Matthew 17:9-13 John and Elijah

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

John and Elijah

Disciples are set apart by their ability to understand, but they understand by asking questions.  I was able to commend two of my students yesterday for actively pursuing more information from my classes.  Some students are getting extra credit by reading this blog.  Still others have finished reading a book early so that they can read another book and enter into bonus activity in a class.  The principle holds true for human mentorship as it did for divine mentorship.  Those who actively pursue deeper understanding receive it.  The disciples are confused, they have just seen Elijah on the mountain, but they know that Elijah is meant to come before the Messiah and not just have a converstaion with him on a mountain.  Because they ask Jesus, he explains that Elijah’s spirit is represented by John the Baptist.  Then the disciples understand.

Maybe you think you understand a lot, but Jesus is infinite and the fraction of his infinite nature that you understand is small.  Maybe you think you can not know much, but Jesus bids you to come into a relationship.  Those who take initiative find understanding.  Those who get busy with other things are sit passively are left in ignorance.


  1. What confuses the disciples?
  2. What do they do about their confusion?
  3. What answer do they get?
  4. What confuses you?
  5. How do you proactively find an answer?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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1 Response to Matthew 17:9-13 John and Elijah

  1. Kelli says:

    1. The teahers of the law had taught them that Elijah should come first, before the Messiah.
    2. They ask Jesus about it. They seek truth. And they seem to understand that Jesus is the one who can provide it.
    3. You’re right. Elijah comes first. But he already came. But those teachers of the law you talk about…they missed him. They killed him. And they are going to kill me too.
    4. I have questions about some things in Scripture that I’ve been reading recently. But I also have questions about life–about parenting, about God’s will, about sharing my faith.
    5. I am thankful that my prayer life is increasing right now. I pray that I would be able to hear God’s answers. And I am working on giving myself more space to hear him. I also talk to other people to seek answers. And I read books.

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