Prepare to listen. Prepare to listen to God’s Word and pray: The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes. (Psalm 119:64)
Read Mark 9:9-13
9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. 11Then they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ 12He said to them, ‘Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? 13But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.’
The experience was one for the books; perhaps the most exciting thing that had ever happened to Peter, James and John. They’d just attended “a kind of salvation-history summit” (Myers 2015, p. 250) with Jesus, Moses, Elijah and heard the voice from heaven. I bet they couldn’t wait to get back home and tell family and friends what they’d seen and heard. And then Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone! Wait, he said, ‘until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.’ They hadn’t understood the experience; had questions about the meaning of ‘risen from the dead,’ but instead of asking for an explanation, they got distracted with a question about Elijah. No wonder Jesus ordered them not to tell.
Their distraction about Elijah is understandable. They were familiar with the scribal teaching, based on Malachi 4:5-6, that Elijah would come ahead of Messiah to restore the nation, making it ready for Messiah. How could Jesus be Messiah, they wondered, if Elijah hadn’t come yet? Jesus’ response is somewhat cryptic—Elijah is coming; Elijah has already come. Behind this contradictory response is a hint to the disciples that their concept of Messiah and his mission was wrong. Jesus would not do what they thought a messiah would do—set Israel free from the occupiers of their land and restore them to their former glory. I wonder why Jesus didn’t make his point in plain terms? Instead, he orders the slow-to-understand disciples to tell no one about the ‘salvation-history summit.’
When faced with a picture or teaching of Jesus that doesn’t agree with what you always thought, what is your usual distraction to avoid changing your well-known ideas? How do you think Jesus wants you to respond to him today?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Jesus, I don’t fully understand your sayings. Help me to follow you today with my questions and perplexities, remaining open to new truths about you, even when they conflict with my present views. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world obeying Jesus’ sometimes surprising orders.