Thesis:True discipleship requires an approach to God that is both genuine and humble.
Introduction:In our study last week we began to look into Luke 9:28-36. Because the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to reference an "eighth day" timing factor in distinction from His inspiration of both Matthew and Mark to address the same event in terms of a "six days" timing factor, I set about to attempt to discern why He would do that. I decided there were two reasons: 1) to give those looking for an excuse to refuse Jesus' summons to discipleship what they wanted; and 2) to emphasize the reality that the decision to be a "disciple" is a decision to embark upon a radically "new" Life.
Having made that point, Luke moved into two further matters: mountains and prayer. This morning we are going to spend our time considering Luke's record of Jesus' exposure of Peter, John, and James to a visible manifestation of His identity as the King of the coming Kingdom of God as a matter of "mountain prayer".
I. The Issue of "the Mountain".
A. The first text regarding "mountains" in Luke's record is 3:5.
1. It is no "accident" that this first reference has a two-referenced meaning as it comes out of Isaiah.
a. In Isaiah's record, there are two teachings regarding the proper response of the people to the coming of Messiah.
1) One of those teachings is the declaration that there will be a physical highway built in the wilderness that levels the terrain so there can be an extraordinary ease of travel [Note particularly Isaiah 57:14 and 62:10].
2) The other of those teachings is the application of the characteristics of the physical terrain to the condition of the hearts of man so that they may come to "repentance".
b. This fundamental teaching -- that the physical world is a door to the understanding of the non-material world of relational realities -- is critical to Luke's record.
1) The use of the "mountain" reality as fundamental to his reader's grasp of the concept of a "repentance" that brings one into a relationship with God is critical to Luke's entire effort of presenting Jesus as a legitimate object of faith.
2) At the very heart of Luke's doctrine of a living relationship with God is the meaning of "the mountain".
2. A cursory reading of Isaiah's record in respect to "mountains" leaves us with this impression: "mountains" refer to the issue of "someone's sovereignty".
a. The most convincing text is Isaiah 2:2-3 wherein the issue is that the Lord's "mountain" will be the place where the details of His rule shall be taught.
b. With this concept of "rule" established as early as chapter two as a "mountain" reality, it is not difficult to see that the issue of "repentance" in regard to "mountains" is the issue of answering one question: "Whose method is going to be applied to the situation in view?".
1) This involves the fact that every situation raises this question.
2) This also involves the fact that the "method" issue is "situation-specific".
3) This means that the situation involving "repentance" is the issue of the situation in 3:5 wherein "the forgiveness of sins" is the paramount issue and the question of "method" is that of Law or Grace.
B. Given this "first text" focus on this "one" question, the fact that there are two specific texts in Luke to "Jesus", "the mountain", and "prayer" becomes enormously enlightening.
1. In Luke 6:12 we are told that Jesus spent all night in prayer to God on "the mountain".
a. The "articular" reference to an unspecified mountain is revealing: the specific geographical place is unimportant, but the specific relational heart-attitude is crucial beyond measure.
b. The "situation-specific" issue in this context is Jesus' selection of "The Twelve".
1) The significance of "The Twelve" in respect to "the mountain" is revealed in Luke 22:30.
a) Jesus was charged, as the Father's "anointed", with laying the groundwork for the execution of the Father's Eternal Plan for a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.
b) His choice of those "twelve" who would execute the responsibilities of that Kingdom in regard to the Twelve Tribes was, therefore, of utmost importance.
2) In the light of His responsibility, Jesus spent the entire night in prayer to God so that He might know the Father's heart and mind regarding those "twelve".
a) There is no indication that Jesus went up on the mountain to lobby God all night for His (Jesus') choices.
b) Rather, the overwhelming issue for Jesus is presented as a determined intention of discovering the Father's choices and, then, pursuing them.
2. In our current text (9:28) we are told that Jesus took three of The Twelve up an unspecified, but "articular", mountain for the specific purpose of "prayer".
a. The "situation-specific issue in this context is whether the "chosen" will have the "faith" to actually develop into the kind of men who can legitimately rule from their thrones.
1) There is no teaching in the Scriptures that permits anyone to think that what they are going to do in Eternity is separate from what they learn in Time.
2) The "problem" for these men is that their entire "being" was set from birth to oppose the essential principles of the Kingdom of God and the "problem" for Jesus is how to overcome that birth-established opposition.
b. As Jesus was praying, at least a part of the solution was given: the major hindrance to "faith" was erased.
II. The Issue of "Prayer".
A. At issue in "prayer" are two major items.
1. "Prayer" is a real conversation with a real Person.
a. In Luke 18:11 Jesus taught that "words" that carried no "truth" in them were not, in any sense, "prayer to God" but, instead, were simply "fake prayer" (Matthew 6:7 says that there is a widespread misconception of such "prayer").
b. In Luke 20:47 Jesus taught that "fake prayer" elicits only one reaction from God: greater condemnation for attempting to use "prayer" to get one's own way.
c. There is no reality to "prayer" that is not rooted in a "truthful" conversation with a very Real Responder.
2. "Prayer" is not intended to be a way to get God to accept our agenda and method(s); it is supposed to be a way to find out His agenda and method(s).
a. In both 22:40 and 22:46 Jesus declared that "prayer" was designed to empower a human to refrain from false agendas and methods.
b. This requires that humans understand that they do not understand so that they may enter into the presence of the understanding God and be fortified against delusion in either agenda or method.
B. At issue in Jesus' "prayer" in our text are two factors.
1. The first is the actual outworking of the "truth" He had uttered as a "prophet" King in the hearing of The Twelve: some among you will see the Kingdom of God.
a. Jesus did not "do" this Himself.
b. Jesus put himself in the position of submission on "the mountain" so that God could do this.
2. The second is that the very issue that would lay the groundwork to resolve the "problem" of the Three was brought into play: Jesus was identified as the King Whose words could be trusted absolutely.
A. The details of the outworking of the Grand Plan are in God's hands.
B. Human participation with God in the outworking of those details is offered to us on the basis of three fundamental "conditions".
1. We can not ever approach God on "His" mountain as if it were "our" mountain.
2. We can not "play" with "prayer" as a method to impress people instead of conversing with God.
3. We can not disallow what God establishes as "truth" by His words, Spirit, and sovereign oversight of our events.