Monday after Exaudi
Scripture: Zechariah 13:7-9 (NKJV)
13:7 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,” says the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
8 “And it shall come to pass in all the land,” says the Lord, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it:
9 “I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
All of the Old Testament daily readings this week look forward to the day of Pentecost and beyond. But today’s verses take us first to Maundy Thursday and the garden of Gethsemane. And we stand in awe as we see God the Father Himself preparing the sword for His own dear Son, His eternal, only-begotten “Companion.” Jesus cited these verses as a prophecy about Himself and about how His disciples would scatter and flee when He, their Shepherd, was taken away by the armed guards on the night of His betrayal. And so they did.
But Jesus added a word of hope after predicting their abandonment: “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee” (Matt. 26:32). Just as the striking of the Shepherd and the abandonment of the disciples were a given, so was the resurrection, and the reconciliation of the apostles, and their commissioning to preach in Galilee.
Most of the inhabitants of Israel—indeed, most of the inhabitants of the world—would be cut off as they rejected the Gospel. But “one third,” according to Zechariah’s prophecy—a minority—would be preserved by preaching, a remnant of grace that would be refined by the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit.
Fire involves the burning away of the impurities that still cling to us, and that can be painful. But, as Peter points out in the first chapter of his first epistle, the purpose is not to harm, but to reveal the genuine faith that the Holy Spirit has created in us—the faith by which we know Christ Jesus as our Savior and as our God.
We pray: Father in Heaven, You called us by Your name in Holy Baptism. In every trial preserve us in the true faith by Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.