Zechariah’s remarkable prophecy (12:10) is quoted in today’s reading in John; he is completing his intimate account of the final hours of Jesus. The dying commission given to John by Jesus was to look after his mother. John and Jesus’ mother stood near the cross. John “the disciple whom he loved … took her to his own home” (19:26,27). As to the others “they all left him and fled” (Mark 14:50), apart from Peter and we know the tragedy of his denial.

Let’s consider the two Old Testament prophecies that John quotes as being fulfilled at this time. The first is that “not one of his bones will be broken”. This is an unexpected application of the Divine command to Moses that they were not to break the bones of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:46, reaffirmed in Numbers 9:12). Should we conclude that the purpose of the Passover had been fulfilled after the sacrifice of Jesus? Maybe not; the religious Jews still celebrate the Passover today. We believe the final awakening of its meaning for natural Israelites will happen in the future.

The other prophecy that John refers to is; “they will look on him whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10). This prediction of their looking “on him” surely 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).

Today God’s word and its wondrous Gospel are there for everyone to read! Will some say, ‘We had a Bible in our home and we read it occasionally’, as they seek that “spirit of grace” and make their “pleas for mercy”. Such cries could come from natural Jews and all who claim a relationship to him, indeed all those he sees as being accountable for judgement! In John 12 we read, “The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” – especially those who “do not receive my words” (verse 48). What will Christ see as your reaction to his word? Are we receiving it whole-heartedly, as many did in the book of Acts? As the hymn puts it – ‘We make the answer now’.