Coming Out of the Shadows

“But He said to them, ‘You give them something to eat!’ And they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.’ … Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full” (Luke 9:13, 16-17).

For Luke, the Elijah-Elisha narratives in 1-2 Kings serve as an essential background to his theological strategy in Luke-Acts. Even though Elijah is one of the Bible’s greatest prophets, Elisha’s miracles are greater in scope and in number. Elijah made a supernatural supply of a bread from only a handful of flour and oil for one widow and her son (1 Kings 17:7-24). But Elisha did something far greater!

Many of Elijah and Elisha’s other miracles likewise serve as shadows of Yeshua’s miracles in Luke’s Gospel

“Now a man came from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat.’ His attendant said, ‘What, will I set this before a hundred men?’ But he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the LORD, “They shall eat and have some left over.”‘ So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD” (2 Kings 4:42-44).

By reading this story of Elisha’s miraculous provision of bread, we can see a nearly perfect outline of Yeshua in shadow form! Many of Elijah and Elisha’s other miracles likewise serve as shadows of Yeshua’s miracles in Luke’s Gospel. Consider, for example, Luke’s stories of the healing of a leper (Luke 5:12-16; see 2 Kings 5:1-19), the raising of the widow’s son from the grave (Luke 7:11-17; see 1 Kings 17:7-24; 2 Kings 4:8-37), and the opening of blinded eyes (Luke 18:35-43; see 2 Kings 6:17-20).

And just as Elisha’s miracles superseded Elijah’s, so Yeshua demonstrates both in word and deed that he is far greater than these prophetic predecessors who serve as shadows and prefigurations of Israel’s Messianic King! By noticing the qualitative difference between the shadows and their Messianic reality, Luke not only wants us to see Yeshua’s all-surpassing power and glory, but also to cast aside all our doubts as to who Yeshua truly is!

“When the men came to Him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”‘ At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. And He answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me'” (Luke 7:20-23).

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