Here is my next chapter. Hope you are enjoying this and comments welcomed.
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos
Down The Mountain To The Valley To Confront Life
In our last chapter we were on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses, Elijah, Jesus and God. What an experience that must have been. An experience where one would like to remain enjoying the high they may have been on, the memories of that great event, basking in the afterglow of that moment but alas it canâ€™t be. Instead they have to come down the mountain to the valley below where life is lived and pandemonium reigns supreme. Though the view may be great from the mountain top nothing much generally grows there and very few people live there. Itâ€™s down in the valley that most people live, where life is confronted and dealt with, and where the temptations, trials, tests and battles of life are fought and either lost or won. Quite often it can seem to be a place of frustration, weakness and where everything that can go wrong does. Our intentions may be good but no matter how much we try we just donâ€™t seem to get it and evil seems to be laughing at us as we stand there powerless and seemingly helpless. That is the situation Jesus, Peter, James and John encounter when they arrive at the bottom of the mountain everything is in an uproar.
Again the incident is found in all three of the synoptic gospels. [i] According to Mark when Jesus comes to the disciples ( the 9 left behind when Jesus and the other 3 went up the mountain)there was a great crowd surrounding them and a argument was going on with the scribes. Jesus asks about what they are discussing. The disciples say nothing but an unnamed man to ask help for his epileptic son who has problems with seizures caused by demonic possession which causes the boy to fall into the fire, water, foam at the mouth, to be mute and become rigid.[ii]Â The disciples had been trying to unsuccessfully cast the demon out and are totally frustrated. Jesus also seems to be frustrated wondering about what he calls a faithless and perverse generation and how long he will be with them and bear with them,[iii]This message seems to be directed at his disciples and is say they are unbelieving which he finds amazing. In calling them perverse he is saying they misinterpret, distort, corrupt and turn away from truth. Ouch no wonder Jesus may be frustrated. He is planning on leaving the disciples in a few weeks after which they will be in charge to get his message out. Yet they seem not to be able to grasp the fundamentals of who Jesus is or how anything works. They are seemingly powerless and stuck in the present. All they can seem to do is argue with the scribes rather than getting the job done and bringing a change, an answer to the problem and allowing God to use them to perform a miracle. So Jesus intervenes and heals the boy frustrating the disciples even more. So they ask him why they couldnâ€™t cast the demon out and are informed that certain types of demonic power can only be broken by prayer and fasting implying the disciples may have been doing neither.[iv]
Disciples are followers of someone and specifically in this case Jesus. Please note they donâ€™t cease to be disciples because of their actions, They remain disciples operating in unbelief which distorts the truth, corrupts it, turns them away from truth and leads to argumentation which solves nothing. Jesus intervenes and saves the day, a boy is healed and a miracle takes place. The disciples fail apparently because they werenâ€™t fasting and praying.Â As used here fasting means to abstain from something like food. Praying means to pray to God in supplication.Â Supplication is to make a petition, prayer or request of someone.
We today are modern day followers or disciples of Jesus. Like the early disciples we encounter problems and we may react in unbelief. We may think God will do it for others but not me, or I am not worthy or donâ€™t have enough faith. Perhaps we believe the age of miracles has passed and God no longer works like he did in New Testament days. However I believe we need to take a good look at ourselves and our situation, realize a few things, make some adjustments and when we do we will find ourselves a conduit of blessing and change flowing to others. Why is this?
