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A Call for Justice and Mercy
1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. 2 Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the Lord, 3 saying to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
4 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: 5 “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? 6 And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? 7 Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?”
8 And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, 9 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.[a] 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. 13 “As I[b] called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts, 14 “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”
I Am the Good Shepherd
1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
I and the Father Are One
22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.
THE LAST TWO CHAPTERS OF the first part of Zechariah are triggered by a question. The question is posed by a delegation from the exiles about liturgical observance. The Jews in Babylon wanted to remain in liturgical sync with the Jerusalemites. Their delegation is pretty early in the life of the returned community—late 518 B.C., just over twenty years since the initial restoration and only a year since the commitment to rebuild the temple, under the preaching of Haggai, had taken hold. The formal answer to their question is not given until 8:18-19. Yet the focus on fasting as a ritual to be observed calls forth sermonic material and various oracular sayings from the Lord that press beyond merely formal observance and call the people, yet again, to fundamental issues. Zechariah 7 is the first of these two chapters, and verses 5-14 provide the first barrage of the prophetic response. We may usefully organize this material by asking three questions:
(1) Is our religion for us or for God? The prophet Zechariah faithfully conveys God’s question to the delegates of the exiles: when across seventy years (i.e., from 587) they faithfully fasted on certain days, thinking those were the “proper” days, did they do so primarily as an act of devotion to God, or out of some self-centered motivation of wanting to feel good about themselves (7:5-7)? Fasting may be no more than self-pity, or faithfulness to a cultural mandate, or passive acceptance of tradition. How much of the religious practice was offered to God?
(2) Does our religion elevate ritual above morality? That is the burden of Zechariah’s stinging review of earlier Jewish history (7:8-12). Implicitly, Zechariah is asking if their concern for liturgical uniformity is matched by a passionate commitment to “show mercy and compassion to one another,” and to abominate the oppression of the weak and helpless in society (7:9-10). Indeed, a genuinely moral mind extends to inner reflection: “In your hearts do not think evil of each other” (7:10). Implicitly, Zechariah asks us precisely the same questions.
(3) Does our religion prompt us passionately to follow God’s words, or to pursue our own religious agendas? “When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen” (7:13), the Lord Almighty announces. Passionate intensity about the details of religion, including liturgical reformation, is worse than useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. In true religion, nothing, nothing at all, is more important than whole-hearted and unqualified obedience to the words of God.
The Coming Peace and Prosperity of Zion
1 And the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3 Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. 6 Thus says the Lord of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts? 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, 8 and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”
9 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Let your hands be strong, you who in these days have been hearing these words from the mouth of the prophets who were present on the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built. 10 For before those days there was no wage for man or any wage for beast, neither was there any safety from the foe for him who went out or came in, for I set every man against his neighbor. 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, declares the Lord of hosts. 12 For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. 13 And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.”
14 For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, 15 so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not. 16 These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; 17 do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”
18 And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, 19 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.
20 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. 21 The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ 22 Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. 23 Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
The Death of Lazarus
1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin,[b] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[c] off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for[f] Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
AT THE END OF THE ACCOUNT OF the resurrection of Lazarus, John pens a short section steeped in ironies (John 11:45-53). All of them point unerringly to the cross.
(1) The authorities are thoroughly frustrated. No one can deny that the miracle Jesus has performed actually occurred: it was too public, and Lazarus was genuinely dead—so dead that the smell of decomposition was public and obnoxious (11:39). So how can the Sanhedrin trim Jesus’ rising authority or quell the messianic fervor that is likely to erupt when the report of the miracle circulates? Eventually, they fear, “everyone will believe in him,” the rebellion will become established, “and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (11:48). There may be irony even in their mention of “our place”: the peculiar expression could refer to the temple (as the NIV footnote suggests), yet it is hard to deny that their real interest is not so much the temple as their place of privilege in society. Yet there is a deeper irony. As the story unfolds, they take action against Jesus, and he is crucified. Yet this fails to preserve their “place.” Within forty years, the Romans descend on Jerusalem and crush it. They destroy the temple. And the “place” of the authorities is wiped out.
