The Passing of the Mantle

Travis West

READ : 2 Kings 2:1-18

He picked up the mantle of Elijah. (v. 13 NRSV)

In high school I ran on the track team. One of my least favorite events was the 4×400 meter relay. I didn’t like it for two reasons. First, it is a grueling race; running 400 meters as fast as you can leaves you completely exhausted, every muscle in your body crying for mercy. The second reason I disliked it was because we didn’t practice passing the baton very often, and I always feared I would drop it and disqualify my team.

Transitions—in sports or in leadership—are never easy. Elijah takes his job as God’s prophet with ferocious seriousness; he doesn’t want the mantle dropped. Elisha, likewise, is serious about becoming a prophet but doesn’t know what it is like to bear the title: “Man of God.” Ultimately it is God who ensures the successful succession of the prophetic ministry in Israel.

After Elijah’s dazzling departure, Elisha picked up his mantle. He didn’t sulk, he wasn’t paralyzed by anxiety, he simply took up where his mentor left off and headed back to the Jordan. It was now his responsibility to lead God’s people “further up and further in” to God’s preferred future. But the mantle didn’t only fall from Elijah. Eventually it would fall from Elisha too and be taken up by another prophet. The baton has been passed down for centuries, and through Christ we all must pick it up—now shaped as a cross—and follow in Jesus’ footsteps into God’s preferred future.

PRAYER

Empower us to daily pick up your mantle.