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Christ the King

Date: Nov. 25, 2018

Author: Bob Henkins

Zechariah 9:9-17

Key Verse: Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!     Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you,     righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey,     on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Thank God for blessing our Thanksgiving worship service last week. We have so much to be thankful for. God is good. God is gracious. God is faithful. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Today however, we find ourselves between Thanksgiving and the start of Advent. (always somewhat of a difficult week for planning) But interestingly enough, this Sunday is called Christ the King Sunday.

That’s why we will be diving into the book of Zechariah today because it touches upon the kingship of Christ. How many have studied this book? Do you have an idea of what it’s about? The passage that we just read together is 2538 years old. Haggai, who was a contemporary prophet of Zechariah (and worked together with him) his messages are among the most carefully and precisely dated in the entire Old Testament. They were given during a four-month period in 520 b.c., the second year of King Darius. The first message was delivered on the first day of the sixth month which would be August 29, 520. And we know that chapter 8 of Zechariah was finished December 7th, 518, chapter 8’s date is a little hazier. Still, isn’t that amazing.

In 538 b.c. the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus king of Persia, issued a decree allowing the Jews, who were called exiles because they were released from captivity, to return to Jerusalem and start rebuilding the temple (Ezr 1:2–4; 6:3–5). About 50,000 Jewish exiles journeyed home and began work on the temple. Zechariah was a prophet who, along with Haggai, encouraged the returning exiles to rebuild the temple (Ezr 5:1–2; 6:14). The reason they had to encourage the people was because after their initial successful first two years of reconstruction (536 b.c.), they completed the foundation greatly rejoiced (Ezr 3:8–11). Their success aroused the Samaritans and other neighbors who feared the political and religious implications of a rebuilt temple in a thriving Jewish state. They therefore opposed the project vigorously and managed to halt work until 520. Then Darius the Great became king of Persia in 522 (Ezr 4:1–5,24) and the reconstruction could resume. The exiles had a bit of PTSD after being in captivity and finally released, as a result they became fearful of their surrounding neighbors’ opposition.

The chief purpose of Zechariah (and Haggai) was to rebuke the people of Judah and to encourage and motivate them to complete the rebuilding of the temple (Zec 4:8–10; Hag 1–2), though both prophets were clearly interested in spiritual renewal as well. The Lord said that if Judah would return to him, he would return to them. Furthermore, his word would continue to be fulfilled. The book as a whole also teaches the sovereignty of God in history, over people and nations—past, present and future. In the first part we see how Jesus was the king that was promised to come and he did. And in the second part we’ll see that Jesus is the King to come again.

Our passage starts in chapter 9. Take a look at verses 9-10. “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” To many of us verse 9 is familiar, that’s because we usually hear about it whenever we read about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem from the books of Matthew, mark, Luke and John. In fact, when read about it in those books, actually says that Jesus was fulfilling this very prophecy that Zechariah proclaimed around 520 years before Jesus was born. These verses / passage are prophetic in context, meaning they were describing something that would occur in the future, and the disciples recorded when it actually happened. I’ve always been intrigued by prophecies, it’s one of the reasons that I accepted the invitation to Bible study. So, here we have one of the prophecies written about the Messiah a.k.a. the Christ, in which he is described as a king, but not an ordinary king, he’s God’s appointed King for he will be the redeemer and Savior of his people.

Did you realize that there are more than 300 prophecies written about the Messiah? (313 of them) Someone calculated that if we took just eight of the prophecies written about the Messiah/Christ, the probability of one man randomly fulfilling all eight would be about one in 100 trillion. And the chance of one man randomly fulfilling 48 of them would be one in 10 to the 157thpower. Now imagine what the probability would be of Jesus fulfilling every prophecy written, all 313 of them, about the coming Messiah. The probability is so small, that it would be almost impossible. So, what does this mean? It means that Jesus’ coming and fulfilling all 313 prophecies was not random, it was not by chance, it couldn’t be. There we conclude that it had to have been planned. But how could it be planned, if it spanned centuries, involving so many people from different nations and cultures, some even enemies, and childbirths in specific order? Who could plan such an elaborate plan? Who could do such a thing? The only conclusion that I could come to is that this couldn’t have been planned by any person, therefore the prophecies were given to us by our creator, God, for our benefit, so that we would know, without a doubt, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus is the King that Zechariah is talking about in verse 9.

Ok, so what is the purpose of this. Zechariah wrote this to give us insight into what this king would be like. And he said rejoice because your king comes to you. Think about that for a moment. When was the last time you rejoiced when you saw one of your leaders coming? In 2016, when people saw Trump coming to be president many people said, “he’s not my president,” but unfortunately that can be said about most of our elected officials. With the exception of a few good past ones, who can we rejoice about? (Who is rejoicing that JB is becoming our governor in a little over a month?) These days it seems like our leaders are not really there for us, but are there for themselves and their special interests. And since the election season just passed, we were inundated with all the bad news about every politician. How JB tried to make deals with Rod B and how he removed the toilets from his house just so he wouldn’t have to pay taxes. Or how Bruce R failed to run Illinois because he couldn’t find a way to work with Mike M. It’s a shame that they could not find an honest, hardworking, person that would sincerely do a good job representing the people and run for governor of Illinois, maybe there are not many people like this anymore, or those that might be interested in taking the job. But verse 9 tells us that Jesus is YOUR king, this means that he is personal, that he has a personal relationship with everyone that follows him. Jesus said that a good shepherd knows his sheep by name, (Jn 10:3) and in verse 16, it says that this king is like a shepherd that saves his flock, thus we can imply that this king knows his people by name. You don’t get much more personal being on a first name basis.

