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Matthew 17:10-13: Elijah Must Come First

Posted by adventbiblestudy on March 25, 2012


Elijah  must come firstMatthew 17:10-13 GNB Then the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah has to come first?” (11) “Elijah is indeed coming first,” answered Jesus, “and he will get everything ready. (12) But I tell you that Elijah has already come and people did not recognize him, but treated him just as they pleased. In the same way they will also mistreat the Son of Man.” (13) Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
With the voice of God, and the images of Moses and Elijah still fresh in their minds, Peter James, and John discussed a number of stories and verses they recalled about each. As they neared the bottom of the mountain, Peter asked, “Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah has to come first?” Peter of course was referring to the prophecy given to Malachi, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 KJV). Peter asked the question because the disciples were waiting for a triumphant display of God’s power displayed through Jesus.

Jesus turned to look at them before answering. The look on their faces gave away their excitement. After everything Jesus had taught them, they still clung onto the traditions and doctrine taught by the priests and Pharisees, who would settle for nothing less than a warrior god coming down from heaven, raining fire upon, and consuming their enemies in an instant. This was the sign the Pharisees had tempted Jesus with. As Jesus could see, this was the image His disciples had to put aside before they could accept God’s plan of salvation.

Jesus did not condemn them for their mistake, but rather answered them in the only way He knew how. By sharing the truth, and pointing them to the scriptures. He knew there were actually two answers to their question. The first answer dwelt with the misconception Peter had referred to. Jesus answered, “Elijah is indeed coming first, and he will get everything ready.” It was not the right time to explain the concept of His second coming, because they did not understand the first, the present time in which they were living. Jesus wanted them to see and understand the prophecies they had witnessed, and were seeing everyday. Jesus added a second answer, “But I tell you that Elijah has already come and people did not recognize him, but treated him just as they pleased. In the same way they will also mistreat the Son of Man.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
Jesus was glad they were finally beginning to understand how to be guided by the Holy Spirit on their own. When they returned to the waiting disciples, Jesus explained. “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Matthew 3:1-3, Isaiah 40:3-5).

Jesus continued to slowly teach His disciples, one step at a time, so each point would be completely understood. Jesus knew, when the time was right, the Holy Spirit would bring every lesson back to their memory, and the truth will be known.

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