Zechariah’s remarkable prophecy is quoted today in John 19. John is completing his intimate account of Jesus’ final hours and his dying commission to John to look after his mother. The two of them stood near the cross. John “the disciple whom he loved … took her to his own home” (verses 26,27). The others “all left him and fled” (Mark 14:50), apart from Peter – and we know well the tragedy of his denial.

Note the two Old Testament prophecies that John quotes as being fulfilled. The first is that “not one of his bones will be broken”. This is an unexpected application of the command to Moses that Israel was not to break the bones of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:46, reaffirmed in Numbers 9:12). Should we conclude that the Passover had its purpose fulfilled after the sacrifice of Jesus? Maybe not. Religious Jews still celebrate Passover today and perhaps its final meaning for natural Israel is still to happen.

The other prophecy that John refers to is Zechariah 12:10; “they will look on him whom they have pierced”. This prediction to their looking on him applies to when Jesus returns. The complete prophecy is, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn …”

At Christ’s return, those who caused him to be pierced will need to be there. At the resurrection some of these will receive the “spirit of grace” as they make “pleas for mercy”! We serve a merciful God. But tragically there will be anguish for some, for Jesus had warned, “When once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock … you will begin to say, We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets. But he will say … Depart from me … there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out” (Luke 13:25-28).