John the Baptist and Elijah

Descending from the mount Jesus explains, in an- Matt. xvii. 10-13.

swer to a question from the apostles, how Elias must Mark ix. 11-13. be the forerunner of the Messiah. At the foot of the

mountain they meet the other apostles surrounded by Matt. xvii. 14-21.

a multitude, among whom were scribes questioning Mark ix. 14-29.

with them. The Lord heals a lunatic child, whom the Luke ix. 37-42. apostles had not been able to heal.

That Elijah must personally precede the Messiah, was one of the firmest and most undoubted convictions of the

Jews ; and the fact that the Baptist denied himself to be Elijah, was a circumstance that went far to discredit his mission. If he was not Elijah then Jesus could not be the Christ. If he was a prophet, and so all the people regarded him, it by no means followed that the Messiah must immediately follow him; for there might be many prophets who should act as forerunners, and yet Elijah alone should prepare His way. As we have seen, most of the people seem to have regarded Jesus Himself only as one of the prophetic forerunners of the Messiah. Educated in the current belief respecting the office of Elijah, the three apostles could not reconcile it with his appearance upon the mount. The Lord clears up this great difficulty by explaining to them the truth, so strange, that there should be two comings of the Messiah, and so two forerunners. Thus the mystery of two Elijahs was cleared up so soon as the mystery of the two comings was known. It is remarked by Alford: " The double allusion is only the assertion that the Elias (in spirit and power) who foreran our Lord's first coming, was a partial fulfilment of the great prophecy, which announces the real Elias, (the words of Malachi iv. 5, 6, will hardly bear any other than a personal meaning,) who is to forerun His greater and second coming."

The other apostles and disciples had remained at the foot of the mount, probably in some town or village, during the absence of the Lord. In the morning, before He descended, a crowd had gathered around them, doubtless seeking Him, and in the crowd a man who had brought his lunatic son to be healed. In the absence of Jesus, he presented him to the disciples, who could not heal him. Among those present were, certain scribes, who, apparently taking occasion from their ill success, began to question with them, and plainly with an evil intent. Whilst they are disputing with the disciples Jesus appears, and is gladly received by the multitude. In answer to the father's prayer He heals the child, after a severe rebuke of the general unbelief. The question afterward addressed to Him by the disciples when alone, " Why could not we cast him out?" shows that they supposed the power to work miracles, which had been given the Twelve when they were sent forth upon their mission, was still continued to them.