“How is it,” they asked Jesus, “that our teachers of the Law say that Elijah has to come first?”
afraid of asking
my life and death question
I fall back
to inquire of others
why do they
when did that start
how do they
who do they think they are
tradition is pervasive and tenacious
all is ordered through time
meaning is set
confirming signposts found
Elijah is everywhere
Thoughts move quickly in disciple’s brains. This may be why their teacher speaks of “monkey brain”.
The last we knew the Three agreed to not talk outside of their foursome and were wondering about resurrection. Almost immediately they jump back to a question about Elijah.
All manner of stories could arise out of this question. Among them is a return to Peter’s resistance to suffering and death. If Elijah hasn’t come, then maybe Jesus doesn’t have to continue his crazy talk.
We are always invited to remember prior connections. Back in verse 6:15 Herod and others speculated that Jesus might be Elijah. It is difficult to disconnect from cultural memes. Is this simply a circumlocution for a “Triumphant Messiah” that Jesus doesn’t agree to?
Another way of seeing how deeply rooted some religious ideas are is to look through the eyes of Myers109, “Despite having just been instructed by the voice from heaven to listen to Jesus, the three disciples are still preoccupied by the authority of the scribal class: Why do the scribes say…?”
Of course the Three are also trying to get absolute answers when a cognitive dissonance has set in. LaVerdiere-246 puts it this way. “The problem was quite simple. The disciples [along with religious leaders and the public] expected Elijah to come and prepare the Lord’s manifestation in glory, not his suffering and death.”
This same expectation of “manifestation in glory” continues to this day in Prosperity Gospel doctrine. In fact it presages a glory to come with the glory of wealth here on earth.