On a cold December day in 1944, American armed forces were surrounded in the now-famous “Battle of the Bulge.” Sensing an opportunity to force the Americans to surrender, the Germans sent a message to General Anthony McAuliffe demanding they lay down arms and give up. Encircling the cold and weary American troops who were defending the town of Bastogne, the Germans threatened total annihilation should anyone not surrender to them, assuming their own victory was imminent. Instead the Germans received an unexpected, single-word response to their presumed domination; General McAuliffe simply wrote back “NUTS!” and refused to surrender.
The “pronouncement” that God speaks in chapter 12 of Zechariah’s prophecy contains that kind of secure confidence. Envisioning a time when all the armies of the world would be arrayed around the holy city of Jerusalem, God declares they are no match for His strong arm.
God describes that day as a day when everyone will come against His people. His people will be like a heavy stone—so heavy, that when the nations try to lift it, they will end up injuring themselves (v.3). He will fight for His city by bringing the armies of His enemies into a panic (v.4). He will cause His wayward people to turn back to Him in repentance (vv.5–6). He will save and defend His people from those who came to destroy them (v.9).
But the means of that salvation will not be cause for a ticker-tape parade and national celebration. The pronouncement declares that the people will mourn. As the fog of war lifts and the reality of what saved them comes into view, they will “look at me whom they pierced” (v.10). Clarity comes in the Gospels when we see that our own salvation comes from the Savior’s death.
The future day that Zechariah proclaimed was the day when Christ would rescue His people from their sins through His own death. At the hands of His own people, Jesus laid down His life to conquer the three-fold foe of Satan, sin, and death.
This momentous truth brings out a response that we must embrace. As John Stott so eloquently put it, “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.” When we see that we have pierced the Son by our own sins, and we repent and embrace Him, we find the absolute security of God. His grace causes us to mourn, but His grace also enables us to stand in His mercy and power.
The cross was the definitive victory of God over all His enemies, and over the enemies of His people. There is coming a day where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to His glory (Philippians 2:10–11). Even though we fear that the world, the devil, and our sins will overcome us, God responds with a decisive victory in Christ. We have no reason to fear!
Written by Jeremy Writebol