As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant. They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.” Mark 9:9-13

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

In today’s passage Jesus, Peter, James and John come down from the mountain and as they do Jesus gives them orders not to talk about what they saw on the mountain (more about this on Friday) until he is risen from the dead. It was said yesterday that the disciples desperately needed to let go of their expectations for Jesus. This is precisely what our passage shows us next. Notice that Peter, James and John began discussing what rising from the dead meant. The nature of their discussion is revealed in the question they ask Jesus: “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” First before what? Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Messiah); and he will reign for ever and ever.” They still believe that Jesus has come to fulfill this verse and somehow Elijah will be a part of it. They want the kingdom of the Messiah to replace the kingdom of the world. This is what they expect of Jesus and the sooner it happens the better. 

So, their discussion about Jesus rising from the dead isn’t so much a discussion about what it entails but rather about how such a thing fits into their understanding of the Messiah’s kingdom? Jesus then confirms that Elijah does come first and restore all things (read Malachi 4:4-5 and Revelation 11:3-15). But then Jesus asks them the all-important question, “how is it written of the son of man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt?” The answer is simply that Jesus comes twice. The first time as the suffering Savior and the second time as the reigning King. And so Elijah coming to restore all things happens with the second coming of Christ. But then Jesus reverses field and says, “But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did whatever they wished, just as it was written.” Jesus is referring to John the Baptist, of whom it was said he would come in the spirit and power of Elijah. 

Peter, James and John have had a very unique experience on the mountain with Jesus, Elijah and Moses. It will serve them well eventually, but for now they are still caught up in their confused Messianic expectations. Even with multiple explanations by Jesus about his sufferings, they will not comprehend fully until after the resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit. We are on the other side of the resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit and are recipients of resurrection and Holy Spirit life. But, like the disciples we must make sure our expectations of Jesus are fully aligned with who he really is and all that he really is about.

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, I ask you to continue to shape my heart, mind and life. I have so much to learn about resurrection and Holy Spirit life. Thank you for your suffering that makes it all possible. I release all my expectations and embrace the daily journey of becoming fully aligned with all that you are and all that you are about. What a blessing it is that increasingly you are ruling and reigning in my heart and life. Amen!