Zechariah 6:13
Behold.

I. THE COMING MAN OF THE AGES. "Branch." Lowliness, and yet dignity. The heathens fabled that the Titans were sons of heaven and earth. Here is what they vainly imagined. "Grew up." Natural development. Perfection of humanity. Long the cry was, "He cometh." We see his shadow in every sacrifice. Find his presence in every prophecy. Hear his footfall in every promise. He was the Hope of Israel, and the Desire of all nations.

II. CHARGED WITH THE NOBLEST MISSION. "Build" - personally and instrumentally. Many whom he honours as "fellow workers." Temple slowly rising. Grandeur and beauty gradually unfolding. Implies the union and fellowship of men as "living stones" in the great temple of humanity.

III. DESTINED FOR THE GRANDEST EMPIRE. "The glory."

1. Priest. Power with God. "Forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

2. King. Power with men. The rule of righteousness and love.

3. The recompose of his sufferings. "Sit and rule." First the cross, then the crown (cf. Hebrews 10:12, 13; 1 Peter 1:11).

IV. DESIGNATED FOR IMMORTAL HONOUR. Heaven is the perfect state. What do we see there? Let St. John declare (Revelation 5:6). Even on earth, what honour to Christ! Every day, and especially on the Lord's day, what prayers in his Name! what offerings to his praise and glory! In how many lands, by what various voices, with what measureless love, is his name breathed forth! "Behold the Man!" Let each heart answer, with adoring gratitude and joy, "My Lord and my God!" - F.







A Priest upon His throne
It is in accordance with the law of prophetic development from the beginning that the external circumstances of the nation at the moment should supply the mould into which the promise is run. Here, the kingless band of exiles are heartened for their task by the thought of the Priest-King of the nation, the Builder of an imperishable dwelling place for God.

I. THE TRUE HOPE OF THE WORLD IS A PRIEST. The idea of priesthood is universal. It has been distorted and abused; it has been made the foundation of spiritual tyranny. The priest has not been the teacher nor the elevator of the people. Yet there the office stands, and wherever men go, by some strange perversity they take with them this idea, and choose from among themselves some who shall discharge for their brethren the double office of representing them before God, and of representing God to them. That is what the world means, with absolute and entire unanimity, by a priest — one who shall be Sacrificer, intercessor, representative; bearer of man's worship, channel of God's blessing. This is the result of the universal consciousness of sin. Men feel that there is a gulf between them and God. The Jewish people, who have at all events taught the world the purest theism, and led men up to the most spiritual religion, had this same institution of a priesthood for the very centre of its worship. What is the priest whom men crave? The first requisite is oneness with those whom he represents. We have a Priest "in all things made like unto His brethren." The next requisite is that the priests should possess, at all events, a symbolic purity — expression of the conviction that a priest must be cleaner and closer than his fellows. And we have a Priest; who is "holy, harmless, undefiled." And again, as in nature and character, so in function, Christ corresponds to the widely expressed wants of men, as shown in their priesthoods. They sought for one who should offer gifts and sacrifices on their behalf. They sought for one who should pass into the awful Presence, and plead for them while they stood without. They sought for a man who should be the medium of Divine blessings bestowed upon the worshippers, and we know who hath gone within the veil for us. "We have great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God."

II. THE PRIEST OF THE WORLD IS THE KING OF MEN. "He shall be a Priest upon His throne." In Israel these two offices were jealously kept apart. The history of the world is full of instances in which the struggles of the temporal and spiritual power have caused calamities only less intolerable than those which flowed from that alliance of priests and kings which has so often made monarchy a grinding tyranny, and religion a mere instrument of statecraft. Our Priest does rule. The "kingdom of Christ" is no unreal fanciful phrase. The foundation of His rule is His sacrifice. Men will do anything for him who does that for them. His rule is wielded in gentleness. Priestly dominion has ever been fierce, suspicious, tyrannous. The sway of this merciful and faithful High Priest is full of tenderness. The end of His rule is, that His subjects may be made free in obedience.

III. THE PRIEST-KING OF MEN BUILDS AMONG MEN THE TEMPLE OF GOD. Christ is Himself the true temple of God. Christ builds the temple. Christ builds this temple because He is the temple. By His incarnation and work He makes our communion with God and God's dwelling in us possible. Christ builds the temple, and uses us as His servants in the work. Christ builds on through all the ages, and the prophecy of the text is yet unfulfilled. Its fulfilment is the meaning and end of all history. In one of the mosques of Damascus, which has been a Christian Church, and before that was a heathen temple, the portal bears, deep cut in Greek characters, the inscription, "Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations." Those words are graven over the temple which Christ rears.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. NOTICE THIS SIGNIFICANT DESIGNATION OF THE LORD JESUS — "The Branch." The family of David was like a decayed tree, the stump of which alone remains; but from so lowly and unlikely an origin, a shoot or scion would emanate, which would again become a noble forest tree, and perpetuate the memory and influence of the royal line. Certainly David's race had reached a low ebb when Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, because they were of the house and lineage of David. Through a branch the fulness of the root is carried to the fruit, which swells in ruddy beauty on its extremity, and presently falls into the hand of the wayfarer: so Jesus is the blessed channel of communication between the fulness of God and the thirsty wastes of human need.

