Then [Jesus'] disciples asked him, "Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?"
Jesus replied, "Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but he wasn't recognized, and they chose to abuse him. And in the same way they will also make the Son of Man suffer." Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist.
— Matthew 17:10-13 NLT
The great Old Testament hope, God's promise, is now fulfilled. The one like Elijah has come. His preaching was powerful and made many others ready to come to Christ. The promised latter-day Elijah has come!
Jesus knows what the disciples have not known until now: John the Baptist was the promised latter-day Elijah. He came and ministered, but under opposition and hatred from the Jewish ruling counsel, and then was martyred. Still, his way ensured Jesus' way. Even though John as Elijah died, his ministry was the launching pad of Jesus' ministry.
Almighty Father, thank you for honesty. Thank you for making your grace available at such unthinkable cost. Thank you for John and Elijah who spoke your truth and rekindled people's hopes. But most of all, thank you for Jesus! In his precious name we pray. Amen.