(2) But that is still in the future. It is Caiaphas who first formalizes the concrete proposal to pervert justice, sacrificing judicial integrity on the altar of political expediency. “You know nothing at all!” he exclaims (11:49), his pique belittling his colleagues as, in effect, a bunch of nincompoops. “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (11:50). Note: it is better for you—that is the real locus of interest, the political selfishness behind the political claptrap. Bump off Jesus, and the messianic fervor dies and the nation is spared: it all seems so clean, so logical—and besides, it will be good for “our place.” So Jesus dies—and the tragic irony is that the nation perishes anyway. Not even A.D. 70 was the end of it. Six decades later the Bar Kochba revolt brought in the Romans again (132—135). Jerusalem was razed to the ground. It became a capital offense for any Jew to live anywhere in the environs of Jerusalem.
(3) But there is a deeper irony yet, which John detects in Caiaphas’s words. Caiaphas speaks as high priest, and in God’s providence he speaks better than he knows. Jesus dies for the Jewish nation, and not only for them “but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one” (11:52).
Judgment on Israel's Enemies
1 The oracle of the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach
and Damascus is its resting place.
For the Lord has an eye on mankind
and on all the tribes of Israel,[a]
2 and on Hamath also, which borders on it,
Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
3 Tyre has built herself a rampart
and heaped up silver like dust,
and fine gold like the mud of the streets.
4 But behold, the Lord will strip her of her possessions
and strike down her power on the sea,
and she shall be devoured by fire.
5 Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid;
Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish;
Ekron also, because its hopes are confounded.
The king shall perish from Gaza;
Ashkelon shall be uninhabited;
6 a mixed people[b] shall dwell in Ashdod,
and I will cut off the pride of Philistia.
7 I will take away its blood from its mouth,
and its abominations from between its teeth;
it too shall be a remnant for our God;
it shall be like a clan in Judah,
and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites.
8 Then I will encamp at my house as a guard,
so that none shall march to and fro;
no oppressor shall again march over them,
for now I see with my own eyes.
The Coming King of Zion
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.
13 For I have bent Judah as my bow;
I have made Ephraim its arrow.
I will stir up your sons, O Zion,
against your sons, O Greece,
and wield you like a warrior's sword.
The Lord Will Save His People
14 Then the Lord will appear over them,
and his arrow will go forth like lightning;
the Lord God will sound the trumpet
and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.
15 The Lord of hosts will protect them,
and they shall devour, and tread down the sling stones,
and they shall drink and roar as if drunk with wine,
and be full like a bowl,
drenched like the corners of the altar.
16 On that day the Lord their God will save them,
as the flock of his people;
for like the jewels of a crown
they shall shine on his land.
17 For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!
Grain shall make the young men flourish,
and new wine the young women.
Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
The Plot to Kill Lazarus
9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus[d] was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The Triumphal Entry
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
Some Greeks Seek Jesus
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
The Unbelief of the People
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
Jesus Came to Save the World
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
ZECHARIAH 9—14 CONSTITUTES A second and distinctive part of the book. With their apocalyptic images and colorful metaphors, these chapters include many units hard to understand. Usually, however, the main line of thought is clear enough. Zechariah 9 can be divided into three sections:
(1) The first is “an oracle” (9:1-8). The peculiar word used suggests something of compulsion: this oracle is a “burden” to the prophet, and he cannot keep it in. In the past, most of Israel’s enemies have come from the north. In this oracle, however, it is Yahweh himself who advances on the Promised Land from the north. The sequence of cities mentioned establishes the geography: he will conquer all the cities down the coast and come to his own house (9:8) and defend his own people. The ultimate hope of God’s people resides in something more dramatic than the return from exile that they have already experienced. It resides in the supreme visitation of Almighty God.
