Sunday’s Gospel, the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, told of Jesus’s time on the mountain with Peter, James, and John and of His meeting Elijah and Moses on the summit, and it shows us that even Jesus in His man form was seldom left alone to conquer His battles, to climb His mountains.
The proper focus of this historical event is what occurred on the mountaintop, the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, and so we tend to forget there was a mountain to climb, and perhaps it was not a gently rolling hill kind of mountain with lush greenery and gently meandering streams. Perhaps the path was not well marked or paved with beautiful stones. Perhaps it would have been a rough and lonely trek without friends along the way.
Perhaps it was just the desire for companionship that made Jesus ask Peter, James, and John to go with Him. It is not as though He needed their word to convince others of what took place. Even without them, followers would have believed the Transfiguration. Doubters would have denied it. It is not as though Peter, James, and John took photos or documented the conversation Jesus had with Elijah and Moses and presented that as evidence of what took place.
We know Peter, James, and John went with Jesus but not why Jesus chose these three. It is not as though they left the mountain with questions answered. It is not as though they had any ability beyond what many others had. They were just like most other men. In fact, despite a few differences, over centuries, through spans of time and space, mankind is astonishingly similar to mankind. Even differences in ability, thought, and physical prowess are minute compared to the variance in God’s creation. Knowing this, Jesus could have chosen any random person to accompany Him, and yet, He chose Peter, James, and John.
So why these three?
It is not as though no one else would have gone to the mountain with our Lord. He had thousands following Him. In fact, perhaps just important a question as why did Jesus choose these three to accompany Him is how did He tell the others not to? How and why did Jesus tell the multitudes not to follow Him that day? With so many people clambering on His every word and deed, how was He able to get some time alone with these three close companions?
Sometimes saying no to those who want your time and attention can feel nearly impossible.
Throughout history, individuals have struggled to climb their own mountains. Each of us is faced with unique difficulties and challenges, obstacles and downfalls, and we tend to see the mountains of others with eyes that miss the ruggedness of their paths. We tend to think we are alone on our mountains.
We may read about another’s struggles. We may listen to their pain firsthand. We may visit them on their mountain, and they may visit us on ours. We may cry with them and really feel their pain, but we always return to our own places, leaving our friends and family members on their own mountains just as they leave us on ours.
It doesn’t mean we love them less or wouldn’t climb their mountains for them if we could sometimes, but we cannot. Each of us has his or her own mountain to climb.
And few of us will make it to the top.
And none of us will make it alone.
Thankfully, we don’t have to. Just as Jesus had companions to climb with, we are given companions to walk with each day and choosing our traveling companions wisely is vitally important, especially when making a climb.
When climbing mountains, fatigue and fear can make us vulnerable. Isolation can make us wish for any traveling companions.
But those who have climbed to the summit know the wrong companions can weigh you down, hold you back, and even prevent you from reaching the top at all.
In extreme mountain climbing, the wrong companion means certain death.
Just as Jesus choose which friends should climb the mountain with Him, we also must choose wisely those who we will permit to climb the mountain with us.
Just as Jesus must have said no to many followers, we too must say no to those who will not help us reach our heavenly goals.
The Bible tells us,
Walk with the wise and you become wise,
but the companion of fools fares badly
The Lord sends us traveling companions whether we are on our mountains or enjoying peace in a lush valley. Some of those companions will stick with us through a lifetime. Others will contribute no more than a passing glance we will forget almost at once.
And every one of them will have their own mountains to climb. Some may be climbing mountains invisible to us even though we think we know them well. We cannot judge another by the mountains he appears to be presented with or how he has conquered or been conquered by them. We cannot judge our mountains by those others appear to climb.
Instead, we must put one foot in front of the other. Vow to make it to the top, to not get overwhelmed by the next boulder, the next wild animal, the next cliff, the next gust of wind. Root yourself to the mountains. Wisely and gratefully cling to those companions who will help you make it.
And know that, just as the Lord was with Peter, James, and John that day even though they failed to recognize Him as such, He is also with you on your way to the top, and He is rooting for you. He is giving you companions who will help you make it, and He is hoping you will choose wisely, stay in peak condition, and help them summit their mountains too.
Make the Lord your constant companion. Let Him take the lead and show you your right path, let Him lift you when you stumble and fall. Learn the power, strength, and wisdom of saying no to those who would weigh you down. Take only those companions who recognize the importance of what you are trying to accomplish, not those who can only see the boulder ahead or those who might push you off the cliff.
Please join me for part three of this discussion, and if you missed part one, please go here.