|Vol. 1, No. 3||Page 9||March 1999|
"Behold the Man . . ."
The Historical Background
It was characteristic of the prophets, as they were addressing the weaknesses of the nation, to sweep across the centuries, giving brilliant glimpses of the great Deliverer, the Messiah, and the glories that would adorn his administration. This feature was certainly common to Zechariah's writing.
In Chapter Six, after a series of visions involving colorful chariots, employed as symbols of various divine judgments, Joshua, the high priest, was adorned with "crowns" of silver and of gold. It was actually one crown (LXX) with dual circlets (Theo Laetsch, The Minor Prophets, St. Louis, Concordia, 1956, p. 438.). These were visual suggestions of the twofold nature of the Messiah's role (regal and priestly). It was within this context that the following prophecy was uttered.
Behold, the man whose name is Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build the temple of Jehovah; even he shall build the temple of Jehovah; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (6:12-13).Jewish opinion (e.g., the Aramaic Targum, the Jerusalem Talmud, and the Midrash) considered these passages to be messianic in thrust. There are six major points of emphasis in this narrative. Let us consider them.
Grow Up Out Of His Place
On the other hand, the expression may be a reference to Jesus' humble origin (Kenneth Barker, "Zechariah," The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Frank Gaebelein, ed., Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1985, p. 640), somewhat analogous to Isaiah's descriptive: "For he [Christ] grew up before him [Jehovah] as a tender root our of dry ground" (Isaiah 53:2). A "tender root" in "dry ground" represents a situation that seems unlikely to be productive, as humanly viewed. One cannot but think of the many circumstances associated with the Lord's life that defied all odds of success, e.g., the dangerous early years (Matthew 2:3ff), his youth in a despised city (Matthew 2:23; John 1:46), Jesus' lack of formal rabbinical training (John 7:15), his absence of wealth (2 Corinthians 8:9), etc. (For more concerning this, see the discussion of the Mustard Seed in my book, The Parables in Profile.) The significant point is this: He was ever under the watchful eye of his Father (Isaiah 53:2).
To Build Jehovah's Temple
The church is characterized as a temple because: (1) Just as God's presence was focused in the temple of Old Testament times (Exodus 25:22), so the church today is the "habitation of God" (Ephesians 2:22). The Lord does not promise that his benevolent presence will abide with those who refuse to obey the Gospel (2 Corinthians 6:16-18). (2) The temple was the place wherein sacrifices were offered to atone for sin. Today, those who constitute the living temple have been purified from their sins by the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:7), the true lamb of God (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19). (3) As the temple provided an appropriate environment for the exercise of divinely prescribed worship, even so, the church is authorized to offer the service of spiritual sacrifice to the Lord by means of regulated acts of worship (cf. Romans 12:1; Hebrews 1:15; John 4:24).
Branch To Bear The Glory
First, Jesus exists as the "effulgence" (ASV) or "brightness" (KJV) of the Father of glory. The Greek term apaugasma (to shine from) means "radiance." The RSV takes it in a passive sense, i.e., that Jesus was the "reflection" of God's glory; the ASV, supported by patristic evidence (Kittel, p. 87), suggests that Christ radiates the glory directly. Even in the days of his flesh, the glory of Jesus was manifest. John says that "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld [theaomai - careful and deliberate observation] his glory" (John 1:14).
Second, there is that glory the Lord was to receive upon his ascension back into heaven following the resurrection. In his intercessory prayer, Jesus petitioned that he might again be glorified with the glory which he shared with the Father before the world existed (John 17:5). To certain disciples, who were confused because the Savior had been killed, Jesus said: "Was it not necessary that the Christ suffer these things, and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26). Peter spoke of the sufferings of the Son of God and the "glories that should follow" (1 Peter 1:11; cf. 21). At the time of his ascension, Jesus was "received up into glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).
Third, thee is the glory that shall accompany Christ at the time of his return. "But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations . . ." (Matthew 25:31-32). The term "throne" here must not be confused with the mediatorial throne which the Savior began to occupy when he returned to heaven following his resurrection (Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:30ff; 1 Corinthians 15:25; 1 Peter 3:22). Rather, this is the throne of judgment at which point Jesus will be glorified universally. "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God" (Romans 14:11; cf. 2:5).
A Priest Upon His Throne
There are two matters worthy of further reflection at this point. This context, which shows that Jesus would be a priest while upon his throne, is devastating to the dogma of premillennialism--the notion that the Lord's reign was postponed when he was rejected by the Jews, and is to be implemented at the time of the Second Coming. Note these points:
(1) The Bible makes it clear that that Christ cannot function as priest while on earth (Hebrews 8:4). But he is to be a priest upon his throne (Zechariah 6:13). Therefore, his throne could not be on earth.These are consequences of the false notion of premillennialism.
Acceptance Of The Gentles
When, therefore, Pilate sarcastically introduced Jesus with: "Behold, the man!"--he said far more than he knew. "Behold, the man!"--indeed!
[This excellent article first appeared in the pages of brother Jackson's journal, Christian Courier (December 1998), and we appreciate his permission to employ his articles from time to time in Gospel Gazette Online. We heartily recommend Christian Courier and brother Jackson's books. He also sells a variety of useful biblical books by other authors. Please visit Wayne Jackson's webpages at http://www.christiancourier.com. Subscription to the printed journal, Christian Courier, is a mere $5 per year. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]