By Horatius Bonar
"They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." -- Zechariah 12:10
LET us take up this passage under the following heads, which will bring out all its parts: (1.) the pierced one; (2.) the piercers; (3.) the lookers; (4.) the mourners.
I. The pierced one. Messiah,--the seed of the woman; the man with the bruised heel; he is the pierced one. It is He, Himself, who speaks. He was pierced by the nails and by the spear; by the nails to effect his death, by the spear to prove it; both of these, the exhibitions of man's hatred, before and after death. It is as the pierced one that we see him in the twenty-second Psalm and in the fifty-third of Isaiah; as such on the cross; as such in heaven, the Lamb slain. Divine yet human; human yet divine; both of these perfectly; human, that he might be pierced; divine, that his piercing might be efficacious. By his stripes we are healed.
II. The piercers. These in the first place are the Jews and the Romans, at the cross; Jew and Gentile uniting in this act, the Jew the planner and counsellor, the Gentile the executioner. It was the united hatred of Jew and Gentile that did the deed. The crowd surrounding the cross, they are consenting and partaking,--and all to whom the proclamation of this piercing comes, who do not come out from the crowd and protest against the deed by believing in the pierced one. In this way it is that all the world is guilty of the deed.
III. The lookers. In one sense the first piercers were lookers. They looked and pierced; they pierced and looked. But that looking wrought no change; they looked and hated only the more. Jew and Gentile then looked, but they remained the same. The lookers in our text are not those who surrounded the cross, but those who came afterwards, not looking at the actual cross, but listening to the story of the pierced one. How idly they talk who say, Had we seen the cross we should have been melted down! At Pentecost we find these lookers; in many places, and times, and ages we find them; we find them still. In the latter day our text is to be more fully verified to Jew and Gentile, "Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him," i.e., look upon him. The whole world shall be lookers then,--"every eye." In our day we may say that it is by the ear we look; it is the record that brings the cross before the eye, and presents to us the pierced one. We preach the story of the cross and say, Look!
IV. The mourners. The actual piercers at the cross did not mourn; they railed and wagged their heads; the sight of the pierced one then produced only hatred and mockery. A man might see the cross and remain hardhearted. The cross and the crucifix in themselves can do nothing for a soul. Yet the pierced one is the object to which God turns our eye. It is of him that the Holy Spirit makes use in breaking the hard heart and binding up the broken one. He does not work save in connection with the cross of Christ. He uses the cross for producing godly sorrow. Mark,
1. The sorrow here referred to is very deep. It is like mourning for an only son; it is like the bitterness of soul for a first-born. It is not the sorrow of a moment or an hour, but prolonged; not surface-sorrow, but deep; not sentimentalism, but genuine grief,--the grief of the whole man.
2. It is sorrow produced by the Holy Spirit. His hand is in it, else we might look a thousand times over at the cross and remain unmoved. It is not the sorrow produced by pictures, or statues, or the sight of Sinai or Jerusalem, or harrowing descriptions, or sad poetry, or plaintive music, like the "Miserere" of Rome, or by the darkness of a gloomy chamber,--these are artificial and mechanical ways of calling up apparent religious feeling; but it is only the sorrow of the world which worketh death, not godly sorrow working repentance unto life, nor is it even so deep as that of Judas when he said, "I have sinned." It is man-made conviction, if it be conviction at all, not the sorrow of the Holy Ghost.
3. It is sorrow flowing from looking at the pierced one. We do not first mourn and then look; we look and mourn. Not the one without the other; and not the mourning before the looking. Many, in their self-righteousness, would first mourn, and then carry their mourning to God as a recommendation. But there is no sorrow genuine save that which flows directly from looking at the pierced one. What do we see in this pierced one that produces such a result?
(1.) We see infinite love. This melts the heart and draws tears from the eyes. It is love that is bleeding on that cross.
(2.) We see our own rejection of that love. We have long been rejecters, despisers of it. Our years of rejection come up before us and fill us with bitterness. What, so long despise such love!
(3.) We see suffering. It is suffering beyond all suffering of man. It is the suffering of love. The sufferer is love itself. He suffers because he loves. He loves and suffers!
(4.) We see that suffering caused by ourselves. We not only rejected the love, but we nailed the loving sufferer to the tree. This is sin; this is our sin. We are the murderers. We hated, mocked, nailed, slew. Oh,
What sin is ours;
and what must sin be!
Yet hear his voice,
"Look unto me,
and be ye saved!"