On the Move
Jesus conducted His earthly ministry in two ways. The bulk of His time was spent traveling around Galilee and Judea with a band of disciples, interacting with anyone He happened to meet. His daily schedule, as described in Mark chapter 1, involved proclaiming the gospel, teaching the truth, casting out demons, and healing the sick.
This portion of Jesus’ ministry was spontaneous, continual, pastoral, interactive, and egalitarian.
He simply met people right where they were and acted on their behalf. On one occasion, Jesus was entering a city called Nain, just as a funeral procession was leaving the city. Jesus was moved with compassion, and without even being asked He approached the widow and raised her son from the dead. No announcement of the kingdom of God was made or call sounded to leave all and follow Him. It was a one-directional interaction. God for man.
Many of those He helped in this way, didn’t follow Him or identify themselves with His cause (which was God’s cause- the kingdom of God). Luke’s story of the ten lepers shows that after being healed by Jesus, some didn’t even return to thank Him.
On the Mountain
However, there was another aspect of Jesus’ ministry, which can be identified geographically in Matthew’s Gospel. Periodically throughout His three year ministry, Jesus brought His disciples up to a mountain. In a sense, these can be considered the Lord’s conferences. They were given to the disciples, not to the crowds.
This portion of Jesus’ ministry was strategic, occasional, missional, directive, and particular.
On the mountain top, Jesus’ ministry took on another emphasis. The sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), the transfiguration (Matt. 17), the revelation of the end of the age with the signs of Christ’s coming (Matt. 24-25), and the great commission (Matt. 28) were all given on a mountain.
Matt. 5:1 And when He saw the crowds, He went up to the mountain. And after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
Matt. 17:1 And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain privately.
Matt. 24:3 And as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming and of the consummation of the age?
Matt. 28:16 And the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus directed them.
On the mountain Jesus revealed major truths. If you were a casual follower and never climbed the mountain with Him for these special events, you missed whole vistas of revelation. You missed major opportunities to hear something or experience something that would redirect the course of your life.
This is the sort of thing that happens at Christian conferences. And this apparently wasn’t lost on the Lord. He purposely got away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind with its incessant demands and distractions. This was not business as usual.
Of the thousands of people Jesus interacted with during His ministry, only 120 were there in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Most likely the people that carried on His move had climbed the mountain with Him before.
Peter referring to his experience on the mount of transfiguration, says that he became an “eyewitness of that One’s majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Yes you can always get the audio later, see the pictures on Facebook, and catch all the best quotes on Twitter, but you won’t feel the direct impact of being an eyewitness. There’s something about being there that changes you.
Only an eyewitness was a suitable replacement for Judas in the circle of the twelve (Acts 1:21-22).
Attending Christian conferences gives the Lord an opportunity to do something special in your life, appear to you in an unprecedented way, and call you into direct participation in His eternal economy.
Don’t miss the next one.