Excerpt from a recent sermon on Zechariah 11:4-17. Might be helpful to read the passage along with!
Looking at this passage 2000 years after the good news of Calvary, I can understand John Calvin’s comment from this chapter – he said that Zechariah was making clear the stupidity of Israel. Bold words, particularly with the connotation we give them today. But think about it – they were home! The exile was over, and they were free to worship God as he commanded!
And they rejected him… again.
As I was thinking about Calvin’s comment. It hit me and it broke me. Hindsight is 20/20. We get to hold all 66 books in our hands. We have the writings of 2000 years of Christianity’s brightest to lead and guide us… not to mention the foundation of it all – the God-breathed, Holy Spirit stamped New Testament of Christ that teaches, interprets, breaks down and builds up everything about the Old Testament.
Shame on us if we can’t at least get to the gospel with what we’ve been given.
But back in the day? I spent this week thankful that I live now and not then. Because if I lived then, I’d’ve been in the thick of the worst decisions ever made. I have my moments – moments where in my arrogance I think I might’ve withstood the temptation in the garden. I mean, come on! It’s a piece of fruit. I don’t even really like Middle Eastern fruit! I think humanity might have been fine if God chose me for the garden. Adam you fool.
I have my moments – moments where in my arrogance I think I might’ve been able to hold out from complaining in the wilderness. I mean, come on! Red sea parted? Magical sweet bread from heaven every morning? It’s like having Lucky Charms, magically delicious, appearing from the sky EVERY DAY. Quail that just wander in to be eaten? Water pouring out of a rock? Seeing the pillar of cloud, the pillar of fire? Hearing that booming glorious thunder of God’s voice? I long to see things like that. I think Israel’s fate might have been fine if God chose me to walk there. Israel you fools!
I have my moments – moments where in my arrogance I think I would’ve been grateful to come out of the exile. I mean, come on! NO more Babylon? Freedom to worship? All those prophetic promises finally about to come true? I can read the promises. I think Israel’s future might have been a little more secure if God chose to bring me out of exile with the people. Israel you fools!
I have my moments – moments where in my arrogance I think I would’ve stood by Jesus as he was led to the slaughter. I mean, come on! All those miracles? Teachings? Mercy and compassion? That wisdom? Over 300 prophecies fulfilled? I love Jesus with all my heart! I think he would’ve had one friend at Calvary if God had chosen me to be one of the twelve. Foolish disciples.
I thought about Calvin’s words this week, and I was reminded of just how stupid I am.
If I was in the garden, we might have fallen faster.
If I was in the wilderness, another generation might have perished.
If I came out of the exile, Zechariah might have quit sooner, or maybe annihilated me.
And if I were one of the twelve… at best I might’ve been one of those who just ran way.
I might’ve been the one who denied him three times.
Maybe I would’ve been the one who sold the Savior of the world for the price of a slave.
Who knows? Maybe I would’ve been among those who beat him.
Spit on him.
Maybe I would have called for his crucifixion.
Maybe I would have held the nails. Or swung the hammer.
Or pierced his side with a spear.
Maybe I would have mocked him from the next cross over.
Maybe I would have been trading his clothes while he died a sinner’s death on behalf of those who stood among his enemies.
Instead, I sit here – 2000 years later, with every bit of evidence pointing to this Jesus as the Savior of my soul. The Redeemer of my wicked heart. Shame on me for thinking my heart is any better suited to the task than any of those who rejected God before. Our sin puts us all in the same big pair of shoes. Truth be told, we are all guilty in the rejection of God. Romans 1 reminds us of that. Apart from the precious grace of God, our fate is no different from that of the vilest offender in the passion of our Christ.
Jesus was delivered up for our transgression. He bore our sin on the tree. Every mockery, every insult, as his body was marred beyond human semblance, every blow upon him was the chastisement for my sin that brought me peace. If I claim the peace won upon the old rugged cross, I must also claim the iniquity that was laid on him there.
I praise God that sinful rejection is not the end of the story. Instead, the rejection of Christ is the beginning of life everlasting for those who take hold of his work by grace through faith. We stand clean before a holy God because the blood of Christ washes us. His disciples were restored. Mockers were made saints. Enemies became adopted sons and daughters, ready to withstand their own rejection in the hands of sinners.
As we mourn the death of the one we pierced, we are made new, born again of the Spirit of God into eternal life. We grow in holiness not by looking within, but by pressing into the victory that was won on our behalf at Calvary.
We take greater and greater enjoyment in Christ, not by moving beyond the cross into sanctification, but by returning to the cross by confession and repentance every day of our sinful lives until Jesus returns or calls us home. We look like him because we draw near to him.
We draw near him because He is the Good Shepherd of God’s sheep.
He is the Good Shepherd who endured rejection by the sheep for the sheep.
He is the Good Shepherd who is everyday expanding the fold of God through the gift of life.
He is the Good Shepherd who enables us to endure rejection because he has been rejected.