Considered the greatest prophet of Israel, Elijah spoke the word of God about a century after King David, during the reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah. The Israelites never quite gave up worshipping the god of the weather, Baal, and Elijah did all he could to get them to do so. 1 Kings 18 records his most famous effort.
However, the lesson reading today surrounds the last days of Elijah on earth. God let Elijah know that it was time for him to return to Heaven, so Elijah told Elisha, prophet in training, to stay behind but Elisha would not leave him. God made it possible for Elijah and Elisha to cross the Jordan River on dry land in much the same fashion as Moses.
This connection to Moses became significant by the time of Jesus. At every Passover Feast a seat was left open for Elijah to come dine with them, as is still done today. Most believers of the first century accepted that either Elijah or Moses would return as the promised Messiah.
The passage in Mark brings Moses, Elijah and Jesus together. Mark describes Jesus’ clothes, which had been the ordinary dull colors of the day, as super white; not just white but radiating, nearly blinding. The brief session is also recorded in Matthew and Luke.
Why is the experience important to us today? It is proof that Jesus is the Messiah. The greater and more dramatic proof of his resurrection will come later, but this is proof enough for hundreds of followers. God delivered His people from bondage through his servant Moses. God delivered many more from the bondage of Baal through Elijah. And Jesus came to deliver all peoples from the bondage of Satan. There is only one Messiah but there have been many forerunners. Mark describes a short meeting of two of them with the True Messiah.
God spoke directly to Peter, James and John, saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” NJB If we listen to Jesus, then we must say with Elisha, “I will not leave you.” I will work to penetrate the veil, NJB as we read in the letter to Corinth. Jesus is the light of the world and I can do nothing less than share that light with those living in darkness.
Be righteous and do good.