“Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Elisha, son of Shaphat of the tribe of Issachar, was the prophet of God to the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 849–786 BC. Elisha assumed the prophetic office after his predecessor and teacher Elijah was taken up into heaven.
Elisha is best known as the guy who asked for a double portion. He asked boldly for the blessings of Yahweh to be bestowed on him, and by grace it was granted to him. Our reading for today, particularly the portion that deals with bearing much fruit, is unfortunately often misunderstood. Bearing fruit is sometimes thought of as what we do, what we bear forth and give to God and neighbor. The problem here is that while the fruits we bear are for God and our neighbor, it’s not the fruits that bestow salvation to us. The Vine bears the fruit, one of which is salvation. It’s just one of many free gifts that Christ our Lord has won for us and has freely delivered in Baptism.
Elisha is a wonderful example of a branch grafted to the Vine. Taken from the fields, taught by Elijah and given a double portion of the blessings of God Himself, Elisha learned daily what it meant to receive the grace and mercy of God. He was a branch, grafted lovingly to the life-giving Vine. Whether it was the poor widow and orphan of 2 Kings 4 who received the never-ending grain and oil, or the son of the Shunammite whom Elisha raised from the dead, God used weak and lowly Elisha for His good purposes.
Finally, by Elisha’s interactions with Naaman the Syrian, an enemy of the people of God who was healed of leprosy by washing in the Jordan river, our gracious Lord revealed His mercy and grace to all. Let us praise God as we remember Elisha and those who bring to us the certain hope of our resurrection in Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Elisha, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
-Rev. Adam Degroot is pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Rio Rancho, NM.
Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.