World English Bible translation
9:11They asked him, saying, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
9:12He said to them, "Elijah indeed comes first, and restores all things. How is it written about the Son of Man, that he should suffer many things and be despised? 9:13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they have also done to him whatever they wanted to, even as it is written about him."
Jesus had taken Peter, James and John up into the mountains. There Jesus was transfigured in glory. Moses and Elijah were there and spoke with Him. A voice came down from heaven and told the disciples that Jesus was the Son of God and that they should listen to Him. When Jesus was ready to leave the mountain, He told the disciples to keep everything they had seen a secret until after He had been raised from the dead. Even after all they had seen they were confused and did not understand what He was saying to them.
Today's Scripture is based on their confusion of what they had just witnessed. It was widely taught by the scribes and the Pharisees that before the Messiah would come, Elijah would return and restore the nation to God. This teaching was based on the Old Testament prophets. But, if Jesus was the Messiah, as what they had just witnessed seemed to indicate, why had Elijah whom they had just seen not remained and completed what was prophesied? They wondered whether the scribes might be wrong in this teaching.
But Jesus told them that the scribes had not been wrong. Elijah does come first. But when Elijah returned, he was persecuted just as the first Elijah was persecuted under Ahab and Jezabel, the corrupt rulers of Israel in his day. By this Jesus was referring to John the Baptist. Just as Elijah had been persecuted, the next Elijah, John, had been imprisoned and beheaded by Herod and Herodius. John had come and brought the power of God back into the nation. He had been the forerunner to the Messiah.
Perhaps the disciples understood the reference that Jesus was using and perhaps they did not. It is difficult to understand how they could have not understood who Jesus was and what He was doing. But we must always remember that the Spirit of God had not yet been fully given to them. They lived closely with Jesus. They witnessed the miracles and heard the teaching. They had every opportunity that man could be given to understand. And yet, there are many indications that they did not understand even up to the very end. Jesus kept telling them that He would have to suffer and die, but in the end they were still surprised.
But we all would be equally in the dark if God did not reveal Himself to us. We could witness miracles and hear the truth, but if God were not in us, we too would not understand. Only the Spirit of God working within us can reveal the things of God to us. Soon the Spirit of God would be given to these Twelve and they would begin to understand fully. Until that time, they would always be confused and bewildered by the Acts of God.
Do you hear the Spirit revealing God to you today? Are you listening to Him?
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