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.
When and where’s the next one?
You tell me! Next conference at Latham Springs is March 1-3, 2013. But there are plenty of other opportunities before that.
I agree. Even though we should not base our relationship with God on conferences and high peaks of God’s speaking in such events, we definitely need these events! It is here that we can receive the Lord’s speaking and His special shining in an unprecedented way!
I have to admit that whenever I attend a conference, I come back as a changed man – there’s a stronger vision, a greater inward impulse, and an overall encouragement to go on with the Lord and in the church!
I think both are crucial. They impact us in different ways. I’ve known so many people though who have gone to a conference, mission trip, or even just a vacation to visit far away churches and come back with an enlarged burden. An earthquake relief trip to Taiwan my sophmore year in high school for a week deeply affected me. Even just to get away for a weekend regional conference can do a lot for people.
Glad to hear your experience is similar!
Great read showing the importance of giving the Lord some time, even an entire weekend, in our busy schedules to hear a fresh word.
These retreats and conferences were the best times to that I got re-calibrated to Christ. Some of the things I heard those formative years changed my life forever.
Re-calibrated is a good way of putting it. I can’t imagine going on for years without attending conferences. I’ve noticed that it’s possible for my vision to dim if it’s not constantly renewed.
Amen! And probably it’s the price we have to pay, including denying the self, that makes the difference.
I totally agree. Paying a price is a huge factor. Why do you think that is?
Hymn 631 says:
If I’d know Christ’s risen power.
I must ever love the Cross;
Life from death alone arises;
There’s no gain except by loss.
If no death, no life,
If no death, no life;
Life from death alone arises;
If no death, no life.
So good to be up on the mountain! Thanks for posting Kyle. We absolutely need these occasional, specific, and missional times with Christ. A special word for those who would come away out of the everyday noise to listen.
Thanks. How else would you describe this aspect of Jesus’ ministry? Any other words come to mind?
I can testify that every time I’ve been “up to the mountain” has been better than the previous time. And I look forward to many more mountaintop experiences at conferences in the years to come!
Awesome! That’s so encouraging to hear. What would you say to someone hesitating to go to a conference, knowing how good they’ve been for you? How do you help them see the value?
This is really good. I’ve been to a number of conferences and have enjoyed them all, but this post gave me a deeper appreciation for what the Lord is able to do in these times. Especially the part that only an eyewitness could replace Judas– wow!
To me conferences are part of the regular process of becoming useful. If you missed it, you missed it. The experience of Thomas comes to mind.
This has definitely been my experience! Thank the Lord for the Mountains.
I totally agree. Christian conferences changed the direction of my life on multiple occasions. “On the mountain Jesus revealed major truths.” There’s something about the atmosphere of a conference for the Lord to able to speak a particular and direct work to us.
You’re right about the atmosphere. Atmosphere is more powerful than most people realize. Look at Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem. He was clear that the law was over. Read Galatians. But he encountered an atmosphere in Jerusalem that he couldn’t resist.
The same thing happens to a small degree in conferences. While we can’t live on the effects of atmospheres, they are beneficial in propelling us forward and causing us to have great searchings and resolutions of heart (Judges 5:15-16).
Also, I think the Lord uses atmospheres to move people to consecration. While the high of the conference may fade, the reality of that consecration doesn’t and the Lord will take us up on it. I’m thinking of Jacob in Gen 28.
This is right on:
“This portion of Jesus’ ministry was strategic, occasional, missional, directive, and particular… 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.”
I also appreciate the importance of being away from the hustle-and-bustle of our personal universe. Instead of being in the midst of “chaos,” we are being carried away to a higher ground where the sky is clearer and the perspective expands broader.
It’s amazing! The Lord is always there but when we’re put in a more conducive environment, we see more because our heart becomes less occupied.
Bro, I’m totally feeling this post! That last section really brought it home for me. We have a SoCal conference coming up Nov. 16th – 18th for quarter schools. You better believe I’m going to be sharing this! Thanks brother.
Glad to hear it. I wish someone had shared something like this with me when I was in college! It’s not just a weekend that’s at stake!
This post is too legit to quit. Love it. I’m re-blog-tweet-posting-word-of-mouthing
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