Summary: We look on him who was pierced and we see the heart of God; we also see ourselves and are moved to tears of repentance and amendment of life.
TRINITY 2 ZECHARIAH 12__8-10 AND 13__1 WHEN THEY LOOK ON WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED
The 3 year lectionary has been a great gift to us. Today’s conjunction of Zechariah and Luke 9__18 gives marvelous insight into Jesus’ understanding of Himself and the way in which he taught his disciples regarding His mission. This of course influenced their understanding of the Messiah and the way they passed on the Gospel message to the world.
We see the message clearly in Acts. Described in Acts is a well to do man from Africa from Africa, riding in his limousine reading the Prophet Isaiah. Though he was obviously learned, for he could read, a rarity in those days, he could make no sense of the text of Isaiah 53. “He was wounded for our transgressions: . . .of whom does the author speak? Himself? Or another?” The Ethiopian had no frame of reference, no historic pegs, no names, no dates or events by which to understand the narrative.
The 11th through the 13th chapters of Zecharaiah are among the most difficult in all Scripture to interpret. We have the same problem as the Ethiopian described in Acts.
Modern day understanding of Zechariah is impeded by first, the conquest of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Also the burning of the Library at Alexandria in ancient times. These and other calamities, such as the fall of civilizations, broke the oral tradition and thus the keys to understanding ancient cultures were lost. These keys began to be restored with the science of archaelogy that has made grade strides in the 19th and 20th centuries. The discovery and translation of the Dead Sea Scroll, the interpretation of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, the learning of how to read the language of the ancient Babylonians, and Sumarians have shed light on the Old Testament.
The Ethiopian Eunuch learned from Philip that Isaiah was talking about a Messiah, a Deliverer who was to lead the people of Israel-Judah in their struggles against foreign occupying armies. This Messiah would not only strengthen his people and vanquish the enemy he would also bring in an era of peace and prosperity; not only for Israel, Judah, but also for the whole world.
Philip identified this Christ as the risen Jesus of Nazareth. Christ is not Jesus’ last name, it is a title meaning Anointed Leader, one chosen and specially impowered by God.
Jesus, in His lifetime became the Christ. He was openly declared so by His death burial and Resurrection. He conquered the last and unltimate enemy – death. Then He brought life and importality to mankind, to all who will accept His leadership (Galatians 3 enlarges on this.)
Luke 9:18-24, as well as passages in Mark indicates that Jesus wished the Disciples to keep identity secret. This is called by some “the Messianic Secret.” Peter has just announced “You are Messiah” Jesus say, “Keep that information to yourself.. . until the Son of Man is risen from the Dead.”
Why did Jesus do this”?
There are two parts to the answer.
A. His own understanding of His role came gradually to Him. “He learned obedience by the things He suffered. He had emptied himself when He came to earth as a human baby. He became a man like the rest of us. He was known as a man, the carpenter’s son, the Son of Mary, and as a prophet. He knew himself this way at first. How could a child have carried the knowledge of the Cross with him and maintained sanity? As Luke said, “He grew in knowledge and faith and in God’s favor.” Therefore, part of the answer as to why Jesus asked the Disciples to keep the Messianic secret, was so that He would have time to pray, to discern God’s will, and to understand what was going on. Scripture teaches that in the days of his flesh, he prayed to the Father with strong crying. I believe the full understanding of His role was not made clear to Him until the last week of His life as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemanee. If Jesus had not been emptied, why would He have to pray to understand God’s will? He, like you, must offer prayers mingled with tears at times, to come to understand our roles in life.
B. The Second part of the answer to the question as to why Jesus kept the Messianic Secret is that when He came to understand his role, he did not want his mission to be thwarted by an overly enthusiastic crowd that would start a bloody rebellion against Rome. He remembered the revolt under the Maccabees and could foresee that such a potential uprising was again at hand. Jesus had come to understand that the Father’s way to change the world was not with the sword, but with the cord’s that bind men to one another. Jesus had come to understand that the Christ would not only lead in victory over the enemy, but would also be the one who would bring peace. Some how, in the process of overcoming the world, peace would come. From the teaching of the Prophets Jesus knew that 1. Evil leaders would be exposed as evil 2. The Messiah would be tortured and Killed. 3. When “they look on me. . . .the one they pierced” somehow, humanity could see clearly that the Suffering Servant of God, the martyrs, the Nation, and pre-eminently the Messiah, was God’s way of drawing humanity to Himself. Jesus taught, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to myself.” Jesus understood that the world would not give up the madness of war, the insanity of murder and brutality until they understood that when one suffers, all suffer, including the Father. Therefore, Jesus could not risk that His way of the Cross would be interupted by an insurrection. He did not evade his destiny, he pushed on to Jerusalem and the Cross so that He would be “lifted up” and become a stop sign for all humanity throughout all time. We look on him who was pierced and we see the heart of God. We also see ourselves and are moved to tears of repentance and amendment of life. At the foot of the Cross then, there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free men. Even sexual differences do not divide our common humanity . We like the Ethiopian have been baptized into Christ and live his new life now. We are all in the family of the faithful, children of Abraham.