We have a desire for heroes - for those that we can count on; for those with unusual courage; for those that are better than us. Sometimes, we anoint those as heroes who are very like us.
Last week, we saw how both Moses and Elijah were considered by Peter as heroes along with Jesus. Perhaps because only Peter, James and John were invited along to be a part of this spectacle, they were to be considered “heroes-in-training.” But alas, we will find that there was only one hero in the group.
For all of Moses’ wonderful humble-servant qualities, he was not perfect. He was not hero caliber. Those who are humble servants will struggle with times of feeling taken-for-granted. While they love to serve, they can also feel used. These people are easy to walk on, and it gets tiring. And so, one day, when God instructed Moses to serve once again by merely speaking a word, he instead took to swinging a stick. And it cost him passage to the Promised Land. Thankfully, it did not cost him fellowship with Jesus, and so we see him on the Mt. of Transfiguration - not a hero, but a sinner, beholding the glory of the One and Only Hero.
Elijah’s job was to be strong and clear in the face of an evil king and queen. His role required great courage since it entailed great risk. Once you risk your skin a few times, it is easy to conclude that you deserve a few perks from God. It is easy to feel important in God’s plan, essential, indispensable. It seems that Elijah felt that he was more zealous for God than God was zealous for Elijah. And he had to be put in his place. He had to be removed from the scene.
But I’m glad that Elijah is included in the scene in Mark 9, not because he is a hero, but because the One and Only Hero, Jesus, forgives sinners, just as he did Moses, and Elijah, and Peter, and me.