“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: HE IS JUST, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass” (Zech. 9:9).
When this writer was young, there was a trendy catch phrase among young people that some of you may still remember: Here comes the judge! Drawn from a skit on a popular television comedy show, this phrase could be found on many a poster hanging on many a teenager’s wall back in the day. Never having seen the show, we have no idea what it meant, but the phrase comes to mind every time we read the above text. A clear prediction of the Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew quoted these words the day He entered Jerusalem on a colt just days before His crucifixion:
“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass” (Matt. 21:5).
It is always interesting to see the way in which the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament. When this writer taught hermeneutics (how to interpret the Bible) at Berean Bible Institute, an entire chapter of the textbook was dedicated to the subject of New Testament quotations of Old Testament texts. While many theologians find the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament to be problematic in many cases, we taught the students that there is often a doctrinal significance to the changes and omissions found in these quotations, and we believe that Matthew’s citation of Zechariah’s words here is no exception.
Did you notice that in Matthew’s quotation, the words “He is just, and having salvation” are conspicuous by their absence? We feel this omission was purposeful on Matthew’s part, and instructive on our part. You see, at the time Zechariah made his prophecy, there was no doubt in his mind that when the day came for the Lord to fulfill this prophecy, He would be “just,” and yet “having salvation.” The prophet didn’t yet understand how a holy God could give salvation to sinful men and still be “just,” but his trust in God was implicit. He knew that God would never be so unjust as to sweep the sins of men under the rug, and sneak them in the back door of the kingdom of heaven when the devil wasn’t looking.
The Apostle Peter spoke about this very thing in his first epistle. Speaking of the salvation of souls (I Pet. 1:9), Peter added,
“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently…” (v. 10).
Peter then went on to make it clear that the prophets did not understand the glory that would follow the sufferings of Christ (v. 11), and that this glory would include the glorious way that God dealt with the sins of men by having His Son pay for their sins with His death on Calvary’s Cross. These were some of the things that, as Peter says here, “the angels desire to look into” (v. 12).
Angels love to learn about the Almighty and all of His ways (Eph. 3:10), and we believe that in Old Testament times, they were as clueless as Zechariah and the rest of the prophets as to how the Lord could be “just, and having salvation.” We feel their angelic curiosity about this was symbolized by the cherubim that overlooked the ark of the covenant. As they looked down at the mercy seat below their outstretched wings, they no doubt wondered how the blood of the bulls and goats that was sprinkled there could justly take away the sins of men.
On the day of our Lord’s “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem, it was clear to Matthew that Zechariah’s prophecy was being fulfilled. His Messiah was indeed meek and lowly enough to enter the city of the great king sitting astride a baby donkey. What was not yet clear to him, however, was how He could be “just, and having salvation.” We feel that this was the reason he purposely omitted that segment of the prophecy from his quotation.
It was the Apostle Paul who broke the story of how God could be “just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Speaking of Christ, Paul revealed:
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins…” (Rom. 3:24,25).
Whenever we use our leafblower to sweep the front porch, we never have to lift the welcome mat. The tremendous blast of air from the leafblower is powerful enough to levitate the mat as it blows away all the dust and debris beneath and around it. This always makes us think of how, rather than sweeping our sins under the rug, the Lord Jesus
Christ blew them away at the Cross on which He shed His blood!
And so it is, if you keep Paul’s revelation in mind, you can just picture the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem on that fateful day, and say with Zechariah: “Here comes the Just!”
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.