Trying to think about life and how God makes it full

Mountain-top experiences, Part 1; Luke 9:28-36

mountain_17905.jpgIn the previous passage to this one, Jesus had been at prayer with the disciples and had spoken with them about the cost of discipleship. Now he takes three of them up the mountain to pray again with him.

Its interesting to note that there are times in Jesus’ prayer life when he’s alone, when he’s at prayer with the disciples, and when he’s at prayer with only a few of them. In this passage, he takes with him Peter, James, and John. These are the same three whom he takes to be with him when he goes apart from the rest of the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on the last night of his life.

As he was praying, Jesus’ appearance changed and his clothing became dazzling white. What a freakout that must’ve been for the disciples. There was something happening to, and with Jesus, during this time of prayer, that they hadn’t seen before. I wonder if it had happened to Jesus before this in his times of prayer when he was alone….

And then the great prophets of old, Moses and Elijah, come and speak with Jesus about his future departure, which was to happen at Jerusalem. Moses had been dead for around 1500(?) years, and Elijah for 800(?), but here they are speaking with Jesus. Surely this must speak of life after death – resurrection!

Then the story goes that the disciples were ‘heavy with sleep’, but they managed to stay awake. I should think they would stay awake with such a dazzling lightshow going on, not to mention the appearance of two of the greatest prophets who ever lived!

But these disciples are the same disciples who were later to fall asleep during Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane. Why were they so tired during these prayer times? The texts don’t speak about Jesus being tired during his prayer times. Did he have a different sense of connection with God, and a renewed sense of energy during prayer times?

Sometimes I feel deeply connected with God, and proportionately energised. At other times, I too, fall asleep during prayer. In public settings, I tend not to fall asleep when I’m the one responsible for leading the prayer time. But when others are responsible for leading it, I do find myself drifting off sometimes.

But how would it be possible to fall asleep with Jesus being transformed before your eyes, with two of the ancient heroes of faith appearing and talking with your Master; and the appearance of God in the classic Old Testament form of the cloud on the mountain speaking to the disciples!

No wonder they didn’t say anything about it to anyone – they would’ve thought them mad!


January 8, 2007 - Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion


  1. Thanks for your post. And for the reminder to stay awake in God. (beautiful pic also. where is it from?)

    Comment by storbakken | January 8, 2007 | Reply

  2. Thanks storbakken. I got the picture from a google images search, and its in the north island of new zealand, tho’ I can’t remember exactly where (tho’ I have a vague recollection that it could be somewhere on the east coast of the north island….anyone recognise it?)

    Comment by revtc | January 8, 2007 | Reply

  3. That’s great. It’s also good to find another UK blogger… we seem few and far between compared to those in the States!
    Every blessing
    Maria in the UK

    Comment by Maria | January 9, 2007 | Reply

  4. thanks for looking in maria, and for your encouragement.
    it does seem that wordpress picks up more americans than english people, but there are plenty of us about.
    have a look through my blogroll…
    with every blessing.

    Comment by revtc | January 9, 2007 | Reply

  5. I have wondered the same thing, how could they possibly sleep. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak,perhaps that’s the answer.
    I too have drifted off when others have been praying to be honest and wondered, would I really have been dfferent?
    We all want to hope so! But would we have been?

    Personally it all depends on the setting, on my state of being and the depth of communion with Christ.
    Am I just going through the motions? Or moved from the depth of my spirit to pray? Do I enter in to worship Him, behold His presence..?

    Sometimes the most enjoyable times of communion are the natural conversations throughout the day as I “pray without ceasing”, but the most powerful are when called into deep intercession, alone, seeking him so earnestly and feeling His presence so powerfully I can hardly breathe.
    Too few and far between, but awesome when they come.

    Thanks for the good post!
    Blessings to you,

    Comment by faithwalk | January 9, 2007 | Reply

  6. The Snow Queen Pantomime (Part One)

    I was interested in your comment to “faithwalk” on 8 January:
    “New forms of Mission are desperately needed these days”
    Paradoxically, I can both totally agree and totally disagree with that statement.
    I remember vividly 40 years ago walking along a street in Edinburgh with a Jesuit priest who said to me
    “The truth is to be found in Paradox”
    I did not have a clue what he meant by that, but it sounded good, and many years later I found myself in total absolute agreement with him.

    Except when we are using our basic human scientific skills, I do not think it is possible for a human being to say anything that has not already been said, probably by the Greeks or earlier civilisations – so in one sense we do not need new forms of mission. All it needs is for two or three to gather and …. ??????????
    And the comment by “faithwalk” that
    “It is a different world than it was ten years ago”
    seems to be totally contradicted by your stunning picture of the mountain – which has probably not changed much for millions of years, although the thin covering of vegetation will have evolved and adapted to different environments.
    In the same way human nature has thankfully remained unchanged – basically good, with a huge potential for creativity … spirituality ….. and LOVE

    However the ways we gather together can evolve and change … … and gathering together is a form of art or culture.
    This Christmas time I gathered together with a few hundred other people, as I do every Christmas time, for the traditional pantomime at the Theatre Royal in Stratford. I detest (and I use that word deliberately) people who say that Pantomime (or Christmas) is for children. Pantomime is for everyone. I hope do not sound offensive when I say that pantomime (done well) has all the elements of the mystical and/or magical contained in the verses you quoted from Luke.
    And how can anyone, who is at all human, fall asleep during Pantomime!

    Pantomime is not a new form of art (or mission) but it still does show us the possibilities of a different world.
    However, cynics will tell us a different world is just wishful thinking and a naïve childish dream.
    To counter argue these totally boring cynics, who in my opinion are just a waste of space, I print below the first part of a poem I wrote about “Wishful Thinking”

    (An attempt to reconcile our Scientific and Spiritual Worlds)

    There is a world we know with our head.
    The world of facts.

    But is there another world?
    A world we used to know,
    Or should have known, as children?
    A world of Myth and Fable
    A world once known by Greek and Aztec
    By Celt and Indian
    And many other races now long extinct.

    LIVE – Feel Connected (sometimes) – Be Joyful (sometimes)

    Comment by Lawrence Woods | January 14, 2007 | Reply

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