back to the crowd
There’s something powerful about praying in a triplet – if you can get down to praying more than sharing, it keeps you focused onto doing business with the Father. Jesus takes the trio of Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. There’s something powerful about going away to pray together and going up a mountain to pray too.
This time there is a huge power encounter. Jesus is transfigured. His glory is unveiled and revealed to the three disciples in a much greater measure than they had yet seen. “Yes Peter, I am the long awaited Christ, the Son of God!” Moses’ and Elijah’s appearance represented all of the old covenant – the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) – I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation! “Hey Jesus, it was all about you! Pointing to you! Glad you have come for them. We longed for this…” is kind of how I imagined they would speak!
Peter wants to stay on the mountain top – he wants to make some tents, like they do for the feast of Tabernacles, to stick around in the glory. But the point of going up to the cloud, certainly until Jesus comes back, is to go back to the crowd. So after the Father affirms Jesus again – “This is my Son, my Chosen One; Listen to Him!” – they go back down to the crowd, treasuring the experience in their hearts (not posting the video on YouTube!).
The next day they get to the crowd. There’s a boy with an evil spirit first – Jesus rebukes it, casts it out and the people are astonished at the majesty of God.
Jesus next reminds them that He isn’t here to heal those present, wonderful though that it is, He has come to die for them, so many more could be saved, healed and delivered, over generations. The disciples, we are told, don’t understand that yet – they will, when the Spirit comes!
Jesus has entrusted them with authority over sickness and demons, as He has us. Gifting is freely given of grace, character is grown by good choices – in vv. 46-48 we see the disciples arguing over who is the greatest. You can be a Christian for 30 secs and heal someone or a decades old believer and heal someone. Jesus gives us that authority – he is looking for us to grow a maturity, knowing it’s Him that does it through us, and a servant-hearted mentality. So choose humility.
The last incident in vv. 51-55 sees a Samaritan village rejecting the gospel. The Samaritans were descendants of Israelites from the northern part of Israel, who had stayed behind when the first exile happened in judgement, and intermarried with indigenous peoples. They rejected most of the Old Testament and so were considered unclean and impure by the “true” Israelites. This village rejects the gospel because they don’t like the fact that Jesus is heading towards the hated capital. James and John want to call down fire on the village – which deserves the rebuke from Jesus. This is the age of grace and favour, time for people to process and respond, not judgement yet.
So what do we get from today’s readings to take with us to work and play today?
- Encounter God in the cloud whenever you can – at life group, when we gather on Sundays, in your own times with the Lord
- Bring that encounter to the crowd – the people around us. The Spirit is in you, for you, and upon you for the crowd.
- Don’t get puffed up when God uses you – the gifting is free, character comes by good choices.
- Love those who reject you and the Lord, don’t call down fire on them! They know not what they are doing.