“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the LORD of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." Zechariah 7:7
Zechariah is one of the prophets I struggle to understand so when I come to passages like this I am thankful. Zechariah 12:10 describes the spirit of grace and the desire for mercy that Christ Jesus will pour out on those who killed Him. Realizing what they have done, they mourn as if having lost the firstborn son. Chapter thirteen verse one says the day He is pierced a fountain will open to cleanse those who mourn their sin and uncleanness. Verse seven tells us the One who struck this shepherd is the LORD of hosts. Doesn't that sound just like Peter's first sermon, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost?
In Acts 2:22-23 Peter spoke to the crowd which gathered when they heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind as the Holy Spirit filled the 120 in the upper room. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." Peter tells the people "you crucified and killed" Jesus but it was according to the plan and foreknowledge of God. When Peter finished speaking, those who realized Jesus was the Christ cried out "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." He is the fountain in Zephaniah 13:1 that will cleanse them of their sin and uncleanness! Isn't that what Zechariah 12 and 13 prophesied?
Zechariah 13:7 addresses the plan and foreknowledge of God in the death of Jesus and the result. The LORD of hosts, speaking as if the "sword" were a person, instructs it to strike "my shepherd, the man who stands next to me." The definition of the Hebrew word "who stands next to me" is one in a close relationship. Since we have the NT, we know this close relationship was Father and Son. Even though it was the Jewish leaders who instigated the Roman soldier’s crucifixion of Jesus, it was the Father's plan and purpose.
When the Shepherd is struck, the sheep will scatter. Just as Jesus told the disciples in John 16:32, "Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me." In Matthew 26:31-32 He is more explicit, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Quoting Zechariah 13:7 Jesus tells His eleven disciples what will happen that night. The phrase "I will go before you" is descriptive of how a shepherd leads his sheep. In John 10:4, Jesus described Himself as the Shepherd saying, "When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice." Hebrews 13:20 describes the Lord Jesus as the "great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant." 1 Peter 5:4 displays Jesus as "When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."
Those who mourn when they come to understand Jesus as the One pierced, who hear Jesus' voice and follow Him, will receive an unfading crown of glory. But Zechariah 13:9 describes a time of trial and testing before that occurs. The remnant, the third in verse nine, are placed into the fire and refined as silver, tested like gold. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
LORD of hosts, how could You love the sinful, rebellious world so much to formulate and execute a plan which leads to the death of Your Son for sinners like me? Thank You. Lord Jesus Christ, how could You humble Yourself to dwell among sinners like me knowing the cost? Thank You. Holy Spirit, please always remind me of what the Great Shepherd has done so that I may be His. Teach me to hear only His voice and follow closely as my faith in Him is tested by the fiery trials of this world.