12 December 2012Zechariah 9:9-12
"Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey." (v. 9)
Like other Old Testament prophets, Zechariah was also a priest. He was born in exile in Babylon but later returned to Judah.
His book can be divided into two parts - the first (chapters 1-8) is a series of prophetic visions which deal with the restoration of Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the temple, the purification of the God's chosen people and the messianic age to come; the second (chapters 9-14) are a collection of messages about the expected Messiah and the final judgement.
Today's passage comes from the second part. It may seem familiar as it is quoted in Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 21:4-5) with reference to Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
The Messiah arrives on a donkey. Whilst this initially seems a strange choice (especially with the contrast of the war horse in verse 10), a donkey was a princely mount (2 Samuel 16:2) before the horse came into common use. The donkey takes nothing away from the joy and triumph, as Zechariah states this explicitly in verse 9 - being "triumphant and victorious" is no contradiction to humility.
As if to stress the point the passage continues (in verse 10) with examples of the extent of the triumph and what the victory entails. And verses 11 and 12 give emphasis to the sense of restoration, peace and hope.
What a change and what a contrast, and it happens because of the coming of the Messiah. And what rejoicing, too.
- Verse 9 is used in Matthew's Gospel. How does your reading of the Old Testament give you a deeper insight into the Gospels?
- The Messiah (Jesus) was a combination of strength and humility, triumph and peace. How might you follow that example?
- "I will restore to you double" (v. 12). What would you react if someone said that to you? And what might it mean to you?