20190514 

Sudden Twists in the Story

Mark 9:11-13

We’re watching a new Netflix series and we’ve got the plot all figured out. In the last episode we think everything will be resolved and everyone will live happily ever after, but then— the good guy who launched the main character’s career gets killed. Worse, the enemies of the main character attack, mortally wound him, and with sirens screaming and red lights flashing, he arrives in the intensive care unit. 

In the last scene we catch a glimpse of him on life support, ashen with the monitor hardly registering, but there’s a glimmer of hope. He’s not dead yet. Season One ends and we frantically search to see if there will be a Season Two. We’ve got a ton of unanswered questions, tensions, and this horrible feeling that the bad guys might win. This hunger for vindications, for the hero to rise up, and for love and justice to prevail in the end insures that we will tune in again.

God doesn’t create Netflix series to make money for sponsors. He writes his redemptive story in real time and on the pages of authentic history. The Jewish Scriptures prophesied that Elijah would come again after the Jewish people had faced exile nearing extinction. According to Malachi 4:1, the arrogant and all those who commit wickedness would be destroyed and the coming of the LORD, shining like the sun, would be preceded by the coming of Elijah who would unite fathers with their children and children with their fathers. 

The Jewish rabbis got this prediction and the restoration of all things. What they struggled with is why an Elijah-like prophet like John the Baptist suddenly was murdered and then Jesus, who he introduced, died on a cross. To them this meant he was an imposter, not the true Messiah.

Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ closest disciples had this same difficulty as Jesus begins to travel with them up to Jerusalem to face the cross. At the Transfiguration they saw the King in his kingly glory. They expected him to come down off the mountain and set up God’s Kingdom. Instead, he kept up the strange talk about dying and rising again.

“Peter, James, and John kept on asking Jesus, ‘Why do the Jewish legal experts keep saying that before the Messiah Elijah must come first?’ Jesus responded, ‘That’s right, Elijah does come first to restore all things, and that’s why it stands written about the Son of Man that he must suffer many things and be treated with contempt. But I say to you that Elijah has come, and they did to him what they desired to do just as it stands written about him.’” Mark 9:11-13

The Jewish leaders and Jesus most trusted disciples at this point in Mark agreed that the Jewish scriptures predicted that Elijah would come first and then the Messiah. What they rejected was that this Elijah would be cut off, foreshadowing the death of the Messiah, and all this had to come before God restored all things. 

In the Elijah account in 1 Kings 19:1-3, Jezebel wanted to murder Elijah, but the Lord protects him. What’s confusing in our narrative is that John the Baptist, the Elijah-like prophet, does get killed by a “Jezebel,” and it looks like the bad guys are winning. For the rest of Mark, we are going to have to wrestle with the question: Why did God allow John the Baptist to be cut off by Herodias and why did his Son have to hang on the cross? 

LORD, move us to keep walking with Jesus even when we don’t understand why he is leading us where he is leading us. Help us to keep listening as Jesus tells us why it was absolutely necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, be scorned by his enemies, and give his life.

For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!