“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)
Reading this passage, I see a parallel between Elijah/Elisha and Jesus. Both Jesus and Elijah knew their time was coming to an end, and they had with them their followers. But the disciples did not do as good a job at understanding Jesus as Elisha did understanding Elijah and following in his footsteps. Of course, the disciples were not at the end of their learning journey as Elisha was. And Jesus was more complex than Elijah was, so allowances can and should be made.
“As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Verses 57 – 62)
Again, I see the parallels; do you beloved reader? Elisha followed, even when Elijah would have excused him. The people that Jesus encountered always had one reason or another to not follow. Elisha left friends and family to follow Elijah. Perhaps the recognition of “different times, different perspectives” needs to be applied here. That following Jesus, who had a reputation of being radical and ridiculed, would be harder to leave everything behind for, and follow. But, Elijah was threatened with death by royalty.
So, maybe the awkward parallels need to stand. However, the question can be applied to our modern world; who are we? Elishas who are ready and wanting to step into the footsteps of a prophet? Or would-be disciples who keep looking back to what we had and what was familiar? It is a good question to consider as the Sabbath approaches. Selah!