Last Saturday Jessica and I attended the working with wood Show at Olympic Park Homebush where we acted as Marshalls for two hours before going off to enjoy the displays and wares.
The video above, which I took with my Disabilty Telephone for the Deaf is of very low resolution but shows one of the turners from our Region turning a box on a Lathe.
The box began its life as a rectangular length of wood and through due process became a beautiful box with a slender Finial for its handle( like a church spire).
In our first reading and our gospel this Sunday we find that Process is present throughout the Journeys of the Phrophet Elijah and the Greatest Prophet Jesus as they make their way to their Ascensions. Within this procession we are taught about discipleship, that of Elisha and the three Jesus meets along the way.
Both readings begin with the statement of the imanent death of the main characters in the narratives.
“Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.”(2 Kings 2:1 NRSV) and “51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.” ( Luke 9:51 NRSV) Take good notice here that Jesus is not speqaking of his death but his Ascension since he speaks of “being taken up”.
Beginning at Gilgal, via Bethel and Jericho Elijah and Elisha arrive at the Jordan where they pass over just as their anscestors had in the time of Moses. At Gilgal Elijah puts Elisha to the test by telling him to remain there because the Lord has sent him to Bethel yet Elisha replies , ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ (2Kings 2:2b NRSV) This dialogue occurs twice more until they reach the Jordan together.
Meanwhile nine centuries later in time Jesus and the 12 are making their way via Samaria to Jerusalem. Peter James and John have just experienced the presence of Elijah and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration, almost as though in God’s eternal present the Prophet and the Messiah have just crossed eachother’s path once again. The heaven bound Chariot the Mountain and the Ascension.
James and John the sons of Thunder want to call down fire on the Samaritan town that does not want to receive Jesus once they discover that he is going to Jerusalem and has not come to Gerizim. Jesus rebuked them – possibly this 1
- Luke 9:56 Other ancient authorities read rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what spirit you are of, 56 for the Son of Man has not come to destroy the lives of human beings but to save them.” Then(NRSV)
Not the action of Elisha. At each stage of the journey they are met by a Company of Prophets of Israel who say to Elisha ‘Do you know that today theLord will take your master away from you?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, I know; be silent.’( 2 Kings 2:5b); until 50 of them are standing a little way off from the Jordan as Elijah removes his mantle and uses it to strike the water so that he and Elisha pass over on dryland as had their anscestors.
Elisha accepted the coming death of his Mentor whereas the 12 seemed to be dull of mind or deaf of Heart to Jesus telling them that he was going up to Jerusalem to die.
Ask one more thing before I go
A double portion of your spirit – did he know what he had asked for? Could we ask for the same? It would be granted only should Elisha see Elijah as he was taken up -” ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ he said ‘But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.'”(2Kings2:12). His wish granted he rended his garments, took the mantle and struck the water with in calling upon the god of Elijah -( faithful though he yet didn’t realize that this god was much more than the god of a person or place) and passed over dryshod.
Elisha returned to Gilgal by the same route they came from there, each one of these places had paid a significant part in the history of the Israelites and it was perhaps symbolic to trace it, as it’s future profit.
What of Jesus and the 12
Considering his reception in Samaria, did Jesus have to go to Jerusalem that way, the answer is No he didn’t. He could have taken the long way round Samaria to avoid going through it; as most righteous Jews did to “avoid the despised Samaritans”. * However just as Elijah had done Jesus took the opportunity to take his disciples to places of Significant Historical interest to instruct them in their heritage and to teach them their mission.
Finally – and I bet you are quite pleased to hear that – we look at what it means to be the perfect disciple, remembering the threefold testing of Elisha.
- I will follow you wherever you go (Luke 9:57b) The cost of discipleship may involve having nowhere to live, being an itinerant preacher something akin to the Friars Minor where in their early years. AKA Giving up everything else for the sake of the gosple.
- To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.(Luke9:59a); discipleship is not something that we can defer until later,you see the elder son was responsible to see that his parents were duly buried and that might take time. I hazard a guess that the dead burying the dead may indicate that those who do wait are dead in the Spirit.
- ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.'(Luke 9:61)Once the decision to become a disciple has been made there can be no going back, looking back while ploughing and you will plough a crooked furrow unfit for the kingdom of God.
So where are we on the discipleship continuum? Can we honestly say that we could sell house and home( for an itinerant existance) and forsake family, without looking back, for the sake of the Kingdom? Or does the example of Elisha give the same example with a less harsh telling?
- * “There were two ways to travel to Jerusalem from Galilee. One was a direct route south through Samaria. The other was to cross the Jordan and go south on the other side of the Jordan. Many Jews would have done the latter in order to avoid the despised Samaritans. But Jesus took the direct route through Samaria. As I mentioned earlier, it normally was a three-day journey, but on this last journey to Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples meandered around southern Galilee and Samaria ministering on the way, and they took much longer.”