Looking At Jesus
. . . they will look on Me whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10).
The return from exile, prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10) was a glorious and wonderful occasion for the Jews (Psa. 126:1-3), but it also vividly reminded God’s covenant people of their folly and its consequences. They had gone after false gods and Yahweh repeatedly warned them of his displeasure and judgment (Mic. 1:1-7, Nahum 1:2-3). But then Yahweh raised up another prophet, Zechariah, who preached to the post-exilic community around 526 B.C. They were in great duress. The temple and wall around the city had been destroyed. The wealth had largely been confiscated by the Babylonians. The best of the people had been taken away from Judah, and the prospect of progress in the covenant of grace was not positive. It is within this context, however, that Yahweh promised those whom he calls the ‘apple of His eye’ (Zech. 2:8) a far better day. He says that the nations will stream into the city (Zech. 1:17; 2:11), that he will remove their iniquity in one day (Zech. 3:9), that the great mountain of the Medo-Persians would be brought low, not by military or geo-political might, but by the Holy Spirit (Zech. 4:6-7), that the Branch would branch out from Jerusalem and build the house of the Lord (Zech. 6:12). Now Yahweh says that he will make those who are feeble to be strong like King David (Zech. 12:8). Old Testament prophecy typically has a more immediate fulfilment (giving the people of the day a sense of hope), but it often has at least two other more distant fulfilments, both tied to Christ’s two advents – the first, his incarnation, bringing reconciliation; and the second, his return in glory, bringing the consummation of the ages. So in the distant future, as far as the people of 6th century B.C. Jerusalem were concerned, those who had pierced the Son of God, those who had crucified him, would also look upon him to be saved. So it seems that some who were there when Christ was nailed to the cross, who said, ‘Crucify Him, Crucify Him,’ were there, fifty days later at Pentecost, believing in him and worshipping him.
The world around us is in great duress. President Obama is systematically, with the help of a weak, impotent Congress, robbing us of our religious freedoms; driving a wedge between the rich and poor, black and white; stripping our military of its power; abandoning Israel for nuclear destruction at the hands of the Iranians; killing whatever dignity is left of the disenfranchised by convincing them that the government is their saviour; ensuring that our children will be saddled with huge debt which will surely require the devaluation of the dollar and consequently their wealth; and redefining the family through same sex marriage.
What are we to do? We are to look at the One whom we have pierced. After all, your sins and mine put Jesus on the cross (Col. 1:21-23; 2:13-14). You are to focus on Jesus. It is easy, however, to lose your focus, isn’t it? This is true of you as an individual and you with your family. It is also true of your church as a whole. Perhaps God wrought the miracle of grace in you as a child or teen, and you were zealous for a few years. You wanted to be at church Sunday morning and evening. You could not get enough of the Word of God in reading, studying, and preaching. You also loved to speak of your new faith to anyone who would listen. But then you started working, got married, had a few children, got involved in their myriad of activities. Then they got married and had your grandchildren, and you became involved in their activities as well. And then you had enough money and time to make some really nice trips in your older years. Nothing wrong with any of these things, but the good can easily become the enemy of the best. So perhaps now you lack zeal, power, and authority. You are saved but Jesus is really not an issue for your friends and work associates. They know you to be nice and caring but perhaps you have not made Jesus a serious topic of conservation with them. It may also be that you have retreated to your Christian bubble and are extremely uncomfortable around people who are different from you – race; culture; theological, sociological or political perspective; or lifestyle. And then churches can also lose their focus. Instead of majoring on the primary issue of salvation through Christ alone, through faith alone, for the glory of God alone, you may actually spend your time driving a wedge between believers with secondary or tertiary issues like infant or believers’ baptism, traditional or contemporary worship, where you live and what kind of car you drive, where your children ought to go to school, infralapsarianism versus supralapsarianism. I am not saying these issues are not important. They certainly are, but they are not primary.
So, if you are to relieve the duress in the world, in the church, in your own personal family, then what must you do? You must look at Jesus. And who is he? Ah, my friends, he is the sceptre which will not depart from Judah, he is the I AM, he is a prophet like Moses, he is the sweet rose of Sharon, he is the lily of the valley, he is Immanuel, he is Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, he is the root of David, the rod of Jesse, he is the Branch, he is the Pierced One, he is the Son of God and the Son of Man, he is the manna that has come down out of heaven, he is the light of the world, the great Shepherd of the Sheep, he is the open door, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, and the life, he is the vine, he is the redeemer, the reconciler, the expiator, the propitiator, the justifier, he is the image of the invisible God, he is the head of the church, he is the first born from the dead, he is the faithful witness, the ruler of the kings of the earth, he is the One who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood, he is the Alpha and the Omega, he is the morning star, he is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Look, my friends, at Jesus. And when you have gazed into the eyes of our matchless Saviour, then go forth from your homes and lift him up, because he promises to draw the nations to himself when he is lifted up (John 12:32).
A number of years ago, when I had a ministry with HIV positive, homosexual men, I met Robert, a forty-five year old homosexual who was dying from AIDS. I picked him up on Wednesday nights at the hospice centre, helping him into my car as I took hold of his walker. One week before he died, I was visiting him and asked how he felt. While weeping he said, ‘I am afraid to die.’ I said, ‘Do you mind if I tell you about what happens to those who die as followers of Jesus?’ I then told him of the glory of being in the presence of Christ at death, of seeing the glorified Christ, of knowing joy and peace beyond comprehension, of being part of the general assembly in heaven where perpetual praise is given to the great lover of our souls. I then told him of the marvellous hope, at Christ’s second coming, of receiving glorified bodies which are free forever from disease and death. I told him that even at that late hour, Jesus could still save him if he turned from his sin and believed on Jesus. I have strong hope that Robert came to faith. He died one week after our conversation.
My friends, look at Jesus. Gaze at his wonderful face. Spend time thinking on who he is, what he did, what he now is doing through his work of intercession, and what he will do in the future as he comes to judge the world and establish the new heaven and the new earth. And then lift him up. Tell others about the mighty works of our redeemer, propitiator, expiator, and justifier. What would happen if all Jesus’ blood-bought people looked intently into his face and then went forth with Jesus in their eyes, on their faces, on their lips? Would we not see Jesus as the major issue in our communities? Some would love it. Others would hate it, but at least Jesus would have his due, that all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. He planted (2003) and served as Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 2011. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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