A Different Kind of King (Zechariah 9:9-10)
In the days of absolute monarchies, kings often used their power to their own benefit. Take Edward I of England, for example.
Pope Boniface VIII ordered the priests in England to disregard the country’s tax laws and to refuse to pay any money to the crown under penalty of excommunication. King Edward I responded by saying that, since the priests were unwilling to support civil government, they were unworthy of receiving any benefit from it. Accordingly, he put them out of the protection of his laws.
Soon the priests began to be robbed of money, clothing, and horses, without any redress from the courts. he priests soon found a way to get around the Pope’s threat of communication, but I want you to notice Edward’s abuse of power.
Zechariah 9 is largely about a king who was powerful and knew it—verses 1-8 describe the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great was a powerful ruler, and he knew it.
After describing Alexander’s conquest, Zechariah writes about the Messiah. It seems to me that Zechariah is setting up a contrast between the Messiah and Alexander. He says, in essence, “Here’s the type of powerful king the world creates, but here’s a different kind of king.”
Because the Messiah is a different kind of king, he causes great rejoicing. Notice what Zechariah says: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, as predicted in this prophecy, the city was in an uproar with rejoicing—Matthew 21:6-9.
Jesus has brought great rejoicing into this world. After Philip preached in a city of Samaria, we read, “There was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). Later in that same chapter, after the eunuch is baptized, we read, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).
In this morning’s text, Zechariah tells us quite clearly why we have reason to rejoice:
A Righteous King, v 9
The king comes to Jerusalem as a righteous king.
God greatly valued righteousness in the kings of his people. The Lord had told David, “When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth” (2 Sam 23:3-4).
You also know that God seldom had a righteous king to lead his people. You know that Jeroboam was anything but a good king (1 Ki 12:28-30). Not much goo can be said about Ahab, either: “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him” (1 Ki 16:30-31).
In the Messiah, however, the Lord found a righteous king for his people. King Jesus is righteous in that he never sinned—“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Heb 4:15).
Because Jesus was righteous, we can be righteous—“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). God desired that his kings be righteous so that they might lead his people in righteousness. Jeroboam, because he erected idols, is remembered as the king who made Israel sin. Josiah, on the other hand, a righteous king, is remembered for the religious reforms he brought to Judah.
There’s a very real reason that God needed Jesus to be righteous—through that righteousness he is able to make us righteous. We’re not able to be righteous on our own—each one of us has committed sin; each one of us has committed sins which have embarrassed us to the core. Yet, Jesus is able to make us righteous. Those who accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross are made righteous in the eyes of God. This morning, are you righteous in the eyes of God?
A Saving King, v 9
The king coming for the Israelites has salvation.
This puts the Messiah at great variance with Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great never came to save, but he came to kill and rule with an iron fist.
Yet, the Messiah never came to condemn, but he came to save. Jesus, you see, possesses salvation. Concerning Christ, Peter said to the Sanhedrin, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). When the church at Jerusalem came together to discuss the salvation of the Gentiles, Peter said, “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:11).
Because the Messiah is a saving king, you and I can be pardoned for our every sin. “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel” (Acts 5:31). “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lies to intercede for them” (Heb 7:25).
We know that we are full of sin, and we also know that with those sins we cannot enter the heavenly paradise God has promised. However, Jesus has come to save us from every one of those sins. Has he saved you from your sin?
A Gentle King, v 9
The king coming for the Israelites is gentle. Here there is great juxtaposition between Alexander and the Messiah. Alexander was a brutal king who took kingdoms by force. The Israelites’ king was nothing like that, but he was gentle.
Jesus himself claimed to be gentle—“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:29).
Think about how gentle Jesus was in his earthly ministry. When Jesus encountered a widow who had lost her only son, he went up to her, and said, “Don’t cry,” and raised her son (Lk 7). When Jesus was anointed by a prostitute, Simon, at whose home Jesus was a guest, began murmuring against the woman, and Jesus told her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Lk 7).
If Jesus was so gentle with people, how gentle do you think we need to be? When a brother or sister is in sin, we dare not turn the other way, but should we not be gentle? When we seek to comfort those who hurt, can we be anything but gentle?
An Humble King, v 9
The king comes riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Kings in the Ancient Near East often rode on mules, but this king rides on a common donkey. That he rides on a donkey rather than a mule is likely more a symbol of humility than royalty.
Again, this is likely great juxtaposition between earthly kings, viz., Alexander the Great, and the Messiah.
You don’t really associate humility with kingship. Royalty, both ancient and modern, has generally believed that they had a divine right to rule. Alexander was no exception as he swept across the world with a sword. According to an ancient tradition recorded by Josephus, as Alexander neared Jerusalem, some Jewish rabbis brought a scroll of Daniel toward him and allowed him to read the prophecies concerning himself. Alexander accepted those prophecies of foretelling his conquest and believed he had a divine right to take those territories.
The messianic king is completely humble.
Although he had a multitude of divine rights, he willingly laid them aside for us. Again, remember the words of Jesus himself: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:29). In admonishing the Philippians to be humble Paul reminded them of Jesus’ example: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:6-8).
Think about the great humility of Jesus! He was the Creator, but his first bed was a trough from which some of his creation ate. He was a Lawgiver, but he became subject to those laws himself. He deserved nothing but praise and worship from man made in his own image, but he allowed himself to be nailed to a cross by man that he might save man.
A Peaceful King, v 10
Zechariah clearly portrays that the new King would be vastly different from Alexander.
The verses immediately preceding our text detail Alexander’s conquest in war terminology. Speaking of Tyre, Zechariah declares, “The Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire” (v 4). “Foreigners will occupy Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines” (v 6).
The Messiah would be nothing like those other kings. Instead of riding upon a war horse, the Messiah would come riding upon a donkey, not only a symbol of humility but a symbol of peace. Additionally, verse ten reads, “I will take away the chariots of Ephraim and the war0hoses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.”
Jesus is a peaceful King.
Messianic prophecies often depicted the new age as an age of peace. “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Is 2:4). “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety” (Hos 2:18).
Jesus brings peace on several levels.
Jesus brings individual peace.
How many families have been in turmoil-husbands and wives or parents and children or siblings—then come in contact with Jesus and are reconciled with one another? How many neighbors have been at each other’s throats until one of them found Jesus and then they are reconciled?
Jesus brings internal peace.
How many of us were eaten up with guilt until we obeyed the Gospel and had every sin forgiven? How many of us sleep easily at night precisely because we know that if we do not awaken in the morning that we have glory which far outweighs the present world?
Jesus brings international peace.
Granted, there is much war in this world long after Jesus came. But what if the leaders of the nations followed Christ’s standards? Would there not be peace in this world?
A Universal King, v 10
“His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
Alexander desired a universal kingdom, and he came somewhat close to having one.
The Messiah would not come close to have a universal kingdom—he would actually have one.
The Old Testament prophesied that Gentiles would be accepted into the Messiah’s kingdom. “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him” (Ps 22:27). “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Is 49:6).
We live in a time when that promise has been fulfilled. “The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God” (Acts 11:1). “I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” (Acts 28:26).
How grateful we need to be that God has brought salvation to the Gentiles! Because salvation has come to the Gentiles, we are able to be children of God. Because salvation has come to the Gentiles, we are able to know the love God has bestowed upon us Because salvation has come to the Gentiles, we are able to have all our sins forgiven.
Do you need to come this morning and have all your sins forgiven?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.