Posts Tagged ‘elijah’

Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus

June 30, 2010

Elisha looks on as Elijah is carried into heaven.

Question:

It seems like there are a lot of parallels between Elijah and Jesus.  The miracles, the feeding of many from a small amount of food, the raising back to life of a child, etc.  Miracles were done the same way it seems but with seemingly little impact on the culture. These actions were done by Jesus, with him the whole world got changed.  You don’t hear many people talking about Elisha the Prophet but he seemed to have done many things that Jesus did.

Answer:

There are definitely many similarities between Jesus and the prophets.  In fact Jesus was a prophet himself, or more accurately, Jesus was The Prophet.  In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus launches his ministry by making an outright declaration of his messianic and prophetic role.  “The Spirit is on ME, because he has ANOINTED me to proclaim the good news…” (Luke 4:18).  Even the people observed this about Jesus saying, “They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people” (Luke 7:16).  And Jesus was treated just as poorly as the past prophets of Israel.  In the Gospel of Luke he rebukes the leaders of Israel pointing to the irony of how they always reject the prophets when they are with them, but then glorify them long after they are dead (Luke 11:47-51).  He said this because the leaders of Israel were all trying to reject Jesus, a prophet in their midst.

Elijah and Elisha were special prophets.  God performed some spectacular miracles through Elijah and he is one of the few people in scripture who does not die.  Rather he was whisked away in a chariot to heaven.  Elijah also appears with Jesus and Moses in the account of the transfiguration in Matthew 17:1–13 and Luke 9:28–36.  The prophet Malachi also prophesied that Elijah would return, and Jesus himself confirms that John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come (see Matthew 11:14; 17:10–13).  Elisha was also a prophet of the miraculous, a trait that he received from his predecessor Elijah, who blessed him with a “double portion” of his spirit.

The parallels are certainly present between these great prophets and Jesus.  Jesus of course bears the unique privilege of being the Son of God, not a “Man of God” as Elijah was so often called.  Jesus was divine, and that fact alone is enough to set him apart from these other heavyweight prophets.  Furthermore, God did something with Jesus that had never happened before and still has not happened (not yet at least), God raised Jesus from the dead.  Granted, there are other resurrections in the bible, but Jesus died and rose again and is still risen.  All the others died eventually, and we will die as well, though resurrection awaits all who place their faith in Jesus.

This is no small thing.  The prophets brought powerful messages but saw little if any change among the people.  Jesus death and resurrection was the catalyst that would start a movement that would change the world.  Just look at what happens after his resurrection in the book of Acts.

Elijah and Elisha were great men of God, but Jesus is a savior, a messiah, and indeed God himself.