Throughout the gospels, we often read about Jesus going up a mountain to pray. For instance, we read in Luke 6:12 that ‘one of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.’ Matthew 14:23 tell us, ‘After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.’
Why does He do this? Are we supposed to infer that, like when making a phone call with a bad signal, we are supposed to go to a high place in order to be heard more clearly? Is it that God cannot hear our prayers unless we are on top of a mountain? Of course not. God sees all and hears all, no matter where in the world we are.
But do we see and hear God? Modern society is filled with so many distractions, and moves at such a fast pace, that it can be all too easy to be caught up and lose sight of God in our lives and what He wants from us. The importance of taking time to be alone with God cannot be understated. We might not necessarily have to climb a mountain, but in general the more isolated from the hustle and bustle of life we are, the clearer the Lord’s voice will be.
This is reflected throughout scripture. The Lord frequently speaks and demonstrates his power on mountaintops. Moses receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, Elijah demonstrates God’s power to the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, and later, again on Mount Sinai, Elijah hears the Lord speak in a ‘soft whisper of a voice’ (1 Kings 19:12).
Throughout Lent, mountains take on an even greater significance. We hear how Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain, commonly believed to be Mount Tabor, and was transfigured into his full glory. He converses with Moses and Elijah and the voice of the Father once again proclaims Jesus as His son. The disciples are awestruck and fearful. Jesus tells them not to speak about what they have witnessed.
Later, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem before his triumphant entry on Palm Sunday. Then, several days later, he returns to the foot of the mountain where he experiences his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his betrayal and arrest. Finally, just outside Jerusalem’s walls, the Lord is crucified and dies on the rock of Calvary, fulfilling his mission and reconciling the world back to the Father.
The events on these three mountains give us a great insight into the person of Jesus and the nature of God. Throughout Lent and the Easter season, let us reflect on what these signs mean for us and our relationship with the Lord. Let us take the time to accompany Jesus up each of these mountains to pray, to experience the true majesty of God, and to come to know Him and His love for us more completely.