HIM WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED

By Stephen Green

First Published in Christian Voice April 2013

Zech 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Zechariah’s prophecy of the Lord’s defence of Jerusalem is a most extraordinary and uplifting piece of writing.  In verse 9 we read that the Lord will ‘destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem’.

But what except the Holy Spirit drove Zechariah to write such a prophecy and to include in it the significant detail that the people of Jerusalem would ‘look upon me whom they have pierced’?

Zechariah emphasises this mourning for the God they have pierced over the next four verses.  It will be ‘a great mourning’ (vs 11) conducted by ‘every family’ (vs 12) including ‘the family of the house of Levi (vs 13) and ‘all the families that remain’ (vs14).

The prophecy speaks of the house of David and Jerusalem piercing their saviour, and although the Romans actually crucified the Lord Jesus, we are led in the Gospels to see the complicity of the Jewish leaders of the day in that act of brutality.  First, Psalm 22:16 was fulfilled:

Psalm 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

But the Apostle John is clear that at least a significant part of the fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy was found when a soldier pierced the Lord’s side:

John 19:33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

Crucifixion normally caused death by asphyxiation.  Hanging by the arms made it increasingly difficult to breathe.  If the man being crucified could push up on his feet, he could stay alive for a little while longer.  Breaking his legs deprived him of that ability and hastened his death.

But the Lord Jesus had already voluntarily yielded up his spirit (vs 30).  He was dead when the Romans came around with their hammers.  The Passover lamb must not have any of its bones broken and neither would the ultimate Passover Lamb of God.

Exod 12:46  In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

Numb 9:12  They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.

Psalm 34 is not referring to Passover, but is an additional prophetic confirmation:

Psalm 34:20  He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

So the Apostle John is able to look at both the way the Lord’s bones were not broken and the piercing of his side by the spear as the fulfilment of both prophecies:

John 19:36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

There is an often overlooked factor to do with the piercing of our Lord and I shall tread as delicately as I can.

In Bible times, a bond servant could opt into a permanent state of slavery.  The visible sign of this would be having his ear pierced:

Exod 21:6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

The ear-piercing might be accompanied by an earring to keep the bored hole in his ear open.  Not exactly Claire’s Accessories, but functional and a demonstration to the world of the man’s state of servitude.

The unifying factor between Zechariah’s prophecy and the slave’s ear is that the male body is not intended to be pierced or penetrated by anything at all.  The female body is, in a very particular way, but for the male body to be pierced is an act of  humiliation and violence.

It was an act of humiliation and violence for our Lord’s side to be pierced and it was an act of humiliation and a certain degree of violence for the servant to have his ear pierced.

In our day, piercings to various parts of the anatomy are commonplace among young men, and it is a violation of their body.  I am not saying that I am comfortable with women having piercings and whether or not ear-lobes are excused, but that is not the point.

My point is that at a spiritual level it is a desecration of the male body to be pierced in any way at all.  And today it is impossible to escape the fact that one significant way in which the male body is pierced is in the act of sodomy.

Let us be clear that the particular part of the anatomy involved is not designed by our gracious maker to be penetrated in either the male body or the female.

But when we put the two together, the piercing of the male body together with the unnatural use of that part of the anatomy, we can see sodomy for the appalling act of violence it is.

The mental trauma of such an act can leave the victim emotionally scarred for life.  He may never be able to form a normal relationship after such an experience.  If he became involuntarily aroused, or by the principle of identification with the aggressor, he might begin to consider himself homosexual and begin to perpetuate the cycle.

There have been stories of police brutality in which objects have forced into a male prisoner.  But in every act of sodomy, even when the passive partner is willing, there is a violation at a physical and spiritual level of the male body.  It is not an act of love, it is an act of violence.

For anyone who has been subjected to such an act, just once or even repeatedly, there is hope and healing in Christ’s experience.  I should go so far as to say that every one who has been violated in any way at all can find renewal in our Lord’s cross and resurrection.  After having his hands, feet and side pierced, he gave up his spirit and was laid in the grave.  But in the words of that great sermon: ‘It may be Friday, but Sunday’s coming.’  Three days later, on the first day of the week, Jesus rose from the dead.  The agony and shame of the cross, the violation of his body, lay in the past.

All who confess the Lord Jesus now live his risen life through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. And for those suffering from any kind of betrayal, hurt or trauma, there is new life in his life.  Our past is nailed to the cross.  We do not have to go over it time and again.  In fact we must not.  If Satan can keep us in the past, he’ll rob us of our future.  I have written before of the necessity and power of forgiveness, and this is another aspect of it.  If we can only trust the Lord of life, and his healing power, every thing holding us back is as finished as what he did, and what was done to him, on the cross.  Jesus makes all things new.

Now, I don’t know why the English-speaking peoples adopted for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection a German word associated with the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn, Eostre.  Perhaps there is a Germanic root involving resurrection in it, as in the dawning of a new day, and the rising of the sun.  I am fairly sure that in every other language in the world, the word for the greatest Christian festival is derived from the Hebrew word ‘Passover.’  The French word for ‘Easter’ is ‘Pâques’.  In Dutch it is ‘Pasen’, in Swahili ‘Pasaka’.  Even the Greek word mis-translated ‘Easter’ in Acts 12:4 in the King James Version is ‘Pascha’.

But be that as it may, the message of Easter is one of resurrection, of triumph, of new life and  of liberation.  Christ Jesus would go on to ascend into heaven to be seated, as he told the Sanhedrin in Mark 14:62, on the right hand of power.

Mark 14:61 … Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

In the great day which is to come he will be revealed as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Blessed are those who put their trust in him.  He heals and he saves, and that to the uttermost.  The final part of Zechariah’s prophecy in Zech 12:10-14 will in that day be gloriously, and for some tragically, be fulfilled:

Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

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