The Lord was about to take up Elijah as he walked with Elisha, and it happened in this way: “a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces” (2 Kgs. 2:11-12). Elijah flew up to heaven; Elisha stood on the ground not far from the bank of the Jordan. As Elijah was swept up, the whirlwind stripped him of his mantle and it fell to the ground.
Jesus said to his disciples, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). A sign of God’s continuing presence, an instrument of God’s power, an Advocate at one’s side, may be in some cases little more than a mantle falling to the ground, a remnant and reminder of a friend once known and loved. “[Elisha] picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ When he struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over” (2 Kgs. 2:13-14).
The God of Scripture is one of great power who displays might and magnificence in the wonder of storms and the parting of waters. The Psalmist writes, “When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder is in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook” (Ps. 77:16-18). God is, however, no less present in a thin whisper and the small things that settle on the ground as the storm recedes. Everything from storm to silence and stillness may say something of God. When the storm is over, something of the storm’s power continues. Elisha took up the mantle of Elijah, struck the Jordan River, and the waters parted.
Jesus went up to Jerusalem, went up on the hard wood of a cross, came up from hell and the grave, and ascended into heaven. He was taken up. His presence, like a fallen mantle, remains. It may seem a small matter, but the mantle of Christ rests on the ground, near us, waiting for us. Jesus says, “If anyone will pick up this mantle, he will put on Christ, he will have the power of Christ to be a source of love and reconciliation in the world.” Use this mantle to show “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).
What great things have we done with a piece of cloth? Have we washed babies? Have we helped bathe an elderly parent? Have we washed dishes? Have we cleansed and bound up wounds? Have we wiped tears, our own and others? A priest should think about such things, and the congregation too, as a corporal is unfolded on the altar, a towel extended for the priest to dry his washed hands, a small towel used to wipe the chalice. A priest will dry the head of a newly baptized infant, gently and with love, before returning the child to the safekeeping of parents or guardians. Put on Christ. Feel and know him. Apply him to the world.
Look It Up
Read 2 Kings 2:13.
Think About It
Show power by showing mercy.