(2) The second section depicts the arrival of the king (9:9-10). These verses are steeped in allusions to earlier Old Testament passages—to the figure pictured in Genesis 49:10-11, to the kingly deeds of Micah 5:10, to the extent of his kingdom in Psalm 72:8, and so forth. The figure, in short, is messianic, yet the preceding verses depict Yahweh himself coming to rescue his people. Thus in some respects the passage is akin to Isaiah 9:1ff.: there, too, a prophet looks forward to a Davidic king, yet one who is called “the mighty God.” Matthew 21:5 and John 12:15 allude to this passage in their respective accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Neither of them refers to verse 10, for both of these evangelists are aware that only a partial fulfillment has taken place in their day. Unqualified disarmament and unqualified peace among the nations (9:10) await the consummation. In this sort of partial quotation of an Old Testament text they follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who for exactly the same reason—that is, because the final judgment still lies in the future—cites certain parts of Old Testament passages and not others (cf. Matt. 11:2-19, and meditation for July 1).
(3) God still speaks, and he gives all the reasons for rejoicing (9:11-17). He himself will come and free the prisoners, for his covenantal faithfulness has been sealed in blood—not only in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 15:9-11) but in its extension in the Mosaic covenant (Ex. 24:8), and supremely in the blood of the new covenant that was shed on a hill outside Jerusalem (see Mark 14:24).
The Restoration for Judah and Israel
1 Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain,
to everyone the vegetation in the field.
2 For the household gods utter nonsense,
and the diviners see lies;
they tell false dreams
and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.
3 “My anger is hot against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;[a]
for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
and will make them like his majestic steed in battle.
4 From him shall come the cornerstone,
from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
from him every ruler—all of them together.
5 They shall be like mighty men in battle,
trampling the foe in the mud of the streets;
they shall fight because the Lord is with them,
and they shall put to shame the riders on horses.
6 “I will strengthen the house of Judah,
and I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
and they shall be as though I had not rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.
7 Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior,
and their hearts shall be glad as with wine.
Their children shall see it and be glad;
their hearts shall rejoice in the Lord.
8 “I will whistle for them and gather them in,
for I have redeemed them,
and they shall be as many as they were before.
9 Though I scattered them among the nations,
yet in far countries they shall remember me,
and with their children they shall live and return.
10 I will bring them home from the land of Egypt,
and gather them from Assyria,
and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon,
till there is no room for them.
11 He shall pass through the sea of troubles
and strike down the waves of the sea,
and all the depths of the Nile shall be dried up.
The pride of Assyria shall be laid low,
and the scepter of Egypt shall depart.
12 I will make them strong in the Lord,
and they shall walk in his name,”
declares the Lord.
Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
One of You Will Betray Me
21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side,[e] 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus[f] of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
A New Commandment
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus Foretells Peter's Denial
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
THE ACCOUNT OF JESUS WASHING his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) is narrated to establish several points:
(1) Walking on dusty roads in open sandals took its toll. Many homes would assign the lowest of the servants to wash the feet of visitors. On this occasion, however, Jesus and his closest disciples are on their own, and no one thinks to take on the role of the humblest servant—no one, that is, but Jesus himself. The way John marshals the facts shows that, decades later when he is writing these lines, he is still awed by the dimensions of the deed. Jesus knows that it is time for him to go to the cross, “to leave this world and go to the Father” (13:1), but he is not self-absorbed. He knows that one of those whose feet he will wash is Judas Iscariot, who, sold out as he is to the devil, is in the process of betraying him. Jesus knows whence he has come, “that he had come from God and was returning to God” (13:3). All along he has “loved his own who were in the world,” and now he shows them “the full extent of his love” (13:1)—not only the foot-washing itself, but the cross, to which the footwashing points (as we shall see). Knowing all this, loving like this, “he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist” (13:4)—it is as if every step has been indelibly burned onto John’s memory, and he can play it back, again and again, in slow motion. In the hush of the room, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet.
