“The One They Have Pierced”
March 28, 2002
In communion, we mourn him even as we receive his cleansing.
I. Mourning the one who was pierced (Zechariah 12:10-13)
II. Trusting in the fountain that cleanses (Zechariah 13:1)
MessageZechariah 12:10-13:1 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, 13the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, 14and all the rest of the clans and their wives. 13:1"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
Background (what this means in Zechariah)
Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, we began looking at some prophecies in the book of Zechariah that find complete or partial fulfillment in the events of Christs passion. Today we want to continue that process, and the verses we just read seem especially well suited to Thursday of Easter Week, the moment where Christ, recognizing what is about to happen, encourages his disciples to establish a lasting remembrance of his death. We call that remembrance communion, or the Lords Supper, and today as we remember that first Lords Supper were going to try to exercise our minds and our hearts and get a sense of what Christ did - were going to keep his command by remembering what it means that his body was broken and his blood shed.
Zechariah is a challenging prophetic book in that most of the images used are symbolic and abstract. It has almost the same feel as Revelation. Many of those images look forward to either Christs first coming or His second coming. In fact, we saw on Sunday that the same passage can easily contain prophecies that relate to both these events. Thats true of these verses: though the actual fulfillment is most directly associated with Christs second coming, well be examining them for application to our own hearts.
Zechariah describes a widespread conviction and conversion and cleansing of the Jewish people, a turning to Christ that didnt occur when he first came to the Jewish nation in a.d. 30. Its true that on Palm Sunday he received the acclaim of the crowd, but by Thursday that crowd had aligned itself behind jealous and grasping priests and politicians who had resolved to kill him.
So during that week, and even in the months and years that followed the resurrection, there was no widespread turning of the Jewish people to Jesus. Some thousands became believers, but the majority rejected the good news, so that people like Paul more and more took the message to Gentiles. The church has been primarily Gentile ever since. But there is still a day coming when the Jews will turn in large numbers to the true Messiah. Paul himself foresaw that day: he wrote in Romans that a hardening had come upon Israel until the full number of Gentiles had been saved, and then all Israel too would be saved. Revelation pictures this turning of the Jewish people to Jesus, Jews from every tribe.
Zechariah pictures that same turning. Verse 10: I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. The spirit of grace and supplication is the Holy Spirit who graciously brings conviction so that men and women see that it is their sin that sent the Son of God to the cross. Verses 11 to 14 detail how this repentance will come individually so that people from the kingly line of the Jews - Davids descendant, and to those from the priestly line, Levi and his descendants will mourn the one they have pierced.
This mourning will be a great as the greatest mourning Zechariahs listeners could remember, the mourning at Hadad-Rimmon. This was probably a place name, in the plains of Megiddo where Judahs last hope before the exile, King Josiah was killed. Even Jeremiah the prophet wrote a lament for his loss. With even greater mourning the Jewish people sometime in our future will look back at what happened to Jesus. The mourning will be like that of a father after the death of his first-born or only son, which is exactly what God experienced when Jesus was crucified.
But even that mourning will not be the end of the story, for just as in his death and resurrection Jesus has cleansed from sin all the Gentiles throughout the centuries who have turned to him in trust, so also in that day the faith of these many Jewish believers will lead to their cleansing. Chapter 13, verse 1; its unfortunate that there is a chapter break because the thought is continuous with chapter 12. On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. The same cleansing fountain that make us righteous will make that generation of Jewish believers righteous. The blood of the one they pierced will be the blood that cleanses them from sin.
So this is a second coming or end times prophecy, of a great turning of the Jews to Jesus. But for the rest of our time I want to look at the application of this prophecy to our own lives. For just as they will look upon the one they have pierced and mourn, so we should look on the one we have pierced by our sin - that same Jesus and mourn. Just as they will receive cleansing in that day from the fountain that washes away sin, so we receive cleansing through the same blood that he shed once on the cross.
As we begin to apply these verses to ourselves, lets stop and sing a couple of hymns. I want us to do this not just with our heads, but with our hearts as well.
Mourning (comments on 12:10)
Zechariah 12:10 says And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. There is no better time than this Lords supper service to apply this truth to our own lives.
There are three significant parts to the experience described here. First, God pours out a spirit, or His Spirit, of grace and supplication. We desperately need the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we can feel the weight of our sins and so that we can know there is someplace to turn under that burden. It is the Holy Spirit at work in us who turns the classic verses like all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God to I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. He turns the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked to my heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. He gives us a recognition of our own sinfulness.
For most here this evening, this sense of sinfulness is remembered in the light of salvation. In other words weve found the answer to our sinful hearts and deeds - weve found Jesus. But there is still great value in remembering the sinfulness from which he rescued us. Paul does this often in his letters. Ephesians 2 says As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. This is the truth we need to recognize about ourselves if Gods answer to our problem is to be meaningful.
Second, we recognize that it was our sin that caused Jesus to die on the cross. The verse says They will look on me, the one they have pierced. Someone may have said to you at one time If you were the only sinner in the universe, Christs love would have compelled him to die on the cross for your sins alone. In a very real sense, he died for you, it was your sins that pierced him. That word is used several times in describing what happened to Christ. Isaiah 53: He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. And in the Gospel of John we learn that when all the other horrors of the crucifixion were completed, he was pierced with a spear, so that the soldiers could be sure that he was dead. Zechariah tells us it wasnt the soldiers who pierced him, it was us.
