The One They Pierced

Sunday, Aug. 21                        

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.”  John 7:37-39.  The eighth and last day was the most important day of all.  A priest would lead a procession from the Temple down ancient steps to the Gihon Spring.  This was the original water supply for Jerusalem, and which met a critical need when Jerusalem was under siege. At the spring, the priest would fill a gold pitcher with water and they would all return to the Temple, where the water would be poured out on the altar.  This would remind the people of how God had provided for them throughout their history, including Moses striking the rock to provide water during the desert wanderings.  At this point in the ritual, Jesus stood up and invited people to the water of life that he was providing.  It must have been a total shock for all those people participating in this ritual.  In effect, he was claiming to be God.  The response is very interesting.  One man said he must be a prophet.  Another said he must be the Messiah.  Why did they respond that way to this radical interruption of the sacred ritual?  The answer is found in Zech. 12-14, a prophetic passage describing the second coming of Christ.  Amidst all the events of the second coming as described here is this key verse, Zech. 12: 10.  “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 first born son.”  And Zech. 13:7.  “If someone asks him ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’”  The people who heard Jesus would have been very familiar with this passage. Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, and all those people knew it.  The wounds and the piercing had not taken place yet, but they all knew that Jesus was being rejected by the Jewish leaders and by the nation as a whole.  Jesus knew exactly what he was doing and would not have been surprised at the responses.

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