Look at the One Who Was Pierced
A sermon based on Zechariah 12:10-11
Sunday, March 22, 2015 – Lent 5B
The dude was pierced all over. His ears had big hoops in the lobes. Bars went through the top of his ears. He had studs in his eyebrows, rings through his lip and in his nose. Even his chest was pierced with chains dangling from the piercings. He should have put a shirt on. The guy looked weird. I didn't want to be rude, but it was hard to look away. It was hard not to look at the guy who was pierced.
This morning, God, through the prophet Zechariah, tells us that we're not being rude when we look at the one who was pierced. Of course, he's not talking about a skateboarder in the park, or the gal at the tattoo parlor, but about his own Son—his only Son. We are encouraged to look at the one who was pierced. We're encouraged to look to the one who was pierced for us.
Our text for this morning is again from the Holy Week Prophet, Zechariah, and is recorded for us in chapter 12, verses 10 and 11…
10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
I. Look On the One Who You Pierced
Look at him. Look at him hanging there. Blood dripping down from his head where the thorns pierce his brow. Blood dripping down from his hands, where the nails pierced him through. Blood dripping down from his feet where the piercing nails protrude. Blood pouring down from his side where the spear pierced him open.
This is one of the most direct prophecies of Zechariah where God himself says, "They will look on me, the one they have pierced…" It was God himself dying on the cross in the person of Jesus. The apostle John shows us the direct fulfillment of this passage: 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water… 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: …."They will look on the one they have pierced." (John 16:33-34, 36-37)
It's hard to look away, isn't it? There is he hanging on the cross, pierced in his brow, in his hands, in his feet, in his side.
But why was he there? Why was he pierced? Why was the sinless Son of God turned into a bloody mess that fateful day? Well, in short, because of you… because of me.
You see, we too often grieve the loss of some trinket. We weep when we lose some comfort. We mourn the loss of some material wealth, while failing to grieve over our sin. We are so self-absorbed that we too often fail to look at the one who was pierced and live for him, but instead live to serve our own selfish wants. And we deserve to be pierced. We deserve to be crushed. But instead Jesus took our place.
So Jesus was pierced. "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…" (Isaiah 53:5) And the physical pain that Jesus suffered, as intense as it must have been, was nothing compared to the fiercest blow that he received. The hymn-writer put it this way, "But the deepest stroke that pierced him was the stroke that Justice gave." (CW #127:2) The sinless Son of God endured hell itself when the Father turned his back on him to carry out his justice against every sin—against your sin and mine.
We confess it every other week in the words of the Nicene Creed: "For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven… For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate." How true it is: "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…" (Isaiah 53:5)
It's enough to make you weep isn't it?
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
The plain of Megiddo was where the last good king of Israel was mortally wounded. He was pierced with an arrow and died from that wound. It really hit home when I saw the name of this king. We're told in 2 Chronicles 35 that, "Josiah… went to fight [Neco] on the plain of Megiddo… Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, "Take me away; I am badly wounded." So they took him out of his chariot, put him in the other chariot he had and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his fathers, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the men and women singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments."
It really hit home because, as you know, Josiah is the name of my firstborn. "They will… grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be… like the weeping… in the plain of Megiddo." (Where Josiah was mortally pierced.)
When we look at Jesus on the cross, we can't help but weep that deeply over our sins that put him there. We weep with the same sorrow we would have if our own firstborn son were killed. We weep in sorrow and in sincere repentance over what we've done to put God's firstborn son—his one and only Son—on the cross.
But God wants us to see more than just sorrow in the piercing of his Son. He wants us to also see his grace…
II. Look To the One Who Was Pierced
God, through Zechariah, said, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication." And the next phrase, the NIV translates, "They will look on me, the one they have pierced…" But the footnote offers another possible translation: "They will look to me, the one they have pierced…"
We are invited to look on him in sorrow over our sin and weep. But we're also invited to look to the one we have pierced. We look to him for help. And in him we find it. We look to him for forgiveness with the assurance that he will always give it. We look to him and find peace—peace with God who has poured out his grace on us like an eternal waterfall. And he's poured out on us his Spirit of grace to bring us to faith and to keep us trusting not in our works, but entirely in what Jesus has done for us.
Yes, Jesus was pierced. "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…" (Isaiah 53:5a) But you also know the rest of that verse: "the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5b)
So look to him. Look to him for help and he will heal you of your sin. Look to him for rest and he will give you peace. Look to him for the help you need to stay in the faith and he will continue to send his Holy Spirit. Look to him for all your needs and he gives you the Spirit of supplication who will hear your prayers and answer them in his grace.
Look to him every day as you also look to the skies, because you know that one day soon, he will return. And every eye will see him. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess. "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him." (Revelation 1:7)
But on that great and glorious day, our mourning will be over. For those who "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb… Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:14, 16-17)
When you see someone at Walmart with way too many piercings you may feel awkward looking too long. You know it's rude to stare. But with this one who was pierced, we're encouraged to look. It's okay. Go ahead and stare. Look at him and never look away. For when we look on Jesus, the one we have pierced with our sin, we also see God's grace that he pours out on us so lavishly, cleansing us from our sin, making us fresh and clean, holy and new, sinless and perfect, fit for heaven itself.
May we never look away from the one we have pierced, but always look to him. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who… endured the cross… Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3) In his name, dear friends, amen.