Christmas letter: The Prince of Peace with a Double Crown
By Matthew Roberts, 22 Dec 2016
Dear brothers and sisters at Trinity Church York
Zechariah hardly comes top of the list of most Christians’ favourite parts of the Bible at Christmas time. But I chose it for our Christmas sermon series because it is so wonderfully clear about Jesus. Now ‘clear’ might not be what most people would think about the book: it’s full of visions which to us read at first sight as being very odd indeed.
But that is the glory of this book. It teaches by giving us a series of spectacular word-pictures, which are unforgettable in their strangeness and because of that make incredibly clear and memorable points. They’re like brilliant youtube adverts which are so visually striking and surprising that they manage to make their point even in the five seconds you have to watch before clicking to skip them.
And all of them point ultimately to one thing: God is going to send a Messiah, an anointed one, someone specially chosen and appointed by God, to rescue his people. Peter preached last Sunday on the vision of the oil-fired lampstand apparently permanently plumbed by a network of pipes into its fuel supply in the form of two olive trees. Weird? Yes. Clear? Yes – God is planning to send a king, and a priest, and it is only through that coming king and the coming priest that he will rescue anyone. Humanity has no hope left to itself, but God is sending a rescuer. Look anywhere else and we will end up with no hope. We will fizzle out like a lamp with no fuel supply. But look to God’s priest and God’s king, and there is real, solid, eternal hope. He, when he comes, will be an eternal source of forgiveness, justice, goodness, life and light for all who will receive him.
That is what we’re celebrating this Christmas. God has sent his Son, chosen and anointed to be the only source of light to humanity. Without him we would have no hope; with him we have hope forever. We celebrate because in this one man, God's Son in human flesh, God has stepped into our world to bring eternal life, where there would only otherwise be inevitable. In him we have a hope no-one else has. In his birth the world changed from hopeless darkness to a certainty of eternal light, under his reign, forever.
On Christmas day we’ll be looking at the pinnacle of Zechariah’s book: 6:9-15. It’s about how God’s anointed one, when he comes, will get to wear two hats. Two crowns, in fact. For he combines two God-given jobs in one, and that is why he alone can and will bring peace to the entire world. If you can join us, we’d love to see you. If you can’t, then have a wonderful Christmas Day, wherever you are. And why not read this passage on Christmas Day and see if you can work out Zechariah’s word-picture for yourself.
May God bless you all as you celebrate the birth of God’s anointed one, the double-crowned, eternal-life-bringing Prince of Peace.
With my love and prayers