Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Jesus & Elijah: Who Saves Whom?
On the cross Jesus cried out to his Father, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46).
Some of the bystanders misunderstand "Eli, Eli" (understandably - since it was spoken from the lips of an agonized, dying man) and think that Jesus is calling on the great prophet Elijah to come and save him from the cross.
This fit in with some of the Hallmark-style religious speculation of the time, which nurtured the superstition that Elijah (the prophet who did not die, but was taken alive into heaven in a whirlwind & flaming chariot - see 2 Kings 2) come could come back and rescue God's people in their distress.
But the truth is Elijah has already appeared (twice - in a sense) in Matthew's gospel -- see 17.1-9 & 17.10-13.
Elijah doesn't show up in the gospels to rescue Jesus from his sufferings on the cross. Rather, Elijah shows up precisely to point Jesus towards the cross.
Elijah doesn't come to save & rescue & deliver Jesus. Jesus came to save & rescue & deliver Elijah.
For -- just like you and me -- Elijah needed a Savior to come and deal with his sins.