What does it mean that Jesus is YOUR king? It means that Jesus is there for you. He is there for your needs and concerns. It’s nearly impossible for someone to represent the needs and concerns of ALL people. How can they when we’re all so different? Heck, in Chicago, we can’t even agree upon which baseball team to cheer for. The only reason we can agree on which football team is because we only have one. Well, we can’t even agree on that because NU & OSU are competing for the Big Ten championship next week. But God is telling us in this passage that Jesus is YOUR king? He comes for you, because of you, and he’s working for the good of those who love him. (Ro 8:28) It’s hard to find a leader (politician) that truly represents us, our needs and desires, instead we have to find one that has their desires that resembles ours as closely as we can. Jesus loved his people so much that he was with them. He lived with them, he healed them, he fed them, he taught them, he was even willing to give his life for us. I’ve been blessed to have a few good leaders in my professional life. I’ve also had some terrible ones. But the good leaders are those who you are willing to do your best for. They are someone who encourages you, who builds you up, who trains you to be better, they give you vision that inspires you to achieve something greater, they believe in you, they protect you when you make mistakes and rebuke you to do better. Good leaders, they are worth their weight in gold, so if you ever work for a good leader, take my word for it, appreciate them because they don’t come along very often. Jesus is one such leader and he is humble, gentle and approachable. In this passage there is a contrast between God’s king and the worldly kings. Worldly leaders are proud and crave power, but God’s king is humble and Almighty so he doesn’t have to crave it. The fact that he rides a donkey shows how humble he is. Worldly leaders ride powerful transportation to give that image of power which is good it means they are strong, but it also puts some distance between us. We really can ‘t get that close to them, but Jesus is humble, approachable and gentle. And yet Jesus is also a king that demands absolute commitment and service, being Americans, we don’t usually like the idea of a king over us, but because Jesus is such a great leader, that he established that trust, we are inspired to follow him because he wants to sparkle like jewels in a crown.

Verse 9 also tells us that this king is not like the politicians of our time, for he is righteous and victorious. He isn’t corrupt (like JB) or ineffective (like Rauner). This king, will do what is right and true, he won’t be bought by special interests, he won’t be squeezed by people or pressured into doing something that isn’t right. He was wisdom and insight to do what is right and just. Also, he is victorious. Maybe some politicians come in with a good attitude and want to do what is right, but then they are caught up in a system where they have no power and slowly that good attitude is whittled away as they have to make compromise after compromise until they are a shell of their former self. This king is different, he is victorious, he doesn’t have to compromise, he defeats those who oppose doing what is right. No one likes to be on the losing side, everyone wants to be on the victorious side. (election night, losers party is empty even though there is free food & drink)

Another thing we see in verse 10 is that this king comes to bring peace to the nations. The disciple John recorded what Jesus told them, he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (Jn 14:27) Jesus said he came to give us peace, this is REAL peace not the fake or temporary stuff the world offers. Because the world will lie to you. The peace Jesus is referring to here is both worldly peace and inner peace. Even if the politicians could achieve world peace, which I’m not sure if that is possible, but for the sake of argument let’s say it is, how could they give inner peace to EVERY person, that’s simply not possible. There are so many suffering people in the world how could they do it? They can’t. Only Jesus can because he is the one who created us and knows us inside and out.

Take a look at verse 11. “11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.” This refers to God’s Covenant that He made with Abraham and secured it by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ. We can read about the blood covenant in more detail in Exodus 24:3-8. Spiritually speaking, we are all prisoners of sin, but because of the blood covenant, Jesus will set believers free. The waterless pit reminds us of when Joseph’s brothers through him in that dry cistern to leave him to die.

In verses 12-13, God announces that he will restore twice as much to the prisoners. “12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. 13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword.” How wonderful is this for the prisoners of hope.

The second part has to do with Jesus is the King to come (v14-17). Take a look at verses 14-17. “14 Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, 15 and the Lord Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with slingstones. They will drink and roar as with wine; they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar. 16 The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. 17 How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.”

This section talks about when Jesus will return. The second time he will not come as a humble shepherd, but as a mighty warrior king. He will come with a trumpet sound (Mt 24:30-31) “30 Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Jesus told his disciples that he would die and he would return (Lk21:27-28) “27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”” As we celebrate Christ as our king on this Sunday, let me give you a little history of this day. Pope Pius XI instituted “The Feast of Christ the King” (official name) in 1925, to celebrate the full authority of Christ as King and Lord of the universe. He connected the increasing denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism throughout much of Europe. At the time, many Christians (including Catholics) began to doubt Christ's authority and existence, as well as the Church's power to continue Christ's authority. Pius hoped the institution of the feast would have various effects. They were:

  1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom and immunity from the state.
  2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ.
  3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies. (Quas Primas-31,32&33)

Today, the same distrust of authority exists, although the problem seems to have has gotten worse. Individualism has been embraced to such an extreme, that for many, the only authority is the individual self. The idea of Christ as ruler is rejected in such a strongly individualistic society. Also, many people don’t like the idea of kings and queens, believing them to be antiquated and possibly oppressive. Some even reject the titles of "lord" and "king" for Christ because they believe that such titles are borrowed from oppressive systems of government. However true these statements might be (because the reality is that some kings have been oppressive), people who think like this miss the point: Christ's kingship is one of humility and service. Jesus’ sincere love for us can be seen in his extreme sacrifice when he gave his life for us.

Just as Zechariah needed to encourage the people of his time because of the fear when they encountered opposition, and Pope Pius XI needed to encourage the people of his time because of the distrust they encountered opposition, we too need encouragement because of the opposition of our time. But just as the people before us came to know, we need to know that we don’t have to fear because we have a king that we can trust and believe in. Verse 10 encourages us to REJOICE because we have such a king. So, let’s rejoice as we prepare for advent.

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