(2) Peter balks (13:6-11). The exchange that follows is multi-layered. On the surface of things, there is a form of humility that is actually proud. In one sense, the most humbling thing to endure in this setting is Jesus washing your feet. So there is a lesson in humility. But there is something deeper: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (13:7); Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet anticipates, symbolically, the washing that is accomplished by the cross, the supreme self-humiliation that is displayed in the cross. Peter will understand such things only after the events. And then, in a moment of flip-flop enthusiasm, Peter wants a bath, and a third level is peeled back to view: a person who is already clean does not need a bath, but only to have his feet washed (13:10). And in some respects the disciples, with the exception of the son of perdition, are already clean. Here, then, is a picture of the “once-for-all” element in the cross (cf. Heb. 9:11-14, 23-26); we do not need a new sacrifice, but fresh confession (1 John 1:7, 9).
(3) And always there is the demand to be like Jesus. Reflect on 13:12-17 and its bearing on us today.
The Flock Doomed to Slaughter
1 Open your doors, O Lebanon,
that the fire may devour your cedars!
2 Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen,
for the glorious trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan,
for the thick forest has been felled!
3 The sound of the wail of the shepherds,
for their glory is ruined!
The sound of the roar of the lions,
for the thicket of the Jordan is ruined!
4 Thus said the Lord my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. 5 Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them. 6 For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.”
7 So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. 8 In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. 9 So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” 10 And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11 So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. 12 Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. 14 Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
15 Then the Lord said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.
17 “Woe to my worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm
and his right eye!
Let his arm be wholly withered,
his right eye utterly blinded!”
I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life
14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[c] 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[d] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[f] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[g] in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
ZECHARIAH HAS ALREADY USED imagery associated with sheep and shepherd (9:16; 10:2, 3, 8-12; 11:3). Now he deploys it at length (Zech. 11:4-17). The passage is difficult. Probably it is an extended allegory, rather than something acted out, if only because of all the other people involved. Quite certainly its purpose is to overturn a major assumption about leadership. Many think that if a nation has the right ruler, all will be well. But here the right shepherd is hated and rejected.
(1) The “LORD my God,” Zechariah says, gives the people one last chance (11:4-6). God commissions him to serve as shepherd of a flock “marked for slaughter,” i.e., raised for their meat. The “sheep” are oppressed people, while their oppressors are variously their own shepherds who fatten them for the slaughter, and the traders who “slaughter them and go unpunished” (11:5). The language that describes their owners is scathing: they sell them for slaughter and say, “Praise the LORD, I am rich!” (11:5)—as if wealth were a reliable index of the Lord’s favor (cf. Mark 10:23). The “buyers” in the parable are the occupying powers. Thus the “sellers,” the leaders of the covenant people, are complicit in “selling out” their people. Zechariah’s mission as a shepherd, to save this flock, appears doomed to failure. God himself will turn the people over to their own neighbors and their own king. They are not loyal to him, and he abandons them to their fellow citizens—and God will not rescue them (11:6).
(2) In the second section (11:7-14), the good shepherd, Zechariah, is rejected. One might have thought that the flock would turn to him for rescue, since everyone else—sellers, shepherds, buyers—are intent on selling them and profiting from them. But the flock detests the good shepherd (11:8). Eventually he abandons the sheep to follow the course they are determined to take (11:9). The staff called “Favor” or “Graciousness” is broken, as is the covenant made “with all the nations” (probably referring to the Jewish colonies scattered among many nations, as in Joel 2:6). So the merchants who provided Zechariah’s salary, and who doubtless wanted him to be gone, unwittingly accomplish God’s judicial will and buy off Zechariah with a final payment of thirty pieces of silver. These Zechariah is commanded to throw to the potter (a craftsman who worked with both clay and metal), presumably so that he could make a little figurine, a little godlet (11:12-13). Those who reject the good shepherd are left with idols—and disunity (12:14).
(3) In the closing lines (11:15-17) Zechariah acts out the only alternative to a good shepherd: a worthless shepherd.
How much did Jesus meditate on this chapter—the good shepherd rejected by so many of his people and dismissed for thirty pieces of silver?
The Lord Will Give Salvation
1 The oracle of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: 2 “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. 3 On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it. 4 On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. 5 Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the Lord of hosts, their God.’
