|December sunrise in Missouri|
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;but I tell you that Elijah has already come,and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”Then the disciples understoodthat he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:11-13This exchange between Peter, James, and John and Jesus took place as they were coming down from the top of hill and the experience of what we have comes to know as the transfiguration. Because of the clear implications of the transfiguration for the Messiahship of Jesus, the apostles ask if Elijah has come since the belief was he would return as a precursor to the Messiah and the restoration of the Davidic reign. This is Jesus' reply.
John the Baptist is the precursor, the Elijah, for the reign of Jesus as the messiah. Just as Matthew earlier recounts Jesus saying earlier in response to the apostles' recognition of him as the Messiah:
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he* must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Matthew 16:21so again Jesus reasserts that not only he as Messiah must follow a path of suffering, rejection and death but so too has John, his precursor. This is just another way of making clear the path to eternal life announced by Jesus. He and any true follower must take up his cross and then follow him on the same journey to death and resurrection.
I am called not just to be a follower of Jesus the Messiah but to be precursor, to announce the good news of his coming and the overwhelming love of the Divine One for each and all of us. This is not an easy task because the world and its values are programmed to reject this message. This rejection is not based on the idea of love of each for all but rather on the implications of actually living that way. There is nothing wrong with saying that that we should love one another. The problems comes with the acting on this notion in the day to day realities of our lives.