You’d be hard-pressed to find a scene more stunning than the sun setting over the Rocky Mountains. I spent a lot of time in Colorado this summer and the view never got old. Those mountains are captivating. My son and I intended to take on the challenge of climbing a “14er” (a mountain over 14,000 feet), but with my bad knee we never did.
Mountains aren’t easy to climb. That’s why mountain climbing is often a metaphor for Christian discipleship. That’s also why mountains are often associated with difficult challenges.
I think that’s what Jesus was referencing when he said: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21)
But in the Bible, more often than not, mountains represent significant events in which God interacts with humans for their benefit. In fact, that’s where the phrase “mountaintop experience” comes from. Throughout the Bible, from Mount Ararat to Mount Tabor, God meets his people on mountains and teaches us something about himself.
Mountains were significant to other religions, too. The Greek gods were said to be hiding in the clouds atop Mount Olympus. Who would you meet when you ascended Mount Olympus? You’d meet gods that look very much like you and me – feckless, petty, vain, angry, vengeful.
But when the God of the Bible reaches to us on the earth, we meet someone very different from us. We meet a God who is trustworthy, providing for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. We meet a God who doesn’t hide from us but wants to be known by us. We find a God who is utterly faithful. A God who is all-powerful. A God who loves us so much that he sent his own Son to take the punishment of our sin.
And in the climbing, we’ll also learn something about ourselves in the process. Join us this week as my sermon series “Manifold Witness” continues and we’ll discuss it.