6 “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves. And they shall devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples, while Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem.
7 “And the Lord will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah. 8 On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them. 9 And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Him Whom They Have Pierced
10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land shall mourn, each family[a] by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.
13 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
I Am the True Vine
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
The Hatred of the World
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,[c] but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
THE LAST THREE CHAPTERS OF Zechariah (chaps. 12—14) develop themes that appeared in chapters 9—11. But there is a rising intensity, signaled by the phrase “on that day,” repeated sixteen times. The climax is in the last chapter, where God’s universal kingdom is fully established.
Zechariah 12 is part of this rising intensity. The first part (12:1-9) is superficially easy to understand, but at one level its interpretation is difficult; the second part (12:10—13:1) is immensely evocative, and is cited in the New Testament.
(1) The first part pictures the formerly scattered exiles, now returned to Jerusalem, facing the onslaught of hostile nations. It appears that even Judah initially abandons Jerusalem: the NEB’s translation is probably right: “Judah will be caught up in the siege of Jerusalem.” Then the Lord intervenes and makes “Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling” (12:2). God confounds the cavalry charges (12:4), and the people of Judah take courage from the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites (12:5). As a result, the fact that they are among the enemy is turned to advantage: they are like fire that ignites dry tinder (12:6). The triumph is glorious (12:7-9).
So far, so good. But of what does this speak? The question cannot be answered without recourse to other Scriptures, to an entire way of putting the Bible together. Some think that this refers to empirical Jerusalem at some point in the future, with (presumably) suitable shifts from cavalry to something more modern. Others think this is an apocalyptic vision of final assaults on the people of God, on the citizens of the new Jerusalem. Does the next section shed light on the debate?
(2) The second section is in stunning contrast to the first. The house of David and the Jerusalemites have just been powerfully encouraged. Yet now God himself pours upon them a spirit of contrition (12:10), certainly not a spirit of triumphalism. They find themselves mourning for someone put to death in the city, and being cleansed from their sin and impurity by a new fountain “opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (13:1). Who is this person, pierced through, for whom the people mourn? The most natural reading of the Hebrew is that it is Yahweh himself: “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn” (12:10). At one level the “piercing” can be understood metaphorically: Yahweh is “wounded” in exactly the same way that he is cuckolded in Hosea. But there is a more literal fulfillment, a more literal piercing (John 19:34, 37). What is the good of a merely military triumph unless the people of God mourn for what they have done to God—and discover that he has opened a fountain to cleanse them from their sin (13:1)?
Idolatry Cut Off
2 “And on that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness. 3 And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the Lord.’ And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.
4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive, 5 but he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.’[a] 6 And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’[b] he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’
The Shepherd Struck
7 “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the Lord of hosts.
“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
I will turn my hand against the little ones.
8 In the whole land, declares the Lord,
two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
and one third shall be left alive.
9 And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy
16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
I Have Overcome the World
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.[a] 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
IN SOME WAYS ZECHARIAH 13:2-9 continues with the theme of leadership. But it has two parts, each with very distinctive emphases:
(1) In 13:2-6 God condemns the false shepherds—a common theme, of course (e.g., Jer. 23:9ff.; Ezek. 13; 34:1-10). Moreover, it fits the immediately preceding verses. There, we saw, a fountain is opened up for the cleansing of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in general, and for the house of David in particular. But if citizens and royalty alike are purified, so also must the religious leaders be purified. “On that day” (13:2), God declares, he will banish not only the idols but the false prophets from the land. So transformed will be the situation that the covenantal ideal will be in force (Deut. 13:6-11): if someone says “Thus says the Lord” when the Lord has not spoken, his closest family members will be the first to silence him. Those who in the past have been false prophets will be so ashamed of themselves that when they are challenged they will insist that they are farmers (13:4- 5). If there are “prophetic scars” on their bodies (doubtless from self-inflicted wounds tied to ecstatic paganism, as in 1 Kings 18:28) they will lie through their teeth and insist that the scars were the result of some brawl or other that went on “at the house of my friends” (13:6).
