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“And they asked him, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus replied, ‘To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.’”—Mark 9:11–13 (NIV)
Growing up, I was very fortunate to have heard many people say, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions” and “There are no dumb questions.” I know as Christians, sometimes we’re afraid to ask other Christians questions about our doubts, concerns, or lack of understanding when it comes to the Word of God. Sometimes it’s out of fear for how we’ll be perceived, and sometimes it’s just because of some previous bad experiences.
Having said that, I’m glad the Bible shows us how important it is to move forward with our questions and, more importantly, to ask God our questions directly. Jesus was asked many questions during His time physically walking among us, and His responses were intended to ultimately strengthen people’s faith.
In today’s Scripture, although the disciples were starting to grasp more about God’s plan, we can see they were still confused about previous prophecies and their fulfillment. Specifically, about what is written in Malachi 4:5–6 concerning the prophet Elijah returning before the Messiah was to appear.
Jesus immediately addresses their question, affirming what was written by the prophet and that it will indeed be fulfilled. You see, that prophecy is about Jesus’ second coming. And because Jesus knew them better than they knew themselves and what they were really asking, He knew He needed to address their question about the Messiah’s first coming so He could bring their attention to the prophecy about the how the Messiah will suffer and be treated with contempt (Isaiah 53). He also brought attention to the fact that someone already came as an “Elijah” or “in the spirit of Elijah” (Luke 1:16–17) and made a way for Him. This person also suffered.
In the Book of Matthew, this same story goes on to say that the disciples understood Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13). Jesus held John the Baptist in high esteem, just as He holds those in high esteem who are willing to accept Him as Lord, face suffering, and ultimately live life in glory with Him (Matthew 11:11).
It’s incredible all that we can learn from God, about God, and even about ourselves when we ask Him directly! Even if we’re off track with our question, He is gracious enough to reroute us and ultimately lead us to His heart and His truth. What a patient, loving God we have!
Pause: Do I come to Jesus with my concerns and questions about the Bible? How do I listen for His answers?
Practice: Ask the Lord your most pressing question(s) about the Bible. Be expectant for Him to answer you. However, be open to the fact that He will answer in His perfect time.
Pray: Dear Lord, as the disciples did, when I ask honest questions about the Bible, please guide me to what Your heart is. Thank You for being patient with me as I seek You. Amen.
Mirely Maldonado has been part of the Calvary Chapel family since 2013 and now serves as staff in the Events Department. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Film & Digital Video Production and has taught the Bible at Bible Study Fellowship for six years. She treasures good conversation, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, and loves reading.