9 Dec. Matthew 11:2-15

9 Dec. Was John the promised Elijah announcing the coming of the Messiah?

"John the Baptist was in prison, but he heard about what [Jesus] Christ was doing. So John sent some of his followers to Jesus. They asked him, 'Are you the One who is to come [the 'Messiah', the 'Christ'], or should we wait for someone else?'"

"Jesus answered them, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind can see, the crippled can walk and people with skin diseases are healed. The deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life and the Good News is preached to the poor. Those who do not stumble in their faith because of me are blessed.'"

"As John's followers were leaving, Jesus began talking to the people about John. Jesus said, 'What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed blown by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes live in kings' palaces.'"

"'So why did you go out [to see John]? To see a prophet? Yes, and I tell you, John is more than a prophet. This was written about him:

"I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare the way for you."'" [Malachi 3:1]

"'I tell you the truth, John the Baptist is greater than any other person ever born, but even the least important person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John... All the prophets and the law of Moses said about what would happen until the time John came.'"

"'And if you will believe what they said, you will believe that John is Elijah, whom they said would come. You people who can hear me, listen!'"

          (Matthew 11:2-15)


 

While imprisoned by King Herod Antipas, John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the One who is to come?” (Matthew 11:3). He wanted to be sure that Jesus really was the 'Christ' or 'Messiah' who was promised by the Old Testament prophets.

Jesus asked the disciples to report what they saw 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” (Matthew 11:5).

As John's followers were leaving, 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) (see Matthew 11:10 & Malachi 3:1).

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 (see Malachi 4:5).

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

The appearance of Elijah (or a 'second Elijah') before the coming of the 'Messiah' or 'Christ' was a vital belief among 1st century Jews, and is, indeed, just as important to Jews in the 21st century.

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.

The photo shows the Judaean desert at Masada.

You can read more about John the Baptist and the Passover Supper by following the links @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/the-bible-journey/2-john-the-baptists-journeys-b/was-john-the-promised-elijah/


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