One of the classic expressions of this is a song called The Hammer by Ray Boltz:
I was in the crowd the day that Jesus died
And as He hung upon that cross His mother cried
I saw the crown of thorns He wore; The stripes on His back
The water and the blood ran out; And then the sky turned black
My mind was filled with anger; My heart filled with shame
This man brought only healing; Well who could bring Him pain
Why does it seem the strong; They always victimize the weak
And suddenly I found myself; Standing to my feet And I cried;
Who nailed Him there; This Child of peace and mercy?
Who nailed Him there; Come and face me like a man?
Who nailed Him there? And the crowd began to mock me.
I cried Oh my God I just dont understand;
Then I turned and saw the hammer In my hand!
I nailed Him there; This Child of peace and mercy.
I nailed Him there; I am the guilty man.
I nailed Him there; With my sins and my transgressions.
I cried Oh my God now I understand;
When I turned and saw that hammer...In my hand!
This verse in Zechariah is reminding us of our sin, its reminding us that our sin was the reason Jesus died on that cross, and finally it is calling us to mourn. What does that mean? Well, the comparison given is to the mourning that someone would do if they lost their firstborn or only child. It has often been said that the loss of a child is the most devastating kind of grief anyone ever endures. Im thankful that in our body weve not had that in the nearly ten years weve existed. But weve been connected with other believers who have lost children, and even the second-hand pain of that is hard to bear. This verse is calling us feel loss and emptiness when we look at the cross just as we do when we look into the faces of those parents.
Were going to move toward communion now, and toward the sharing of the bread which represents his body broken for us. What Id like you to do, in the next several moments, is to ask Gods Holy Spirit to give you the thoughts and feelings appropriate to seeing Jesus broken on the cross. Im not asking you to manufacture any feelings, but simply to participate in the music, listen to and read the verses in your bulletin and then write a brief reflection on these truths: a prayer addressed to God or a journal entry addressed to your own soul. There is space in your bulletin for this writing. So sing, listen, and then write.
Verses for Meditation
Zech. 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. [NIV]
Isaiah 53:3-6 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Psalm 22:16-18 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. 17I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 18They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
John 19:31-37 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," 37and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced." [NIV]
1 Peter 2:22-24 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
1 John 4:9-10 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Revelation 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
Cleansing (comments on 13:1)
Weve looked at Christ on the cross and remembered truth that it was our sin that placed him there and caused him to suffer. But we recognize that there is more to it. He suffered for a reason and his suffering was not without effect. His suffering paid the price of our sin so that weve been forgiven our sins and set free from sins penalty.
Zechariah 13:1 says this so beautifully: On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. The prophets are always talking about that day. Sometimes it is a day of judgment or blessing in the prophets own immediate future. Often it is the final day of the Lord, the day when unbelievers are judged and believers are blessed and Jesus comes back to reign. Occasionally, as here, one of the days of Jesus first advent is in mind. This, that day is the day his body was broken on the cross, the day his blood was shed on the cross. It is the day he anticipated when he transformed the Passover celebration, making it the Lords Supper.
Zechariah tells us that on that day a fountain will be opened. A fountain in Scripture is a twin symbol - it symbolizes abundant life and it symbolizes cleansing. In the dry climate of the Middle East a fountain is always a marvelous thing, for only around a source of water can life really flourish. In one of the most recent That the World May Know videos Ray Vanderlaan took this group of students to a little hidden valley that was just teeming with green growing life, because it had a large pool of water fed by a cascade from the surrounding hills. Thats a picture of the spiritual abundance we are offered in Christ, as a result of Christs sacrifice.
Even more than abundance, this fountain in Zechariah symbolizes cleansing. The NIV says a fountain will be opened to cleanse from sin and impurity. The word cleanse doesnt actually appear in the Hebrew, but the NIV translators did it right, because thats exactly the role of a fountain for sin and impurity. It cleanses.
The Bible, from cover to cover, sees mankind, individual men and women, as stained by sin and needing to be cleansed. The opening chapter of Isaiah says Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. David, in his great prayer of confession, Psalm 51, cries out over and over again Cleanse me! Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. The human heart needs cleansing from sin before it can be in fellowship with God, before it can enjoy the abundant life of a relationship with God.
But how can this fountain cleanse? Paradoxically, it can only do it because it is a fountain of blood. It is the shed blood of a sacrifice that cleanses from sin - the blood of Christ shed on the cross. We learned this in Hebrews 9: The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death John teaches that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This is the glorious counterpart to the recognition that our sin sent Christ to the cross. It did, but then his shed blood cleansed us from sin. Communion is not simply an act of remorse, mourning the tragic outcome of our sins. It is also a joyous recognition that because of his sacrifice there is forgiveness, full, complete and free. The fountain that flowed from his veins is an inexhaustible supply of abundance and cleansing. It is a river of life for all those who thirst, and a fountain of joy in a dry and weary land. The Lords supper is a celebration: Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast. The celebration of his love.
Just as our mourning for sin is not the last word, but his abundant victory over sin is the last word, so also the Lords Supper is not the last word of Easter week. Friday is not the last word of Easter week. Sundays coming. There is victory won by this sacrifice and an unquenchable fountain of life opened out of this death. So lets take a few minutes, and listen to what Christ has done for us through his blood, and reflect, meditate, and apply the truth of our cleansing to our own lives. Write a prayer to God or a letter to your own soul giving praise and thanks for this fountain. Then we will share the cup of communion.
Verses for Meditation
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Psalm 51:1-2 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:7-9 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Jeremiah 33:6-9 " 'Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. 7I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. 8I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. 9Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'
Joel 3:18 "In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord's house and will water the valley of acacias.
Zech. 13:1 "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
Hebrews 9:13-14 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
1 John 1:6-9 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Rev. 7:9-14 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
13Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" 14I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.