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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Zechariah 13

Verses 1-9

The Incentives to Worship (For Ascensiontide)

Zechariah 13:6

The Prophet is anticipating the first Ascension Day, the day the Church observed last Thursday; a day which, for the importance of the event it commemorates, ranks with Christmas and with Easter. He is looking on to the first Ascension Day. Think what the picture is that floats up before him: The Passion is over; the Cross is ended; the forty days after the Resurrection are completed; and, at last, the great and final day has come, and from the mountain's summit the conquering Saviour is preparing to return to His Throne. The battlements of heaven are lined with the angel hosts ready to do Him welcome. The golden gates of heaven have swung back to receive Him, and from out those gates runs the chorus of the heavenly choir, 'Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in'. And as they watch and wait, the question passes along those angel ranks: In what shape, in what appearance will He come? Will He come as they saw Him leave His Throne before He took human flesh, or will He come as they saw Him last when they spread their wings around the Cross? How will He come? And as they ask, He enters in at the open door, and they see at once that He comes not as He went, for in His hands and feet and side are the wound-marks of His suffering. The question runs through the astonished angel host,' What are these wounds in Thy hands?' And He answers in the tones that are so familiar on earth and in heaven, 'The wounds with which I was bruised in the house of My friends'.

I. What does the vision of the Prophet say to us Today? It tells us of the eternal measurements of sin; it tells us of the eternal assurances of love; it tells us of the eternal measurements of prayer; but does it not tell us something else? Surely it tells us, and in moving, pathetic tones of its own, the eternal incentives to worship. You and I are slow to worship God. You and I are apt to be careless and neglectful of the worship of God. I cannot think of any picture in the Bible which will come to us with more force than this, 'What are those wounds in Thy hands? ''Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends.' For see what the vision has to do with worship. What is the ground, the real ground, upon which all worship rests? Surely it is belief in a living Christ. You do not worship a dead Christ upon the Cross, you worship a living Christ upon the Throne. God forbid that you and I should ever lose sight of the picture of the Christ upon His Cross; but if we are to worship God with all earnestness, with all reverence, with the devotion of all the best powers that we have, it is not a Christ upon the Cross that we must look to, it is a living Christ upon the Throne: 'I am He that liveth eternally'. You hear Christ say those words, and there is only one thing for you and me to do: to fall down and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever.

II. And what is the motive power of worship? Is it not just gratitude for mercies received? I cannot think of any more beautiful description of worship than that which the Psalmist gives us: 'I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications '. But directly he says, 'I love the Lord,' what does he go on to say in response to that love? He goes on to declare his intention to worship: 'I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now, in the presence of all His people.' What makes the neglect of God's worship so terrible Today is that it reveals the want of grateful hearts. There cannot be a man or woman living on God's earth who is able to say, 'I love the Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplication,' who must not perforce go on to say, 'What can I render to the Lord? This, at any rate, I can render, poor sinner though I am, "I will take the cup of salvation... I will pay my vows unto the Lord ". I will worship the God to whom I owe my all.'

III. And, last of all, what is the characteristic of worship? Where does it find its noblest feature? Is it not in this: Not in what I receive, but what I give? The very motto of all true worship is this:

'It is more blessed to give than to receive'. What is the true, the highest feature of worship? I tell you it is the consecration of the best of everything to God. It is the dedication of every human power, of every human talent, of every human faculty.

What Are These Wounds in Thine Hands?'

Zechariah 13:6

I. When our Lord appeared to His disciples after the Resurrection, He showed them His hands and His side. By this time He was on the other side of death. From the Resurrection to the Ascension was a short step compared to that between Good Friday and Easter. That step had been taken, and He was revealed as the Conqueror. Henceforth the note of power the power of His Resurrection rings loudly through the New Testament. The strength that God set at work in Christ when He raised Him from the dead is the theme of believers from now to the end of time. But that strength was the power of victorious and accepted sorrow. He carried through the grave the strong and full and everlasting indications of His sorrow. His wounds were no more burning, but their record remained, and will remain, in the scars that are the seal of victory.

II. He came through the grave with the life whole in Him. It is not enough to say that after the Cross, the suffering, the blood, the patience, there came the life and power. The life and power were there through all the endurance, though they blazed forth in their glory at the Resurrection. So Good Friday and Easter are not so far apart as they seem. He carried Good Friday into Easter, and there was Easter in Good Friday. He showed them His hands and His side. It was as much as to say to them, 'In this new land, where all is peace and triumph, you are safe with Me. These wounds are fountains of grace, the titles of My glory, and the seals of My power to save. For you the rains will descend a little while, and the winds beat, but I have not forgotten the storm that burst on Me.'

III. In heaven, where He and His redeemed are together, and at rest for ever, He appears to them as a Lamb as it had been slain. They, His people, have the marks of wounds. They have come up out of the great tribulation of earthly life. The angels have never known a wound, but He is a Lamb as it had been slain. Nothing has dishonoured Him or shamed Him. It is not of the suffering that impoverishes, but of the suffering that enriches that He bears the traces. It is the power and the witness of victorious and availing sorrow that are His through the eternal years. He has offered up one sacrifice for sins for ever, and the memory of that sacrifice is green, and its tokens are never out of the eyes of those it has brought home to God.

W. Robertson Nicoll, The Garden of Nuts, p. 133.

References. XIII. 6. W. C. E. Newbolt, Counsels of Faith and Practice, p. 264. C. H. Wright, The Unrecognized Christ, p. 112. C. G. Clark-Hunt, The Refuge of the Sacred Wounds, p. 25. J. I. Blackburn, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 302. R. Mackintosh, ibid. vol. lxviii. 1905, p. 147.

Purification

Zechariah 13:9

Consider the purpose of God in asking His children to live with Him the life of contrition. God is seeking our personal purification. The great work God is doing within us is the separating of the pure from the impure.

I. Life is a purgatory, and is intended to be purgatorial. God's penances here are not punitive, but remedial. Our sorrows form the mystic fire in which God wills to separate between us and our sin. Why does character sometimes determinate under God's discipline of life? Because the suffering is not looked upon in its true light nor submitted to in a true spirit.

II. If there had been no sin, there would have been no intermediate state, and hence it follows that it is a penitential discipline, for the purifying of the spirit The vision of Jesus seen by us coming out of the sinful past, and carrying into His presence a marred nature, how can that vision be anything but one that develops contrition even to the limit of perfection?

The intermediate state is a state of joy, because it is a state of purgation.

III. Sweet communion. You could not bear the purification but for this 'They shall call upon Me, and I will answer'.

George Body, The Sermon Year Book, 1891, p. 357.

Reference. XIV. 6, 7. W. M. Taylor, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 287.

Zechariah 13:9

A favourite text of Charles Wesley.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Zechariah 13". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/zechariah-13.html. 1910.