"It Is Finished!"
The Kingly Priest
A sermon Zechariah 6:9-13
Sunday, March 15, 2015 – Lent 4B
The pastor couldn't believe it. He didn't really expect to win. It was more his commentary on the way things were being run than a serious attempt to be elected. Nevertheless, he won the race! Now, in addition to shepherding his flock, counseling his members, and preaching and teaching every week, he would also be the mayor of his small town. Now he had not just one but two very big jobs to do. How would he ever manage as both pastor and mayor?
This morning we hear the account of an Old Testament priest taking on a second job. He would also be a king. Though we would consider it a confusion of roles of church and state, and thought it was actually forbidden in the Old Testament since only Levites could be priests and only Jews could be kings, nevertheless one man would hold both offices.
Centuries before Jesus came to Jerusalem, the prophet Zechariah described the events of the last week of his life with such clarity that he's been given the nickname, the Holy Week Prophet. This morning we take a look at a prophecy that describes how a priest named Joshua was also crowned as king. Joshua was his name. And Joshua served not only as a priest and a king, but as a type of Christ. His dual ministry would be like Jesus'—who's name in Hebrew, by the way, is Yeshua, or Joshua. Our lesson from Zechariah 6:9-13…
9 The word of the Lord came to me: 10 "Take silver and gold from the exiles… who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. 12 Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'
Annas was the high priest. Well, sort of. He had been until the Romans deposed him and placed his son-in-law, Caiaphas, in office. But most of the Jews didn't care what the Romans said. Annas was still their high priest. So for a time there were two high priests residing over the temple. Both condemned Jesus to death, one right after the other. Then they sent him to Pilate.
Pilate was the governor. He wasn't Ceasar by any stretch of the imagination, but he did have considerable power to rule in Jerusalem. He had the power to free Jesus or to condemn him. The Jews could kick Jesus out of the temple, but they couldn't condemn him to death. So the priests passed Jesus to the governor as they sought the death penalty.
After Pilate tried to free Jesus because he was obviously innocent, he had him flogged—whipped with a multiple stranded whip with rock or bone embedded in the strands which would tear away the flesh from Jesus' back. After Jesus had been mutilated, he presented the gory figure back to the people, I think hoping to elicit some sympathy that would make them say, "Okay. Good enough. He's been punished enough. Let him live." And when he presented this broken and bloodied teacher to the mob, Pilate declared, "Here is the man."
"Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"
Yes, here was the man—the man who was the fulfillment of our prophecy in Zechariah—passed from the priest to this ruler to be condemned! How ironic! Here before them stood the Messiah who was typified by Joshua—the Priest who was crowned King—the one who perfectly represented God and ruled for his people in love!
And the priests condemned the Great High Priest that every priest typified. The governor and his soldiers mocked and condemned the King of kings, now blooded and broken.
But why? How could they have missed who he was? How could they have not have known that he was the Kingly Priest? How could we?
Annas, Caiphas, Pilate, and the soldiers may have missed that Jesus was the Great High Priest and the King of kings because he didn't look very regal as he stood before the courts. He didn't look very priestly. And maybe we miss who Jesus is for the same reason. It doesn't always look like he's in control. It seems like we are. We forget about the sacrifice of our priest and forget who he is too.
I know, you're thinking, "I know who Jesus is! I know he is the Priest who sacrificed for me! I know he is the King who rules all things!" But let me ask, don't you sometimes try to take control of things yourself instead of letting Jesus be in charge? If we're honest, that's exactly what we do every time we sin. We try to shove Jesus' off his throne and take the seat ourselves. We forget about the sacrifice our Great High Priest made for us when we refuse to sacrifice anything for him. "Take our silver and gold and offer it to Jesus? No thanks! I'd rather crown myself with glory and comfort and luxury than crown him King."
How we deserve the suffering of Jesus! To be flogged and mocked and struck in the face for so often rejecting the King and forgetting about the sacrifice of our Great High Priest. How we deserve the hell our Kingly Priest endured!
But you know that we never will get what we deserve! Because of what he willingly endured! The Great High Priest submitted to the corrupt priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas that he might become the once for all sacrifice that the priesthood all pointed to. The King of kings submitted to the injustice of a governor more concerned about his job than what was right. He submitted to cruel soldiers that he might fight the battle against sin and hell for us.
And by his work as both priest and king, our Savior has fulfilled what Zechariah declared of Joshua: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the Lord.
To Joshua and the other exiles now returned to Jerusalem, this promise must have given them hope that the temple would soon be rebuilt. The house of God which lay in ruins after the siege that took their city would be restored.
But we can't help but think of what God promised King David through the prophet Nathan: 4 "Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in… " 'I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.' " (1 Chronicles 17:4,10-14)
And you know that the fulfillment is found in more than just Solomon building the temple, but in Jesus building the church. In Luke 1(: ) the angel, Gabriel told Mary, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. [that is, Yeshua, or Joshua] 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
By the sacrifice that our Great High Priest made for us, he has built a temple, a house—his Church—which will never end. And after he made that sacrifice, he ascended into heaven where he still sits on his throne ruling all things for our good.
It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'
At first it seems like a confusion between the roles of church and state. You wouldn't want your pastor to be your mayor or your mayor to be your pastor. But when your pastor is Jesus, no one minds that he's king too. And when you're king is Jesus, he's also the best pastor. There is perfect harmony between the two offices when they're both carried out by God.
So rejoice that you have a perfect King who rules over all things for your eternal good. Rejoice that you have a perfect Priest who sacrificed himself on the cross to pay for your sins! Rejoice that you have the perfect Kingly Priest who built the house of God.
And he's building that temple today still. Peter declared, "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5)
So we offer our spiritual sacrifices to God in thanks to him for sending our Kingly Priest to rescue us. We use our silver and gold to crown him the King of kings as we bring our offerings of thanks to him. We serve as the priests of the Great High Priest that he has made us as we share the work of our Kingly Priest with others!
When Pilate announce, "Here is the man," little did he know that there was the God-man who was the Perfect priest and the perfect King. There was the man who as priest sacrificed himself to hell to save all people from their sins. There was the man who as king charged into battle to redeem the world from satan, death, and hell. There was the man who rescued us.
Thank God that we know who he is: Our Priest and our King. And go live for him in thanks as you crown him with glory and praise! In the name of Jesus, our Kingly Priest, amen.