Mark 9:13

But I tell you that Elijah has come, and people have treated him just as they pleased, as scripture says of him.”


so many anonymous Elijahs
have returned with rainy day oil
only to have first been ignored
then put under house arrest

bored out of their mind
many an Elijah faded away
a mere ghost of themself
slumped in an empty chair

too expected to be seen
a sadly overlooked Elijah
prepares needed suffering
to clear established cataracts


Mark is not as explicit about relating Elijah with Baptizer John as is Matthew 17:13, “Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.”

Since there is no tradition about Elijah being mistreated when he returns to herald a “Great Day of Judgment” that will get everyone trod out of existence except for parents and children who are in accord with one another (Malachi 4), this verse seems to refer to the difficulties Elijah had with Ahab and Jezebel.

Elijah’s confrontation with power that was distracting and working against the common good of its day led to his being chased to exhaustion. Only at the last moment, while despondent and asking to die, was he fortified with angel cake and drink. This part of Elijah’s story fits with Jesus’ understanding of his suffering and death.

A difference is, Elijah heard a strange, still, small voice sending him into the wilderness to anoint other kings with oil (similar to John’s anointing with water on the other side of the Jordan) and Jesus’ death throes which will have silence instead of a “Who-sized” voice—“Why have you forsaken me? Where is my angel chef?”

In the scene at the cross (15:33–37) Elijah is back one more time through the mistaken hearing of the crowd. In some fashion, Jesus becomes Elijah, a witness against those whose power has gone to their head and will get a curse as Jesus’ death sets up a rationale for a Great Judgment to come.

Galston108 notes a progression: “The great thing about [Jesus’] death is his resurrection, and the great thing about his resurrection is that he is returning to judge the world, and the great things about his return is that it never happens, leaving the Church in charge.” How has the Church done with its “rituals of salvation”? Has it substituted “power” for “character development” and “spiritual maturity”?

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