“Elijah does indeed come first,” answered Jesus, “and re-establish everything; and does not scripture speak, with regard to the Son of Man, of his undergoing much suffering and being utterly despised?
before a restart
comes a restore
now we can deconstruct
give way to Euclid
an apple’s gravity
bends trees and seasons
in their time
even in their simplest
blood is sweated
tears are wept
suffering for beauty
a cat in a box
seen in a mind’s eye
does and doesn’t shed
To begin from the continuation of an affirmation of suffering and rejections—when looking at the way Elijah is presented in the scriptures Jesus would have known, there is no warrant for Elijah to be an Isaiahan Suffering Servant.
Neither the remembrance of the Elijah cycle (1 Kings 17:1 – 2 Kings 2:11) nor the assertion in Malachi 4:5–6 about his return suggest there is going to be any suffering by Elijah. LaVerdiere-245 says it concisely, “Elijah’s return was supposed to prepare the way for the Lord’s glorious coming, not for his death.”
The early tradition that equates Baptizer John with Elijah is more to the point here than previous writings about Elijah. In this way John comes first to restore (repent-and-trust good news) and sets the tone of Jesus’ first message.
This repent-and-trust model is one that Jesus returns with from his retreat to the wilderness. This process is used to signal a turning or restoration or metamorphosis.
Still this does not lie easy with Jesus as he used compassion as a Way to repentance and adds a picture of suffering as a result of compassion angering an indifferent world. Though it sounds as if the suffering brings restoration, it is a consequence of healing the gaps of life.
This is not an easy text in Mark as there are several ways to punctuate it. This is not dissimilar to the stanzas throughout this book where punctuation decisions need to be made by the reader. Marks’ difficult use of language and ideational constructs is more intentional than rustic. There is method in his madness that repetition assists.
For now we have an affirmation of restoration and an awareness that such does not come without a cost. Prepare to ante up.