I looked up and saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then I asked, "Where are you going?" He answered, "To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length."
Then the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him and said to him, "Run, say to that young man: Jerusalem shall be inhabited like villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and animals in it. For I will be a wall of fire all around it, says the Lord, and I will be the glory within it."
"Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst," says the Lord. "Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you."
O nations, hear the word of the Lord,
proclaim it to the far-off coasts.
Say: 'He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and guard him as a shepherd guards his flock.' (R./)
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,
has saved him from an overpowering hand.
They will come and shout for joy on Mount Zion,
they will stream to the blessings of the Lord. (R./)
Then the young girls will rejoice and will dance,
the men, young and old, will be glad.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console them, give gladness for grief. (R./)
While everyone was amazed at all that Jesus was doing, he said to his disciples, "Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands." But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
The vision of Zechariah is from the early part of the prophecy. Such visions helped strengthen the people’s sense of identity when times were bleak, and during the early post-exilic period the temple was still in ruins, the people of Jerusalem were dismayed and their high priest Joshua was clad in filthy rags (Zech 3:3). But Zechariah believed a new day was dawning. He dreams of a better future and of such peace for Jerusalem that no walls are needed, with the glory of the Lord at its centre.
Zechariah teaches us not to be too gloomy or pessimistic. Each sorrow can be transformed into a reason for hope. In God’s name he says, "I will favour Jerusalem and the house of Judah; do not fear." Then he lays out some basic moral guidelines: "Speak the truth to each other; let there be honesty and peace in your judgments." He combined visions with earthy practicality, for he was a moral reformer.
Likewise, Jesus was preparing himself and his disciples for hard times ahead, when he would be handed over to his enemies. If the disciples failed to understand this, it was because they were unwilling to hear it. They would not ask about it, in case he repeated what they feared he had said. But he warned them again as they approached Jerusalem. Hope for resurrection must also face the stern reality of death. Like Zechariah, Jesus had a vision that sustained him through the bleakness of life, to reach the promised land.
Praise and admiration from others can be fickle. It can be there one day and gone the next, and Jesus was aware of this. Sometimes the crowd was cheering for him. But at the very height of his celebrity he warned, "the Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men." Jesus was not seeking celebrity, but to do God’s will, to complete his mission. Therefore he had to go up to Jerusalem, dangerous as it was, because that city too needed to hear the goods news of God’s grace.
The life of Jesus invites us to ask ourselves, "What really drives us?" Is it the need for recognition by others, or is it something deeper? We need to make Jesus’ desires and priorities our own, to be about the Father’s business, to keep sharing in God’s work, in keeping with our station in life. Then we will know not just the satisfaction of human approval but the deeper joy that comes from fitting in with God’s purpose for our lives.