The Pierced Firstborn Son
Mighty God, You are my Protector and Shield, my Redeemer and Friend. You are great, and greatly to be praised.
Read Zechariah 12:10-14
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“God was in Christ, and Christ died on a cross; that is the transforming factor …why the symbol of sadistic wickedness is now the magnet of mankind” (John N. Gladstone).
Without gospel hindsight, this prophecy is difficult to interpret. Prophecy often has an immediate meaning understood at the time, a fulfillment in the near future and a fulfillment in the distant future. So what did these words mean to Zechariah? A likely reading is that the anonymous victim was someone who challenged authority, someone who had been or would be silenced. We can’t know if such a someone existed in Zechariah’s time, but the line of victims does not end with the biblical record. Throughout history, countless anonymous victims attest to the risk of challenging the religious or politically powerful.
Zechariah envisages widespread remorse, naming those groups who will most acutely know their failure: the kings (“house of David”), the prophets (“house of Nathan”), the priests (“house of Levi”) and the Temple workers (“clan of Shimei”—see Num. 3:17-26). The old order under the old covenant had failed God. The leadership who should have known better rejected the guidance of God available through a priesthood who should, in turn, have more faithfully sought God’s presence in the tabernacle and Temple. The “kingdom of priests” (Exod. 19:6) had failed.
Jesus publicly challenged the religious establishment. Little wonder John (19:37) saw Zechariah’s words fulfilled in Jesus’ death and the soldier’s spear. In Revelation, John saw a future fulfillment when the world that killed Jesus would see his return (Rev. 1:7). The words “only” and “firstborn” have deep Christological significance in the New Testament. Anyone who knows the Old Testament will hear echoes of the firstborn Son of Zechariah’s prophecy, the pierced Son, crucified, risen and returning.
Reflect on these lyrics: “… all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood” (Isaac Watt, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross).
Yes, Lord, Your amazing love not just “demands my soul, my life, my all,” but it shall have it, too.
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