King Of The Hill

Luke 9:35-36, “Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.”

King of the hill. (No. Not the show. The game.) You remember the game, don’t you? All you needed to be able to play was a couple of friends and any size hill. It didn’t have to be a mountain. Any elevated area would suffice. My personal favorite was always the piles of dirt that you found at a construction site. Hard to climb. High enough to demand real respect. Soft enough to cushion your fall. And if you were lucky enough to find one with a mud pit at the bottom,…. Well, that was heaven on earth. The object was simple. Be the first to ascend to the heights of the hill. And then by sheer force you defended your kingdom against all challengers. Wrestling and struggling to toss your friends back down the incline, it was an all-out-war to maintain your position of supremacy. The goal? Defend the hill and be the last man standing.

In a lot of ways I still find myself playing that same childhood game even though I am now much older (I will be 44 in just a few more weeks). The hill isn’t made up of dirt and mud anymore. No, now the battle takes place on the summits of my heart. And although the field of play has changed the contest remains the same. Struggling. Wrestling. Contending against so many things that challenge to take the place of supremacy in my heart and life. It’s an all-out-war on more days than I care to admit. Feelings. Fears. Desires. Doubts. Insecurities. Uncertainties. Illicit longings. Temptation. Sin. Pride. Possessions. Power. Prominence. Physical appetites. The list of things that would seek to seize control of my heart seem endless at times. No sooner is one thrown down than 2 others attack with all their fury. Far too numerous are the times that I have found myself thrown down, looking up from the muddy pits of personal failure to see that once again the wrong thing is sitting as “king of the hill” in my heart and life.

On days like that I find solace in this closing scene from the Transfiguration. In my mind’s eye I see the 3 disciples standing there in awe and wonder. The events of that day had surpassed anything they could have ever imagined. Christ glorified before them. The appearance of Moses and Elijah. The radiance. The brilliance. The cloud that overshadowed them. The pendulum of emotion had swung from one extreme to another in a matter of moments. Sheer, almost inexpressible joy had given way to fear. What a battle must have been taking place within their hearts! But then came the voice. Can you imagine? God’s audible voice. The text doesn’t tell us but I have often wondered. Was it a whisper or something more along the lines of thunder? We don’t know. But we do know that God spoke and they heard both a clear explanation and a straightforward instruction. “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”

And then comes the best part. When the voice was finished, “…Jesus was found alone.” Just like that. What an incredible source of personal solace I find in those four small words. For in that one image I am reminded that 2,000 years ago Jesus climbed to the top of the hill and there on a cross He forever established His place as King of the hill. Sin was thrown down! Fear was thrown down! Pain and suffering were thrown down! Death was thrown down! Sickness, disease, and all bondage. All thrown down! All pretenders and every contender had been thrown down. Jesus was the last man standing. King of the Hill!

Remember that the next time you find yourself lying at the bottom of the hill. You may have been defeated. You may have lost the battle. Again. For the hundredth time. But take heart and look up. Standing alone at the top of the hill is the One who came to give you forgiveness, to give you victory, to give you hope, and to give you life. You and I will never take the hill in our own strength. We are too weak. We are too prone to failure and sin. But we have One who went forth on our behalf. Because of His love and His grace we can stand up, wipe the mud out of our eyes, and go forward. What we could not do on our own Jesus has done for us. The King of the hill, the King of Kings, is now become the king of our hearts. We share in His victory. We share in His triumph. And one day soon we will share eternity with Him.