Matthew 17:9-13; Mark 9:9-13
The One Who Restores All Things
Having heard the Father’s voice on the mountain, the disciples fell on their faces for fear, but Jesus touched them and said, “Rise, and have no fear.” That’s our Lord’s way – first fear and then, “Fear not,” first conviction and then forgiveness. But the “fear not” and the forgiveness only come when we’ve humbled ourselves as these men did.
Coming down the mountain, the disciples asked a sensible question for that time. They knew Jesus was the Christ (though they did not know what all that would entail), but the scribes, who for all their failures did know the law and the prophets, said that Elijah must come first (that is, before the Messiah) to “restore all things.” “Well, the Messiah is here. Where’s Elijah?” Jesus affirmed what the scribes taught (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6; Matthew 11:11-15; Luke 1:17, 76-80), that Elijah must come first. But then Jesus said that Elijah had come, and he was murdered, just as the Son of Man would be. Then the disciples understood that Jesus was talking about John the Baptist.
We might ask, “What does this have to do with us?” I think the most important words of this passage refer to Elijah coming to “restore all things.” Peter uses this same expression preaching to the people after our Lord’s ascension: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:19-21, italics added). So, “restoring all things” refers to both the coming of John the Baptist (Elijah) and the second coming of Christ; that is, it seems to have a continuous application. We know that all things were not restored by the coming of the Baptist; furthermore, all things still have not been restored even through the resurrection of our Lord – that awaits his coming.
But we do know that all things are in the process of being restored. John’s mission of preparing the way started the ball rolling. Of course, our Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension was the pivotal point of all as untold millions have come out of darkness and into light in this the age of grace, between the two comings. But we still await our Lord’s return when his kingship is acknowledged by all and he ultimately subjects all things under the Father that He may be “all in all.” That will be the grand restoration of what was forfeited long ago: a new heaven and earth under God’s direct rule.