A Mountaintop Experience
Many of you heard or watched Michael Ramsden speak to a gathering of about 2000 at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem on Easter morning, March 2016. They said over 20 million tuned in!
I was there. What a special memory. Being in Israel during Easter week and visiting the many biblical sights was such a thrill. The Bible really does come alive when you are here, or, as some say, it becomes 3D!
To make it even more special, Michael Ramsden and Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing added much with their commentaries at the various sites. I left Israel with fond memories but I knew I would be back one week later to be with Ravi Zacharias for his two speaking engagements at Bethlehem Bible College and Nazareth Evangelical College. I felt so privileged and blessed that I was going to be there twice in one year.
Ravi spoke to a packed venue of young people in Bethlehem, and they even had to open up an overflow section. The next morning we began a two-hour drive to Nazareth with our host, Pastor Nabil. We had a bit of a late start and we hadn’t had lunch but our host said Nazareth had the best shawarma sandwiches in the world.
About an hour in the drive, Ravi asked the driver if the mountain he was looking at in the distance was Mount Tabor. He said Yes, it’s the Mount of Transfiguration. Ravi immediately asked us if we wanted to visit it.
Shawarma or the Mount of Transfiguration? It was an easy decision because earlier that week Ravi told us his favorite site was Mount Tabor. I was very excited, as this is one of my favorite passages in the Gospels.
You see, about five and a half years ago I became a new follower of Jesus Christ and one of the things that has changed in my new life is my vocabulary. My wife will tell you she immediately noticed I stopped using profanity. But as I began reading The Bible, Christian books, and literature, I started to learn new words. I would always look up a word that I wasn’t familiar with. One of those words was “transfiguration.” I must admit I didn’t use this word before I became a believer. What does the word “transfiguration” mean? It comes from the Latin roots trans (“across”) and figura (“form, shape”). It thus signifies a change of form or appearance (metamorphosis).
This is what happened to Jesus in the event known as the Transfiguration; his appearance changed and became glorious!
So we drove up the winding mountain road and I kept thinking of the three disciples, Peter, John, and James, and how they must have wondered why they were asked to go to top of this mountain with Jesus. Once we reached the mountain I began to have goose bumps. It was such a beautiful and peaceful view, I could have stayed there all day and just meditated.
Ravi Zacharias and Sanj Kalra.
Ravi found a spot for us to sit and he began reading the passage of The Transfiguration from Matthew 17. Then he connected 2 Peter 1:16-21 where Peter contrasts the temporariness of this experience with Jesus with the eternal and unfading brilliance of God’s Word, saying, “We now have the more sure word of prophecy.” Ravi expounded more on this passage and he gave us a deeper understanding for why this event took place.
I believe Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the disciples’ faith in anticipation of his Passion. Perhaps the ascent onto the “high mountain” prepares for the ascent to Calvary. I definitely left the Mount of Transfiguration with my faith strengthened. I guess you could say it was “A Mountaintop” experience!
Sanj Kalra is a speaker for RZIM. He was born in New Delhi, India, and comes from a Hindu background. His family immigrated to Ottawa, Canada, where he grew up through high school. Despite enjoying unprecedented personal success, Sanj eventually went spinning out of control until, in a state of deep crisis, he had a dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ in June of 2010. Until that point, pleasure and indulgence were all he lived for. The transformation that Jesus brought to him is one of the most remarkable testimonies of our time. Read more about Sanj here.