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.

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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.

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