The point is that in the final arrangements of things, false teaching and false prophecy will be a thing of the past. Those with ears to hear should therefore abominate all such “prophecy” already, as a mark of attentiveness to the true word of the Lord.
(2) Some have wondered if the final three verses (13:7-9) have somehow been misplaced from the end of chapter 11, where Zechariah has devoted a lot of attention to shepherds. In fact, these verses would not have made much sense there but they are admirably suitable here. Chapter 11 ends with Zechariah representing the worthless shepherd who undergoes divine disapproval. But the shepherd in 13:7-9 is one God approves. The connections with the preceding two sections are easier to demonstrate. In 12:10—13:1, Yahweh himself is wounded, pierced through; and then false prophets are denounced (13:2-9). But there is still a need for the right shepherd. The right one is God’s shepherd, “my shepherd . . . the man who is close to me” (13:7). God commands the sword to strike him (reflect on Acts 4:27-28). Elsewhere, God himself is the shepherd, and so is his servant David (Ezek. 34); so here, God himself is pierced through, and so also is his shepherd. The first result is that the sheep scatter (13:7; see Mark 14:27; Matt. 26:31); the ultimate result is the purification and faithfulness of the people of God (13:9).
Praise God for the hope He brings to us in Christ. Thank Him for opening our eyes to see our sinfulness and for making a way for us to be right before Him. Especially in this Christmas season, pray for us to be bold to share the change God has made in our hearts and the eternal life He offers. Ask God to bring more people to a saving knowledge of Christ. Pray for the Spirit to enable our worship of God, allowing us to live joyfully in both hardship and comfort.
This week we are praying for our own Faith Family and partner organizations as they find ways to engage the lost, show hospitality, and exalt Christ during this Christmas season. Christmas offers a unique opportunity to witness to others while celebrating the true Gift of Christmas, the free gift of eternal life made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are also praying for Faith Presbyterian Church and Alan Carter, Pastor.
Day 1: Pray for each of us to seize the opportunities God gives us to discuss the meaning of Christmas, share our testimony, or share the gospel with loved ones, guests, internationals, and strangers this Christmas.
Day 2: Pray for members of our Faith Family who are hosting or attending Christmas outreach events. Pray for them to find creative ways to share the incredible story of our Savior’s birth and for many to put their trust in Him.
Day 3: Pray for members of our Faith Family who lead ministries serving low-income families during Christmas by providing meals, clothing, gifts, and fellowship. Pray for God to provide funds needed to accomplish these good works and to call out volunteers to come alongside.
Day 4: Pray for those who do not have family or friends to gather with at Christmas. Pray for our Faith Family to be compelled by love and would represent Christ well by welcoming those who are alone into their homes.
Day 5: Pray for Christ to be exalted in each of our families this Christmas. Pray for our worship and attention to be directed toward the Giver of all good things and not the gifts we exchange.
Day 6: Pray for our Christmas Eve Gatherings. Pray for many to trust in Jesus for their salvation and experience the joy He gives, the peace He brings, and the love He pours out for us.
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Shepherds why this jubilee
Why your joyous strains prolong
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song
Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King
See Him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels praise
Mary Joseph lend your aid
While our hearts in love we raise
God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy
He has come for us this Jesus
He's the hope for all mankind
He has come for us the Messiah
Born to give us life
(He is born to give us life)
From God our heav'nly Father
A blessed angel came
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name
All the angels sing hallelujah
Jesus Christ is born
All the children sing hallelujah
He is Christ the Lord
Angels sing hallelujah
Jesus Christ is Lord
All the children sing hallelujah
He is Christ the Lord
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
I find my strength I found my hope
I find my help in Christ alone
When fear assails when darkness falls
I found my peace in Christ alone
I give my life I give my all
I sing my song to Christ alone
The King of Kings the Lord of Lords
All heaven sings to Christ alone
To Christ alone
To Christ alone