Was John the new Elijah?

We're going to look in more detail at the page entitled Was John the promised Elijah? in The Bible Journey @  www.thebiblejourney.org.


Was John the Baptist the promised Elijah?


1. Read Luke 7:18-23.

2. Now read the opening paragraph of 'Was John the promised Elijah?' (below).

Was John the promised Elijah?

John sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the One who is to come?” (Luke 7:19). He wants to be sure that Jesus really is the Christ or Messiah who was promised by the Old Testament prophets. Jesus asks the messengers to report what they see to John: “The blind can see, the crippled can walk … the dead are raised to life and the Good News is preached to the poor” (Luke 7:22).

Was John certain about who Jesus really was?

Do you think Jesus matched up to John's expectations of God's special servant prophesied by Isaiah?

Why do you think Jesus sent John's disciples back with the words, “Go and tell John what you saw and heard here. The blind can see, the crippled can walk … the dead are raised to life and the Good News is preached to the poor” (Luke 7:22)? (See Isaiah 49:8-11, 52:7 & 57:18-19 for clues if you're not sure!)

Do you think John was convinced? 

3. Read the next paragraph.

John is beheaded on Herod’s birthday in 28AD at the request of his step-daughter, urged on by her mother, Herodias (who had been criticised by John for marrying Herod). John's disciples lay his body in a tomb.

Why had John criticised Herodias for marrying Herod Antipas? (See Mark 6:17-19 if you don't already know.)

4. After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus wanted people to know what role John had played in Jesus's own mission.

Read the first paragraph of the feature on Was John the new Elijah? (below)

Was John the new Elijah?

After the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas in 28AD, Jesus declared that John was the messenger prophesied by Malachi, who was sent to “Prepare in the desert the way for the LORD” (Isaiah 40:3).

5. Read Isaiah 40:3-5 then read Luke 3:2-6.

Was John consciously fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah?

Was he expecting Jesus to arrive in a chariot like other eastern kings? (It was the custom to smooth out the rough places ahead of the king's chariot.) 

Do you think John's father Zechariah shared his prophesy (in Luke 1:16-17) with John?

6. Read Malachi 3:1 & then read Matthew 11:9-10.

Did John deliberately set out to fulfil Malachi's prophesy?

Who was it that the messenger was preparing the way for in Malachi 3:1? 

Who was John preparing the way for?

7. Read the next paragraph of the feature (below).

Jesus told the crowds to believe that “John is Elijah, whom they said would come” (Matthew 11:14) – the prophet heralding the arrival of the Messiah, the Christ, and the ‘Day of the LORD’ when everyone who asked God for forgiveness would be saved. It was widely believed among the Jews of New Testament times that the prophet Elijah would come back to earth prior to the coming of the Messiah or Christ.

 8. Now read Malachi 4:5.

The Jews of Jesus's day expected Elijah to re-appear before the coming of the Messiah.

Why was Elijah's expected re-appearance not considered to be a resurrection from the dead? (See 2 Kings 2:1 & 11 if you're not sure.)

9. Read Matthew 11:13-15.

Who did Jesus believe had fulfilled the prophesy in Malachi 4:5?

Why did John live in the desert, and dress & eat as he did? (You might like to look up Matthew 3:4 then compare it with 1Kings 17:2-6 & 19:4-6.)

Why did John baptise at Bethany beyond the Jordan near Jericho? (See John 1:28 then look up 2 Kings 2:4 & 8-9 if you're not sure!)

10. Read the 3rd paragraph of the feature (below)

However, some of those who heard Jesus believed that he was ‘the promised Elijah’ who would come before the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-14). Jesus made it quite clear that John the Baptist had performed the role of Elijah by preparing the way for Jesus himself – the Messiah or Christ (the ‘Anointed One’).

11. Now read Matthew 16:13-14.

Did all his Jewish audience agree with Jesus that John was the new Elijah?

Why not? Who might well have agreed?

12. Read the last paragraph of the feature (below).

Today, most Jews (who are still awaiting the coming of the Messiah) leave a place at the table for Elijah when they celebrate Passover. During the Passover supper, the Cup of Elijah stands in the centre of the table. This cup is only to be drunk when the prophet Elijah appears as the forerunner of the Messiah.

Many Jews today are still waiting for Elijah to appear before the Messiah comes. This is why they leave a vacant seat for Elijah at their Passover meal, and don't drink from the 'Cup of Elijah' which stands on the table.

Do you think they will be disappointed?

Do you think John was the new Elijah?

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