II. THE COMBINATION IN CHRIST OF THE PRIESTLY AND KINGLY OFFICES. "He shall be a Priest upon His throne." Man's nature demands a priest. Conscious of sin and defilement, he rears an altar wherever he pitches his tent; and, selecting one of his fellows, he separates him from the ordinary duties of life, and bids him stand as mediator and priest between God and himself. It was thus that Micah addressed the young man, the Levite of Bethlehem-Judah, when he said, "Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and priest; and I will give thee ten pieces of silver by the year, and thine apparel, and thy victuals." If an argument were needed to prove the unity of the human family, it surely would be suggested by the universal distribution of temples and altars over the world, as though men were everywhere alike in this — that they know themselves to be sinful, and desire to find some way of propitiating and approaching the Almighty. In the Levitical system, and, above all, in Jesus Christ, God has met this universal craving of the human heart. Man also requires a king. God had designed to meet this need by Him self being Israel's King, that they should not be "like other nations," but a peculiar people unto Him. How remarkable it is that the Kingship of Jesus should have been so accentuated in His trial! It was the centre around which the storm raged. Pilate challenged His claims: "Art Thou a king, then?" and Jesus asseverated them: "Thou sayest that I am — a king." The faded purple robe flung over His shoulders, the reed in His hand, the mocking bending of the knee, the crown of thorns on His brow, were but the grotesque and heartless mockery of His claims. And since He has passed into the glory, He is still the Priest-King. Not Aaron, but Melchizedek, is the true type of our Saviour now. As Aaron, He made atonement and propitiation for sin; but as Melchizedek, He has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. "This Melchizedek was king of Salem, and priest of the Most High God." As priest, Jesus pleads the merit of His blood; as king, He exerts power on our behalf. As priest, He pacifies the guilty conscience; as king, He sends thrills of His own victorious life into our spirits. As priest, He brings us nigh to God; as king, He treads our enemies under His feet. It is of great importance to us all to think of our Saviour in this dual aspect. On the one hand, we get all the benefit of His cross and passion; on the other, all the benefit of His resurrection and session at the right hand of God. May it not be that the weakness of thy Christian life is due to the fact that thou hast viewed Him only in the light of Calvary, and hast not, with Stephen, seen Him seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High — a prince as well as a Saviour — a Saviour because a prince? He accounts Himself absolutely responsible to achieve the uttermost salvation of those who trust in Him. If there is some sin which defies thee, at least it shall not be too strong for Him. And if the outflow of His delivering power towards thee seems restrained and ineffective, be sure that, in some one particular, which He will be quick to show thee, if only thou art willing to be informed, there has been a failure to yield Him the obedience which is due to Him as thy king.

III. AS THE PRIEST-KING, CHRIST BUILDS THE TEMPLE OF GOD. Twice over this is affirmed; but what untold comfort the assurance must have brought when first addressed to that little band of exiles! Their temple site was strewn with ruins: it seemed almost hopeless to contend with those heaps of rubbish, impossible to rear a fabric worthy of the past and adequate for the future; but these words must have greatly heartened them. As the hand of inspiration drew aside the vail, they beheld another and greater than either Joshua or Zerubbabel, working with them and for them, and bearing the chief responsibility in all the toils and labours of their new erection — He; not they. They would work with new energy and courage, knowing, as they did, that they were fellow workers with God. What difficulty could daunt, what enemies thwart or frustrate, the work of His right hand? If these words should be read by any who are losing heart because of the difficulties presented by their parish, their church, or the souls of their charge, let them be reassured, as they behold the trowel in the hands of the Priest-King; and let them be sure that He will succeed.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

