After thousands of years of promise the Hope of mankind had finally entered into its world of sin to deliver men from their sorrows.  But because of the deceitful nature of sin it wasn’t at all what they were expecting, nor for what even most people today still hope.  For by seeking our own self-will to be done rather than God’s we are deceived to suppose that salvation is deliverance from the consequences of our sin, and not from sin itself.  Because the salvation Jesus came to bring was not what the sinful nature of His own Jewish countrymen were expecting, He quickly fell out of favor to the point that He was opposed and even hated, and finally delivered over to the Gentiles and now crucified.  But in delivering Him up to death, the world also unwittingly, but in exact fulfillment of God’s plan, effected the way to true salvation from sin itself by unveiling the way to life through death.  Death is man’s greatest enemy, an impenetrable darkness, the fear of which the devil uses to subject him to slavery all his life (Heb 2:14-15).  Now, as Jesus hung upon the cross, He faced the terror of that same darkness, and experienced the same despair of all who die that God has forsaken them.  But He did so in faith that even through death God would yet deliver Him, and so brought to light the gospel of true salvation, that we too might take up our cross and follow Him into eternal life through death to sin.

After crying out with the words of His father David in Psalm 22:1, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”—which words also pointed to the hope expressed in the rest of the psalm—what does Matthew record happened?  See Mat 27:47.  Did everyone misunderstand Jesus’ cry from the cross?  Cf. Mar 15:35.  Why would some have thought that Jesus was calling for Elijah when He cried out, “My God, My God…”?  See Mat 27:46 and note that the actual words He spoke sound like the name Elijah, which means my God is Yahweh.  What is the significance that they supposed He was calling for Elijah?  See Mat 27:48-49, Mar 15:35-36 and note that the prophet Elijah figured prominently in the messianic expectations of the Jews, and that Jesus, whom many believed to be the Messiah, was here crucified for His claim to be such; see Mal 4:5-6, Mat 16:13-14, 17:10-12, Luk 1:17, Joh 1:19-21,25.  Moreover, Elijah also figured prominently in the Passover, which was in process at that exact time as the Passover lambs were being sacrificed for the meal that would happen after the setting of the sun just a few hours from then.  At that meal the door, which was shut at the original Passover to keep out the angel of death, is in faith opened to invite in Elijah who will herald the messianic age and resolve all disputes about the Law.  Also at this meal four cups of wine were served representing the four expressions of the Passover redemption found in Exo 6:6-7.  A fifth cup, known as Elijah’s cup, was also quite possibly poured out as it is today but not drunk to reflect that aspect of the Passover redemption found in Exo 6:8 that is yet to be experienced when Elijah and the Messiah he heralds appear[1].

How does this help us to better understand the words of those in Mat 27:49?  How does it also help us to understand the role of Elijah played by John the Baptist in preparing the way for the Lord at His first coming?  Cf. Mat 11:10-14, Mar 1:2-3, Luk 1:16-17,76.  Is it also possible that Elijah himself, or perhaps another like John the Baptist who comes in the spirit and power of Elijah, will in the same way herald the second coming of the Messiah?  Cf. Mal 3:1-2, Mat 25:6.  How does the ministry of John the Baptist at Jesus’ first coming help us to understand what we might expect to be the role and ministry of Elijah at Jesus’ second coming?  Cf. the two witnesses in Rev 11:3-12, whom some have conjectured could be Elijah and Enoch, the two prophets from the Old Testament who for some reason or purpose of God never died but were taken directly to heaven (cf. Heb 9:27; Jud 1:14-15), or perhaps Moses and Elijah representing the witness of the Law and the Prophets (compare the plagues with which they have power to smite the earth that are reminiscent of those two. cf. Mar 9:2-4).  As Elijah prophesied during a time of great apostasy during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, and John the Baptist did similarly during the reign of the Herods to turn the hearts of the people back to God, what should we expect to be the spiritual condition of the Church before Christ’s return that a ministry of Elijah would address, and the influence of the political leaders at that time on that condition?  Cf. Mat 25:5, 2Th 2:1-4.  Is that time upon us?

[1] The four cups correspond to the four “expressions of redemption” promised by G‑d: “I will take you out from the suffering of Egypt, and I will deliver you from their bondage; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you to Myself as a nation…” (See Exo 6:6-7).  The fifth cup corresponds to the fifth expression of redemption, which comes in the following verse: “I will bring you to the Land…” This expression, however, is an allusion to the future messianic redemption, which will be announced by Elijah. This is also why we do not drink, “enjoy,” the fifth cup—as we have not yet experienced this redemption.  Elijah’s cup, in Judaism, [is] the fifth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the family seder dinner on Passover. It is left untouched in honor of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the messiah. During the seder dinner, biblical verses are read while the door is briefly opened to welcome Elijah, who, it is further said, will resolve all controversial questions connected with the Law. In this way the seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but also calls to mind their future redemption when Elijah and the messiah shall appear.