Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem.
I’m absolutely hopeless with names. As a teacher, that’s quite bad. Weeks can go by, and I still don’t know the names of everyone I teach. It’s not just a problem at work, though. When I meet someone for the first time and they introduce themselves, their name seems to go quite literally in one ear and out the other. I guess the real problem is that I’m not very good at listening! I do find myself confusing people quite a lot, especially in my larger classes at school, and thinking that one child is actually another.
In our current Mark Marathon passage, we see quite a lot of confusion about just who Jesus is. We meet Herod, who has started to hear about Jesus. He wants to know who Jesus is, and how he is able to achieve the magnificent miracles that seem to be a feature of his daily existence. Some people believe that he is John the Baptist, come from the dead, whilst others think that Jesus is Elijah, or, at the very least, a prophet like Elijah. The Jews believed that Elijah, who had not died but was taken to heaven, would reappear to mark the beginning of the end times, when God would began to wrap up his plan. They were not that far off in some ways.
Jesus, of course was neither John the Baptist nor Elijah. We know for a fact that he cannot be Elijah, because at the Transfiguration he is seen chatting to both Moses and Elijah, as Luke describes in today’s verse. Both Elijah and Moses are important figures – Elijah represents the Prophets, and Moses the Law, both of which were crucial to the Jews. Jesus, however, is greater than both of these two men. They are seen here reflecting God’s glory, whilst Jesus actually displays the glory of God himself. Jesus, in Matthew 5:17, actually tells us that he is actually the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets; in other words, everything that Elijah and Moses represent.
Elijah and Moses were phenomenally important people in God’s plan for us, but neither comes close to the importance that Jesus has. Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah, is the culmination of everything that Moses and Elijah stood for and acted upon.
Throughout Mark’s gospel, people are challenged to reflect on the identity of Jesus. Throughout our Mark Marathon series, we too have been, and over the coming weeks, will be, challenged to think the same. Just who was this man Jesus?