As the enthroned king, Jesus reigns over His church as the vicegerent of God. He as king reigns over the intellects, the hearts, the wills, the bodies of all who yield allegiance to Him. He distributes to all His people the gifts of God according to His will. At His hand every good and perfect gift must be sought, and from His hand received. He giveth gifts to men through the power of His delegated authority received from the triune God. He is the true Joseph reigning over the kingdom of the true Pharaoh. As Pharaoh raised Joseph from his prison, and made him ruler over all the land of Egypt, so the eternal Father has raised Jesus from His cross and tomb to enthrone Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies. As Pharaoh's commission to Joseph was "Thou shalt be over my house, and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled," so Christ is revealed to us as being over God's house as its delegated king. As Pharaoh's gifts were distributed by Joseph to the needy Egyptians, so God's good gifts of grace come to us through the kingly ministry of Jesus. It is from Jesus seated on the throne of grace as the priest upon His throne that we are bidden to seek pardoning mercy and aiding grace in every time of need. This revelation of Jesus as being the giver of grace as Heaven's enthroned king, is one that does not receive the recognition it demands. This is of course a necessity in all those theological systems in which the continuous priestly ministry of our ascended Lord is denied or ignored. But even where His ministry of priestly intercession is recognised He is not seen to be the priest sitting on His throne. That all the blessings of the kingdom of the incarnation come to us through His intercession is confessed. But men fall to see that these blessings are given to us by Him as the bountiful king of that kingdom. Nay, not unfrequently men shrink in dread from the statement that every good and perfect gift coming from the Father of Light is given to us not only by the hand, but according to the will, of the ascended Lord. Yet unless this truth be grasped Jesus' mediatorial ministry is not fully confessed. That He is the mediator of the new covenant is a matter of faith. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Now His mediation means that through Him, "the Word made flesh," we draw nigh to God in worship and God's gifts of grace come to us. This truth does not involve the idea that God has ceased person. ally to reign and to give gifts. The recognition of Jesus' delegated sovereignty does not involve the denial of God's essential sovereignty as an ever-living fact. When by Pharaoh's authority Joseph ruled Egypt this was not the virtual abdication of his power by Pharaoh; nay, it was the strengthening of his dynasty and the perfecting of his rule. Between him and Joseph there was perfect oneness of conviction as to the policy to be adopted in that crisis of his nation's life. In raising Joseph to his high position, and giving him liberty of action, he was but carrying out in the most effective way the policy his own wisdom approved. So the enthronement of Jesus as man, as king of the Church, is not the dethronement of God. For the sovereignty of the Son of Man is a delegated sovereignty, and its glory must exalt the throne of Him whose delegate He is. The wisdom and the love of the only Potentate is revealed in the king He has enthroned. And still more is this seen to be true when we remember the absolute union of thought and action that there is between them. What our King hears He speaks. "What the Father doeth that doeth the Son likewise." In an union so close there is no place for conflict of action or variance of will. Not by constraint but by union Jesus in His delegated sovereignty rules according to the will of God. He is a throned king, and gives His gifts according to His own free will. But even in His free rule He is the minister of the Father's pleasure because of His absolute conformity with the will of God. With full assent of mind then grasp the truth of Jesus' delegated sovereignty. See Him throned by God in the Church as the giver of His supernatural gifts. See in the revelation of Jesus as enthroned in Heaven, and hence ruling over His Church in Paradise and on earth, the fulfilment of Zechariah's glorious vision. Gazing by faith on Jesus at God's right hand, in Him, "Behold the Man whose name is the Branch," who has "built the temple of the Lord," and who in it "bears the glory," and "as a priest upon His throne" sits and rules.

(G. Body, M. A.)

There are three.

1. The office of a prophet. He builds the Church by the Word of the Gospel, which it is His work to promulgate as a prophet.

2. The office of a priest. To expiate the sins of His people, to purchase peace for them, and to manage their cause with God.

3. That of a king: for He has a throne, which denotes His kingly office. He is "a priest upon His throne," denoting the reward of His sufferings. In Him the glory of all these offices is to meet. The text affords foundation for the following doctrine — Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of prophet, priest, and king, both in His estate of humiliation and exaltation.

I. THE VERITY OR REALITY OF THESE OFFICES IN CHRIST.

1. From plain scripture testimony.

(1)To His having or being possessed of these offices.

(2)To His executing these offices.

2. From His name Christ, or Messiah, the anointed one. The unction signified —

(1)His being set apart to the mediatory work.

(2)His being fully furnished with gifts and qualifications suitable to these offices, in respect of His human nature, to which the Spirit was given, not by measure, but in fulness.

II. THE NECESSITY OF HIS EXERCISING THESE OFFICES. This will be clear if we —

1. Consider our misery by sin, ignorance, guilt, and bondage. We were ignorant of the way of returning to God again; and therefore Christ as our prophet must teach us; our priest must make atonement for us; our king must bring us back again, leading captivity captive.

2. Consider the salvation which the elect were to be made partakers of.

3. Consider Christ as mediator of the covenant, who behoved to deal with both parties, in order to bring them together.

4. Consider the work of conversion; what the soul needs.

5. Consider our daily necessities.

6. Consider the promises, which are the stay and staff of the Christian's life, without which they could never bear up.

III. WHEN DID CHRIST EXECUTE THESE OFFICES? As He was the Redeemer of the Church in all ages so did He execute these offices in all ages of the Church. But more especially after His incarnation, and that in His twofold state of humiliation and exaltation. These three offices are not to be divided, especially when they are executed in a way that is effectual for the salvation of the subjects thereof. Wherever He executes one of these offices in a saving way, He executes them all. Inferences —

1. How great and glorious is our Lord Jesus Christ, who was meet to bear all these offices at once, and exercise them at once, so as one does not mar or clash with another!

2. Let this commend Christ to you as a full and a suitable Saviour.

3. You cannot take Christ as a Redeemer, if you take Him not in all His offices.

4. Employ this mighty Redeemer in all the offices wherewith He is invested, and which, as mediator, He exercises for the benefit of the ruined race of mankind.

(T. Boston, D. D.).

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