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Cut to the heart

“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..." Zechariah 12.10

Zechariah's second oracle (chapters 12-14) speaks of Jerusalem's final siege and the return of Messiah - to defeat the enemies of Israel and to establish the Kingdom of God. Again. right in the middle of the bellicose - even triumphalist - language nestles the passage quoted above, which is altogether different in tone as in content. Rather than heralding their conquering king, the people of Israel are stricken with grief on account of their impaling of God, their Lord and Saviour. To whom could that refer other than to Jesus and his crucifixion hundreds of years after Zechariah uttered his prophecy?

The inevitable conclusion is that the self-sacrifice of Jesus at the hands of the Romans, with the collusion - and indeed at the insistence - of the Jews, was sewn into God's plan of redemption long before it come about; perhaps from the very beginning? There may be a more workaday explanation but attempts to force the events of the Bible to comply with our understanding of how the world works flies in the face of the logical recognition that God exists and operates outside of the created order which God has made. Therefore we should not be surprised when God's activities run counter to our expectations.

At times a more appropriate response is simply to gaze in wonder. At other times, we fall on our knees in humble contrition. And again it may be that we need to open our eyes, widen our appreciation and deepen our understanding. Whatever the situation calls for, what we need is that "spirit of grace and supplication" which God longs to provide for those who will receive it and who came in person at Pentecost. Veni Sancte Spiritus!



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