In 2 Kings 2:23-25 there is a story about the prophet Elisha who is jeered by some punks. Obviously, it is a bad idea to call a man of God “baldy”, because Elisha calls down a curse, and two bears jump out of the woods and maul 42 of the kids. Awwoh.
A chapter and a half later, a well-to-do woman’s son dies. This family had become good friends of Elisha, the son in fact was born after Elisha prophesied that she would have a son as a thank-you for their hospitality. Elisha went to raise the boy from the dead. Tried placing his staff on the boys face, that didn’t work. Elisha had to lie on the boy, face to face and the boy came back to life. God preformed an impressive miracle that day, one of the greatest miracles up to that point in time. A testament later, when Christ came along in human form many people thought he was the reincarnation of a previous prophet, He wanted to show that he was so much more then Elisha or any other prophet. In Luke 7 Jesus raised a boy, a complete stranger, from the dead after merely touching his coffin. In this same story Elisha non-verbally makes a point that Christ verbalizes hundreds of years later. Elisha had to touch the dead boy with his entire body before he was resorted back to life. A definite no-no according to Old Testament laws. By being willing to do this Elisha showed that there were more important things then the laws on the clean and unclean, a point Jesus talked about at length in Matthew 15:1-20.
Jesus one upping Elisha’s miracles happens on multiple occasions. A little later in the same chapter Elisha gave 20 loaves of bread and fed 100 men with it (I’m going to assume that these weren’t Wonderbread loaves which wouldn’t have too much of a problem serving 5 people each). They even had some left over. Wonderbread or not, Christ fed 50 times more men, plus women and kids, on a quarter of the bread and a couple fish. Then when the disciples picked up the leftovers, the crowd could have been scorned for leaving 12 baskets of food left over that starving kids in Africa could have eaten.
Moving on to 2 Kings 6, we read a story of an axhead floating. One of Elisha’s followers was cutting down a tree, during a gusto infused swing the axhead flew off the ax, into the lake and sank. The guy started to freak-out because he had borrowed the ax. Back then it was a little bit more of an ordeal then running to Wal-Mart and dropping $15 on a brand new ax. Elisha calms him down and asks where it flew. Dude points and Elisha cut off a stick (I guess there was another ax lying around) and threw it at that spot in the water. The iron axhead blops to the surface and floats over to shore. Back in Matthew 14, right after the feeding of the 5,000 story, we read about people walking on water. Jesus is walking to His followers on a lake (there in a boat, he’s not). Peter, one of his most gusto infused followers jumps out of the boat and starts walking on the water toward Jesus. Peter starts to get freaked-out by the wind and starts to sink. Jesus calms him down, reaches out is hand to catch people and they both walk back to the boat. Walking on water is so much more
cooler then already-really-cool bit of floating iron.
There are other similar stories such as people being healed of leprosy that I won’t go into now. But, I believe God intentionally conveys the stories of Elisha and Jesus similarly so that we can see that Elisha was a prophet sent by God and that Jesus prophesied and is God. Jesus didn’t just one-up Elisha in His miracles and actions, He more like five-uped him. Back to our first story, Jesus too was jeered by a crowd, but these were more then just some young punks. Almost an entire city wanted to put Jesus to death. Christ does not curse them, He forgives them, even the ones
nailing him to a post, so that you and I could live with him forever. And that really is the message of the New Testament compared to the Old. While we deserve to get mauled by bears, we’re not, we are given the chance to be forgiven, and I am so thankful for that.