Part Two: The First Advent of the Messiah (Zechariah 9:9; 11:1-14)
The chronological progression through the ministry of the Person of Jesus Christ brings us to the core of His first coming. Entering Jerusalem on what is now known as Palm Sunday depicts Messiah’s Triumph. His cross-work the following week depicts Messiah’s Trial. The triumph and trial of Messiah are both predicted in the good and comforting words of the prophet Zechariah 520 years before His coming.
Messiah’s Triumph: “Your King Is Coming … Having Salvation” (9.9)
The prophecy recorded in this single verse was fulfilled during the triumphal entry of Christ (see Matthew 21.5; John 12.15). Zechariah writes, “…Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (9.9). There are three things that we learn about the King, Jesus Christ, in this passage.
(1) He is the just King. YHWH testifies in Isaiah that “…there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me (45.21).” The song of the Lamb resounds, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints” (Revelation 15.3). A just reign would require a price for such a rebellious group of subjects, whether they are Jew or Gentile. Justice was satisfied in the crucifixion of the King of the Jews and the King of the Saints.
(2) He is the saving King. He stood in our place. This is why the rocks would cry out if Israel failed to adore their King with “Hosanna!” Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the lost and undone of the world.
(3) He is the lowly King. Riding upon a donkey during His first coming, He came to suffer degradation and humiliation for our sakes. There is a coming day when He will return on a white horse. He is called “Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war” (Revelation 19.11).
Messiah’s Trial: “They Weighed Out for My Wages Thirty Pieces of Silver” (11.1-14)
Here we see the result of Israel’s rejection of the Great King. It would lead to their utter destruction (11.1-3). “Their glory is in ruins” (3). The destruction is complete leaving only desolation in its wake. Zechariah now records the yet future rejection in the words of YHWH (11.4-14). There are eight characterizations of this rejection that follow in the text.
The first three are reinforced with the Shepherd motif. The King is to feed a flock that would reject Him; a flock for slaughter (4, 7; cp. w/ Matthew 11.1-6). He would save a minority of the flock – the poor and diseased. The King would feed a flock that was taken advantage of by their own shepherds (5). Jesus said of these shepherds, “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23.4). The King is to feed a flock abandoned by men and God (6). I believe this verse depicts the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
The fourth characteristic depicts two staffs: Beauty and Bonds (7; cp. w/ Psalm 23.4). It actually brings continuity to the Shepherd motif. Beauty speaks of the grace of the Lord in tending the flock. It is a staff that comforts. Bonds speaks of the binding that brought unity to the Kingdom which had been fractured.
The fifth characteristic is a dismissal of three shepherds in a month (8). YHWH loathes them as they abhor Him. These may be Jewish leaders rejected by God because they crucified their King. A sixth characteristic seems to be a result of the fifth. The terrible famine described may be paralleled with one Josephus wrote about during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Verses 12-13 are fulfilled as recorded in Matthew 27.3-10. Both Unger and Baron take on alleged discrepancies between the two accounts of Zechariah and Matthew. Quite obviously, this refers to the betrayal of Judas.
Finally, the eighth characteristic shows Messiah breaking His staff named Bonds (reinforcing the interpretation above). He does so as a result of Israel’s rejection. He removes any bond that might reconcile the kingdom until He comes to do so Himself.