9 Feb. Mark 6:14-16

9 Feb. Was John the Baptist 'the promised Elijah'?

"King Herod [Antipas] heard about Jesus, because he was now well known. Some people said, 'He is John the Baptist, who has risen from the dead. That is why he can work these miracles.' Others said, 'He is Elijah.' Other people said, 'Jesus is a prophet, like the prophets who lived long ago'."

When Herod heard this, he said, 'I killed John by cutting off his head. Now he has risen from the dead!'"

          (Mark 6:14-16)



Just a short passage today (though you can carry on to verse 29 in your own Bible if you want to read all the grisly details of how John the Baptist met his death!)

John was 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 her brother-in-law).

Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, and ruler of Galilee and Peraea, was deeply disturbed when he heard about Jesus’s popularity. Some people thought that Jesus was John the Baptist, raised from the dead, as Herod Antipas had beheaded John some months earlier at Machaerus. Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the prophets (see also Mark 8:27-28).

To resolve the confusion, after the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas in 28AD, Jesus had 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 performed the role of Elijah by preparing the way for Jesus himself – the Messiah or Christ (the ‘Anointed One’).

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 (by Thomas Bantle) shows the site of Herod's fortress at Machaerus, where John was beheaded.

You can read more about 'the promised Elijah' @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/was-john-the-promised-el…/

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