Finding Glory in Brokenness
There is a phrase that is sometimes used called ‘the mountain top experience’ and it aims to describe a powerful Christian encounter with God. Scripture has many Mountain Top Experiences.
Abraham showed his faith to God by being prepared to sacrifice his son on a mountain top, now believed to be where Jerusalem is built.
Moses receive the 10 commandments from God on a mountain top.
Elijah met with God on Mount Carmel.
Jesus starts his earthly ministry being tempted by the Devil on a mountain top and he ascends into heaven at the end of his earthly ministry from a mountain top.
Being on a Mountain top can bring another view of our world as you look down onto the world below.
Last year my wife & I where fortunate enough to visit Northern Spain, to a place called Asturias, full of Mountains. We travelled up the mountain side by bus getting higher and higher until we moved above the clouds to look down onto mountains poking up through the clouds, it was glorious and on top of this mountain was a beautiful lake surrounded by snow topped mountains and cows grazing. It was really beautiful and you felt as though you were on top of the world.
Another experience was to have some photographs given to us by the steeple jacks who came to make the Church Tower safe. The views from the Tower showed how incredibly green it is in the place where we live. Greenhill Road lives up to its name. What a different view we get from a higher place.
I was fortunate enough to go up onto Mount Tabor, south of the sea of Galilee, up the mountain reputed to be the Mount of the Transfiguration, this is what I wrote at the end of the day.
“We finished the day with a visit to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration took place. The Mountain is very high and we had to get mini buses to take us up there as the road is very windy. Jesus and the disciples must have been very fit and taken a long time to get up the mountain, which was the highest in the region. A Church had been built at the top and it was possible to reflect in the small downstairs chapel and to reflect outside by selecting a quiet spot overlooking the terrain. I can understand in this place the physical presence of God, Moses and Elijah being at the top of this mountain, almost in the clouds”. There is a Glory about being on a mountain top looking at the world in a different way.
Jesus walks up Mount Tabor for many hours, perhaps even days until, with Peter, James and John, he reaches the top, not to see the glorious view but to be glorified himself and Peter, James and John see him in a very different way. Peter later writes “For Jesus received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.”. It would seem to be a pinnacle in Jesus ministry.
The Transfiguration is written about in Matthew, Mark & Luke, the synoptic Gospels and it marks a turning point in Jesus ministry. In the first half of his ministry he is teaching about God’s kingdom, about God’s love for his people, about how to live a Godly life, about turning away from sins and receiving forgiveness and being free to start a new life in God. He shows his authority and who he is ‘God on earth’ through miracles of healing and driving out demons and confronting evil. This part of his ministry culminates in Peter declaring to Jesus “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” and Jesus declares that he is turning to Jerusalem to face his destiny where he must “undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” to pay for the sins of the world, to replace the judgement we would receive and to bring us into an intimate living relationship with God, if we seek this.
To mark this change, Jesus walks up the mountain and meets with the heavenly figures of Moses and Elijah representing the law and the prophets. It is Jesus Mountain top experience, but this isn’t to be the pinnacle of his achievements, this mountain top experience is to prepare him for the final journey, the final Exodus. In the first Exodus, Moses led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, Jesus will lead the final Exodus, taking all God’s people out of the slavery of sin and death, out of brokenness, to the new Promised Land, redeemed to God himself bought by the death of Jesus, no wonder his Father says ‘This is my Son, the chosen, listen to him’. Jesus is glorified between Moses and Elijah and the disciples see Jesus in his heavenly glory, the divine person bringing the kingdom of God to our world. There are links to Easter morning where the disciples encounter the empty tomb that confirms all that Jesus has been telling them, there are links to the ascension of Jesus into heaven to be glorified and sit at God’s right hand. There is the anticipation of Jesus coming again in glory to bring the whole world under his judgement. The Transfiguration is linking all that has been prophesied such as that in Daniel and all that will be such as Peter writes about as a witness to the glory of God in Jesus. It all becomes together in Jesus at his Transfiguration, but his glory is not the pinnacle of his ministry.
As he is glorified standing between Moses and Elijah we have a glimpse of the brokenness he is about to enter as he is nailed to a cross between two criminals.
In his glory Jesus descends the mountain top into the brokenness of the world healing the demon possessed boy, confronting the sin in the Temple, encountering the aggression against him, teaching about God’s love and how we should live and then submitting to arrest, torture and execution as he is broken on the cross for us, so that our sins are taken onto him.
Jesus in his Glory, the Son of God, God on earth, immerses himself in the brokenness of our world and then becomes broken himself for the broken.
Last week I prayed with people unfamiliar in so many ways with who Jesus Christ is as they grieved in brokenness the loss of a family member and friend and Christ came and gave them strength and peace and hope to live their lives. Last week I prayed with someone who is experiencing great sickness and the Holy Spirit came in such a powerful way in this brokenness showing Christ’s love and presence to give peace and strength and hope. Last week I was with someone who sought to put their total trust in Christ for their life ahead and to know peace and strength and hope.
Christ in his Glory doesn’t separate himself but enters the brokenness of humanity and becomes broken himself so that we in our brokenness can know his Glory and know his peace and strength and hope in our lives. It is through Christ in his glory entering our brokenness that we can come together as a Church and enjoy the Summer Fair and welcome others to experience the joy and peace of Christ’s presence.
Do we deserve this pouring out of God’s love to heal us? Are we worthy of this sacrifice of God on our behalf to mend our brokenness? Are we thankful and grateful for what he has done for us, even in suffering and especially in joy?
We cannot possibly be worthy enough or thankful enough or deserving enough for God’s grace, but Christ allows us in our brokenness to enter his glory, because in his glory he has entered our brokenness and become broken himself for us.
Our Mountain Top experience is to come to seek to know Christ in our brokenness and to receive his healing and his glory and to be transformed.