As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
You go up the mountain to receive something: a beautiful and inspiring view, to achieve something. Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments.
But when you come down the mountain, all the excitement is over. You’ve learned or received the revelation, insight, wisdom, knowledge. Now, you’re returning to the land of the normal once again.
Each year, about 800 people paying upwards of $75,000 to climb Mount Everest. They each have their own, unique reasons for the years of training, cost, and risk. Many climb Mount Everest to show that they can achieve anything. Some want a once-in-a-lifetime experience to relive for the rest of their lives.
But interestingly enough, most of the deaths on Mount Everest occur on the descent. Depending on your source, somewhere between 73% - 85% of deaths on Mount Everest occur on the way down. It’s not the climb up, but the trip down that’s the most dangerous.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. It’s not the climb up as you struggle to take one step closer to God. With God. It’s also not the mountain-top experience, or the “camp high” that’s the most dangerous. No, it’s the return to reality where people trip, fall, injure themselves.
It’s in this most dangerous environment that Jesus gives Peter, James, and John his most demanding instruction. They are NOT to talk about the great experiences and truths they lived through on the mountain top.
They saw Jesus transformed and shine like the sun. They heard the voice of God declare that Jesus was God and that the Father was hopelessly and eternally in love with his Son. But God did not stop there, the command and instruction directly from the voice of God was to listen to him. Obey him. Cange and conform our lives to follow him.
I don’t know about you, but this sure sounds like something I’d want to talk about! Shout about. Grab strangers on the street, at work, in the grocery store and tell them my story, my experience.
How many people, after experiencing something like this, would go crazy writing about it on social media? How many videos would they post about their spiritual ecstasy?
But Jesus goes in another direction. He gives them an order, an explicit command that cannot be misunderstood. There’s no question about the fact of what they saw and experienced on the mountaintop. And there’s no question or misunderstanding about Jesus’ wishes, instructions, command.
They must have been about to bust. Holding this experience and news inside was a great test of both obedience and controlling themselves.
And here’s the great and unexpected news; they kept it to themselves! They actually obeyed Jesus and only talked about it between the three of them. Many of the people that Jesus healed were told not to talk about it. But many of them proceeded to blab it to just about everyone they met.
Each of us has secrets. And for some of these secrets, we need a wide circle of friends to share it with. But there are other secrets that we need to keep close and only share with God and a small group of close, intimate friends. Transparency is great, but some things in life require a much smaller group of friends to share it with.
Yes, we need to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” But, sometimes we need to exercise discretion about our lives. About our past. About our pain.
I have something in my past that was so very painful. I don’t talk about it much. But when I do, I mask it in very general terms to hide the details. Only when I’ve built a deep, personal relationship will I dare to think about the possibility of openly sharing it.
I had been building a relationship with a couple over time and we were sitting in an airport, catching some lunch before boarding our plane rides home. As I listened to my friends, I knew that there was brokenness in the husband’s life. So, I screwed up my courage and briefly shared my own particular brand of hurt.
Much to my surprise, he stared into my face and started to share that he had experienced the same thing. From that moment on, our relationship deepened to new heights. But it wouldn’t have happened if this “mountain descending” experience was all over the landing page of my life.
There are no such restrictions about talking to Jesus. Anything, everything, is appropriate. There are no deep secrets that he doesn’t already know. There’s nothing you can say that will shock him. And there’s nothing you can share that will keep him away. He’s not like that.
This is the real normal that life is supposed to be like. Don’t you want a relationship with someone like that? Don’t you need a relationship with God like that?