“A People Restored”: Zechariah the Prophet
Have you ever known of someone only to be completely surprised by them when you met them for the first time? Sometimes we get an idea that someone is a great person, only to be disappointed. At other times, we might discover that someone famous is humble and are surprised when he or she seems to really engage with us. It’s funny how we can form an opinion of someone—even based on superficial observations—and have such a hard time breaking out of our preconceived notions.
This was Israel’s problem concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament carrying over into the Gospel accounts. Somewhere along the line, God’s people began to think of the Messiah less as the one to save them from sin and more as the one to save them from oppression. This is why so many rejected Jesus in the Gospel accounts. They thought of the Messiah as a military or political leader—a strong leader who would raise up a rebellion against Rome and bring liberation from their tyranny.
When Jesus first burst onto the scene, the crowds were open to Him being the Messiah. Here was a man performing great miracles. Imagine going into battle against Rome with a Messiah who could feed the Jewish army miraculously and heal their wounds from battle—even raise them from the dead! That army would be unstoppable!
But then, Jesus began to talk about paying taxes to Rome and turning the other cheek. And so they began to turn on Him.
It is tempting to give the Jews the benefit of the doubt; the above seems reasonable. But when we look at the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, we see that the Israelites should have known better. Jesus’ behavior should not have been a surprise. Had the Jews paid attention to the clear promises God made about who the Messiah would be and what He would do, they would have recognized that Jesus is the Messiah and trusted in Him rather than crucifying Him.
An Unexpected King
Jesus would be unlike any other king, evidenced by the prophecies such as in this week’s session. Kings do not ride on colts; they ride on stallions. At least “normal” ones do. Now, it is true Jesus will ride on a horse one day (see Revelation 19), but riding into Jerusalem on a colt was an exclamation mark that this Messiah, this King, was different. This king was humble in a greater way than many can grasp (see Philippians 2).
Jesus is a King like none other. He is the King of kings who rules perfectly, but He is also the King of kings who serves His servants. Which is the second big idea…
A Sacrificing King
Jesus would be a King who would not only be served, but who would serve others (see Isaiah 52-53). The way that this King would serve would be by sacrificing Himself—laying down His life for others. This is the exact opposite actions of the human kings Israel demanded of God. He had warned them that human kings call on their subjects to sacrifice on their behalf, not the other way around (see 1 Samuel 8).
Jesus is a King like none other. He is the King of kings who died to pay the penalty of sin for people who rebelled against Him so that they might be restored into relationship with God. Which is the third big idea…
An Eternal King
Earthly kingdoms come and go. The Romans had quite a kingdom for a good length of time, but it ended eventually. Kings even have shorter reigns, limited to their lifespans. But Jesus is different. He is the King who reigns with no end over a kingdom with no end.
Jesus is a King like none other. He is the King of kings who reigns eternally, and because of the sacrifice He made on our behalf, we are invited in to be part of His eternal kingdom. And our participation does not begin “then,” but rather “now”—the moment we trust in Christ. At that moment, we are given eternal life and are invited into the kingdom, the eternal guests who have become brothers and sisters of the King.
It was not nails that held Jesus to that wretched cross; it was his unqualified resolution, out of love for his Father, to do his Father’s will—and, within that framework, it was his love for sinners like me.” — D. A. CarsonD. A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 30.
Preschool Tip: Don’t hesitate to keep things simple with preschoolers—focus on the promise that was made that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a colt, a sign of humility, and how He fulfilled that promise as part of the triumphal entry.
Kids Tip: Unlike where Jesus was born or who His ancestors were, this was one of the Messianic prophecies that could have been orchestrated. If you have time, anticipate some of your kids picking up on this—this prophecy might seem less impressive because of this—and address it. Let your kids know that when Jesus fulfilled this prophecy, He was declaring for all that He is the Messiah.