The Parting of the Waters:
The Case from Scripture for the Reincarnation of Jesus
By Mark Gaffney
The Prophecied Return of Elijah
The parallels between Jesus and Elisha are more than just curious, once it is understood that in Jesus' day the return of the prophet Elijah was widely expected, perhaps because of the final utterance of the fifth century BC prophet Malachi (3:24): "I will send you Elijah before the coming of the Lord." [my emphasis] That the return of Elijah was anticipated is evidenced by the pointed questions put to John the Baptist by his supporters. When John is quizzed about whether he is the returned Elijah, the Baptist repeatedly says "No." John also denies that he is the Messiah (John 1: 21-22). In his reply John cites Isaiah 40:3, asserting that he has come to prepare the way for another, one far greater than he, who will baptize not with water but with spirit (John 1: 24-34). Even in denial John alludes to the prophecy of Malachi!
Yet all of the synoptics report that the Baptist was, in fact, the reincarnated soul of Elijah. Their ratification is unanimous, and explicit. Consider, for example, the following passage from Matthew, relating an incident which occurs immediately after the Transfiguration, when the apostles question Jesus:
"And the apostles put this question to him 'Why do the scribes say, then, that Elijah has to come first?' 'True,' he replied, 'Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognize him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.' The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist."
Here, Matthew adds a short explanation, lest there be any doubt about Jesus' meaning. Another instance occurs after John the Baptist's imprisonment, when several of John's disciples visit Jesus, and question him about the Baptist. Jesus replies:
"I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm. Because it was toward John that all of the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading; and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!"
The statement about taking the kingdom of heaven "by storm" refers to the zealots who attempted to hasten the final days through rash acts. Some believed that by invoking prophecy they could precipitate the coming of the Messiah, and the day of judgment. The statement in Matthew about John the Baptist is an explicit confirmation of the transmigration of souls, i.e., reincarnation. There is no other plausible interpretation. And similar passages can be found in Mark (9:9-13) and Luke (7:26-30).