We need to realize too we canâ€™t do this on our own. The disciples tried and failed miserably. The scriptures teach us that here is a way which seems right to a man but the end thereof is death,[v]This is because our thoughts and ways are not Godâ€™s ways as his ways are far superior and above our ways or how we think.[vi]If we try to do it on our own we will create a lot of commotion with no locomotion and end up going nowhere fast. Instead we will be stuck in the same place unable to move on or be a channel for blessing, healing and change. However there is a solution and a way out for us. Something happens when Jesus arrives on the scene and takes control. We are the hands and feet of Jesus to the world today.. Mark says signs will follow those who believe.[vii]Luke tells us that power will come on us to be witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes on us.[viii]This agrees with Jesus who says that the works he did we would do and greater works.[ix]In and of ourselves we are nothing and can do nothing. However combine belief and the power of the Holy Spirit we can change and we can also change our world. It is what transformed the disciples from cowards who denied the Lord and hid behind locked doors out of fear to fearless and brave people who would stand up on Pentecost proclaiming the good news of the resurrection totally unafraid of what might happen to them. Never again would they deny the Lord and would go into the entire world with the gospel and all with the exception of John would be martyred for their faith. This is what it will take to bring about the permanent change that the transfiguration points us to. It is what will help us going forth in our journey to Jerusalem and all that will transpire there. When we can deny ourselves, pray and get hold of God, then we can become channels of blessing, healing and love to others. For prayer is not about long we pray, what language we use or how fancy our speech. Equally it is not necessarily about how emotional we can get, whether we can cry a ocean full of tears, stomp around, plead the blood, rebuke the devil or have ourselves one great royal â€śspiritualâ€ť fit. Itâ€™s not complicated we just need to be able to get hold of God and his will and do it. If that can be done in 10 seconds great. If it takes one hour, a day, week, month or even years so be it and that is okay too. We need to be able to believe and hold on till the answer comes no matter how long it takes and never give up.
However there is a warning here we need to see and heed. Beware of pride. According to Luke just after the healing of the boy by Jesus there arises an argument among the disciples as to which of them is greatest,[x]Â Each had their stories how why they were the greatest and I am sure Peter, James and John thought surely it is us as we were the ones who got to see Jesus transfigured as well as see Moses and Elijah no one else got that privilege Surely that meant they were something special and therefore candidates for being greatest. John even forbids a man from teaching about Jesus because the man didnâ€™t belong to their group. However there is one slight problem here.Â Solomon says that pride goes before a fall and destruction,[xi]This the disciples would prove during Christâ€™s passion when they would proclaim their devotion to Jesus and how they would gladly die for him and would never deny him.[xii]So sure are they of themselves that in the garden when Jesus tells them to watch and pray they promptly fall asleep.[xiii]Then when the soldiers arrive to arrest Jesus its like okay Jesus we know we promised to die for you. However we just changed our minds. Been nice knowing you but were out of here. They go to the Upper Room where they cower behind locked doors fearing they might be killed even as Jesus would be.[xiv]Â Peter follows afar off yet when he gets his chance to be a witness for Jesus and stand with him promptly denies him three times.
The same thing can happen to us. We can become full of pride as Godâ€™s anointing and Spirit use and works through us to reach and help others. We can think look at me and see what I can do forgetting it is God working through us that enables us to do anything. We forget t when God says he is the Lord and his glory he will share with no one else.[xv]Instead we need to do what James advises us to do which is humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord that he may exalt us.[xvi]Humble as used here in the Greek means to humiliate, and to abase oneâ€™s self by bringing oneâ€™s self low. This is not an invitation to throw a big pity party where we cry and tell everyone what a worm we are and how we are no good. God says baloney to that idea. Instead it is to realize that without God we are nothing. However in God we are something and our journey through life is to help us realize that and become all God made us to be and do. Paul says we are more than conquerors through Jesus.[xvii]However this wonâ€™t happen if we treat our journey and struggles as a spectatorâ€™s sport where we get to sit, watch and cheer everyone else on. Neither will it happen by arguments and fighting among ourselves. Nor yet will it happen if we wait for God to do it all. Since we are the hands and feet of God then he wonâ€™t move more than likely without us. On the other hand we canâ€™t move successfully in God without him. That being the case then let take the power given us by the Holy Spirit, rise up in the Spirit and power of Jesus, go live for him transforming our world into a place where the rule and peace of God can reign supreme. It has been said you donâ€™t have a cause worth living for until you have one worth dying for. I believe Jesus is worth dying for and therefore worth living for and taking to the ends of the earth.
We are on our way under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and Jesus determined to make it to the resurrection. Itâ€™s a good start but there is still more. Hang in there with me and join me for the next step on this journey.
[i]Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-45
[ii]MatthewÂ 17:15, Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39
[iii] Matthew 17:17, Mark 9:19, Luke 9:41
[iv] Matthew 17:19-21, Mark 9:28-29 (NKJV)
[xiii]Matthew 26:38-46, Mark 14:33-42, Luke 22:44-46
[xiv] Mark 14:50, Matthew 26:56b