As we saw while introducing the book of Zechariah, the prophecy is structured quite neatly. The first six chapters contain eight visions. Chapters 7–8 contain two sermons. Chapters 9–14 contain two oracles. The first of those oracles is in recorded chapters 9–11 while the second is found in chapters 12–14. Each of the oracles is focused intensely on the person and work of Christ. In fact, these closing chapters of Zechariah are quoted more than any other Old Testament book in the passion narratives in the Gospels. Wiersbe observes:
These six chapters comprise one of the greatest concentrations of messianic truth found anywhere in Scripture…. Zechariah reveals Messiah as the humble King, the loving Shepherd, the mighty Warrior, the gracious Savior, and the righteous Ruler who will reign on earth as King and Priest. Bible students may not agree on the interpretation of each detail of these complex prophecies, but they do agree on the greatness of the Christ whose character and ministry are so vividly portrayed here.
While we cannot possibly look in any great detail at these oracles, it is interesting to note that they follow a similar trajectory. Each oracle begins with a promise of judgement on the enemies of God’s people (9:1–8; 12:1–9). Each then points to the Messiah to come (9:9–17; 12:10–14). Each then highlights the restoration or cleansing of God’s people (10:1–12; 13:1–9). Finally, each turns to the source of this restoration and cleansing: Messiah’s work (11:1–17; 14:1–21). The key difference between the two oracles lies in the emphasis of the closing section. The first oracle emphasises Messiah rejected; the second emphasises Messiah ruling.
The first oracle contains a couple of prophecies of Christ.
First, the oracle prophesies the triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the passion week (9:9–10). This was the peak of Jesus’ popularity on earth. People lined the streets, rejoicing greatly and shouting triumphantly as their King rode into the city, righteous and victorious, on a colt, on the foal of a donkey. They shouted “Hosanna!” as they exulted in the one who had come to proclaim peace to the nations and who would extend his dominion from sea to sea. But that is not how the oracle ends.
Second, the oracle prophesies Christ’s betrayal and rejection as he was sold to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver (11:12–13). The Messiah whom the people praised as he rode into Jerusalem would soon be pierced. He would be rejected as the people called for the release of a murderer as he was crucified at Calvary. And yet it would be by this very act of betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion that he would secure the eternal peace that God had for so long promised.
Reflecting on Christ’s rejection should help us in at least two ways.
First, if we understand that Christ was rejected by the world, it should not surprise us when we are rejected by the world. And yet we should remember that, when the world reject us, it actually rejects him. Jesus said as much: “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16). The world was no friend of Jesus during his incarnation and it is no friend of Jesus today. In first-century Palestine, the world rejected Jesus by crucifying him. Today, the world rejects Jesus by rejecting his people. When the world rejects us because of our faith, we are in good company. We are in Christ’s company.
Second, if we understand that Christ was rejected by the world, we understand that we can be accepted by God. The glory of the gospel is that we are accepted by the very act in which Jesus was rejected. He secured peace for his people by submitting to the most violent act imaginable. He was rejected by the world and, for a moment, by his Father so that we can be eternally accepted by him. His rejection secured our salvation and it secures our worship. He was rejected by men but chosen by God in order to build his church as a spiritual house and enable it to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4–5). If he had not been rejected, worship would be impossible.
As you meditate on Zechariah 9–11 this morning, ask God to impress on you the magnitude of Christ’s rejection. Ask him to help you appreciate that, because Christ was rejected, he will accept you and your worship even as the world rejects you.