Dylan Lowy-1st Year Confirmand
And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
-Isaiah 58:11 NRSV
The Joyful Noise children’s choir is singing a medley of ‘Beautiful Savior,’ an ode to the enduring reign of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and ‘Come to the Mountain,’ where the lyrics teach about the Transfiguration and remind us to come the mountain to hear God’s word and see the light, but also to go back down into our valley homes to serve. What a wonderful lesson for the children, and for those blessed to hear the children singing it!
Before being transfigured before his disciples eyes on a mountaintop, and prior to dying on a cross to become that beautiful savior, Jesus was alone and fasting in the desert. While there, the devil met up with Jesus on the top of the highest mountain. Whether or not Jesus climbed up with human strength while fasting, or was somehow metaphysically transported there by the devil, or was spiritually there through deep meditation is immaterial. However he got to the the top of the mountain would have been a fantastic feat worthy of euphoric reward.
The devil didn’t have to explain himself. He just displayed the splendorous view and presented the temptation. Just as in selling real estate, the view is quite important: “Look at this view; can’t you see yourself living here?” Who wouldn’t want to live in a place overlooking and ruling the world without actually having to live in it or see the gritty details? Temptation is so mighty, so strong, that you dare to look down without falling, that you dare to dream big dreams of grandeur, that you dare to think you deserve more than anyone else to to be at the zenith, because, well, just think what it took for you to get there!
But the mountaintop is also a place of humility, spirituality, discernment and vision. Feet planted on the largest rock in sight while the body is buffeted by wind is somewhat destabilizing. It requires focus to stand firm. The air is thinner, the wind swirls through ears and hearts and minds, and stability falters under the dizzying heights. The view is not obstructed above or below. Clarity of thought is possible and what lies inside the heart is swept into plain view.
Jesus couldn’t agree to the devil’s offer because while the offer was deceptive and evil, his heart was not. The splendorous view of the world was not evil. The raw forces of nature on the mountaintop were not evil. Even attaining the highest point was not evil. Evil would have been looking down from the mountain without compassion, seeking glory without service, and turning his back on the creator God who sent him into the world.
Dearest Lord, we thank you for glorious mountaintop experiences and the inspiring visions that you provide for us in this world. Stay fast in our hearts as we discern the true meaning of these experiences and visions. With your presence always near, help us to resist the temptation to stay removed from the world on the mountaintop and be with us as we serve in the valley instead. Amen.