For centuries both Jewish and Christian readers of the Bible have found in Zechariah’s book numerous references to the Messiah and messianic times.
Christians, of course, have understood that these passages apply to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ: the triumphant yet peaceful King (Zech. 9:9), the One who was pierced (Zech. 12:10), the Shepherd who was struck down (Zech. 13:7).
In Zechariah 13:7-9 the prophet is shown a scene in which the sword of the Lord’s judgment goes out against the Good Shepherd. On a previous occasion the prophet saw the sword being raised against a “worthless shepherd” (Zech. 11:17, NIV). But here in this passage the Good Shepherd is struck, and the flock becomes scattered. His death results in a great trial and testing of God’s people, during which some perish; yet, all of the faithful are refined.
Read Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. How did Jesus apply this prophecy to that which was going to happen that night? More important, what should that whole incident, that of the disciples fleeing in the face of adversity (see Matt. 26:56 and Mark 14:50), teach us about the faithfulness of God in contrast to human unfaithfulness?
The image of God as a shepherd is found in many places in the Bible. It begins with the book of Genesis (Gen. 48:15, NIV) and ends with Revelation (Rev. 7:17). Through Ezekiel, God rebuked the irresponsible shepherds of His people and promised to search for the lost sheep and take care of them. Applying these words to Himself, Jesus declared that He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).
Think of times in which you have been unfaithful to the Lord. Despite that, how does He continue to show you mercy and grace? What must be your response be to that mercy and grace?