What do we want from our government leaders? What do we want from governors, kings, and presidents? Most of us have a laundry list of things we’d like to see the government do: repeal bad laws, bring justice to marginalized groups, overhaul broken programs, help the economy, provide better healthcare, lower our taxes, and so on.
Shortly after Israel returned from their captivity in Babylon, God promised to return to the land and claim it as His own (Zechariah 9:1–8). The prophet Zechariah told the people that God would give them a new government and a new King (vv.9–13), one who would make the people incredibly prosperous and bring justice and victory for Israel (vv.14–17).
God Himself would fight for this King until peace between Israel and the nations was finally secure. According to Zechariah, the new King would put away battle bows and war horses; there would be no more need to fight because His rule would extend from sea to sea (Zechariah 9:10). Like King David of old, the new ruler would shepherd the people like a flock of sheep (see Psalm 100:3), and they would thrive under His leadership, sparkling in the land like jewels in His hand (Zechariah 9:16–17; Isaiah 62:3).
God’s promises to bless the people in this passage are simply incredible. Israel certainly anticipated the new King’s rule, and the greatness and prosperity this Messiah would bring. But many in Israel—and particularly the religious leaders—rejected King Jesus when He arrived (Luke 19:39). How could this be? How did they miss the promised King?
They missed Him for the same reasons we sometimes miss Him today. We want the kind of prosperity that’s offered by politicians more than we want the promises of God. Sure, we want the eternal glory that God promises His people, but we don’t want the suffering that comes first. We want power and vindication, but we fail to see that God’s righteousness comes to us wrapped in weakness. King Jesus came humbly, riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He didn’t achieve the forgiveness of sins and secure salvation through military might, but rather through the blood of the covenant (v.11), His own blood that He shed for our sins when He was crucified and condemned as a criminal in our place.
If we want to be embraced by the best King—the one who offers us eternity—we will learn to embrace His humility ourselves (Philippians 2:5–11). King Jesus says it this way: “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Written by Jared Kennedy