Matthew guides us up into a very high and holy mountain (chap. 14:2). There we find the Son of God praying, and Scripture records that He was there alone. A consideration of this mountain will reveal a number of lessons which were meant for our benefit. One of these lessons is relevant to the present ministry of the Lord Jesus. On that mountain He was alone in the presence of the Father, yet He was at the same time fully aware of what was happening to His disciples and their ship as they were tossed in the midst of the sea, buffetted by a contrary wind. How it strengthens and encourages the believer to know that Christ has gone into the presence of God! As a man He was received up into glory where He is the token and pledge of the wonderful hope that we also shall soon be there.
Our hearts are stirred as we realize that He is present there on our behalf. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:201. Notice those last two words, hug them to your bosom, bask in their warmth, He is there for us. Blessed be His wonderful name! Again, let us refer to our lesson and notice with assurance that He watches over His own carefully and comes to them in the hour of their greatest anxiety and need. He appeared to His disciples; He spoke to them; He demonstrated His power and authority, and then entered their ship to share their experiences and sail with them. Thank God, He is just the same today!
This scene also illustrates some dispensational teaching. We can think of our Lord appearing to His chosen people Israel in the hour of their great tribulation, being then recognized and acknowledged by them. Contrary to what is being suggested by some, we firmly believe that the Word of God teaches that there will be a time of sore tribulation for Israel and that she will be tossed on the sea of the nations. We believe that the Bible teaches a literal future for the Jew.
What a glorious deliverance will be experienced by Israel when their long rejected Messiah returns! That event is shadowed in verse 34, “And when they were gone over… .” How could it be otherwise? Will an omniscient God be defeated in the nation upon which He has set His affection and for whom He has charted a destiny? Never can such a thought be anticipated. God has a future for Israel which will redound to His own praises.
The lesson, however, that we would fix in our own hearts is if the blessed, holy, spotless Son of God needed to be alone with God in prayer, we, His needy, failing followers likewise need seasons alone with God. How can we discern the mind of the Lord, learn His perfect will, appreciate the fellowship into which we have been brought, unless we find ourselves in His presence alone? How shall we see other Christians in a heavenly light if we fail to abide in the light of Heaven? How shall we have a sympathetic understanding of the problems and weaknesses of others if we do not find opportunity to be alone with our sympathizing High Priest? In order to effectually succour one another we must experience this ourselves in the presence of the Lord. How easy it is to sing,
“Oh the pure delight of a single hour
Which before Thy throne we spend,”
and yet seldom prepare a single hour in which to be alone with our Master and Friend! God is jealous and wants us for Himself.
The resulting joy of our having been with the Lord will be readily detected by others. We may not be conscious of any special virtue in ourselves, but others will be aware “that we have been with Jesus,” and will thereby be blessed. Our Lord delighted to take His disciples away from the multitudes in order to teach them. He rejoiced in the intimacy of the home in Bethany, and He has not changed. He is still the same, and desires that we too may scale this very high mountain, this very holy mountain, and find the secret of His presence, and there learn the secret of His power.
This mountain is indeed very high, it takes effort and time to climb it. Some may indicate by their attitude that the effort is too great, others that there is just not time enough; let us not be guilty of either. Let us take the fullest advantage of the blessing afforded in the precincts of the Lord, breathing out the soul in prayer and listening to His voice, and then let us come down to minister to others even as did Christ our divine example.