Strike The Shepherd

In Mark 14:27 (below), Jesus confirms that this prophecy from Zechariah 13:7b was written for Him. Jesus tells the disciples that all of them will stumble and abandon Him, because God said that this would happen. Since Zechariah is speaking of the Messiah in this prophecy, and Jesus’ fulfillment of Zechariah is clear, these facts leave us with only one conclusion; Jesus is the Messiah whom God promised.

Before Jesus came to Jerusalem as the Messiah, He knew—that upon His arrest and sentence to die, all of His disciples would be “scattered.” Although these men understood that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, they show us just how fragile our faith can be sometimes. In that important moment at the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus needed His friends the most, they were not able stay awake and pray with Him, nor comfort Him in His greatest hour of distress. When Jesus was arrested, the men who had firmly stated that they were willing to die for Him, scattered and hid themselves in fear for their lives.

Old Testament Prediction:

As a result of the Messiah’s death, His followers will be scattered.

Zechariah 13:7b “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.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Mark 14:27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’ ”

Luke 22:54-57 Having arrested Jesus, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

Matthew 26:55-56 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

After Jesus was resurrected and appeared to His disciples; instructing them to wait for “the promise of the Father,” these former cowards became great men of strength and courage. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, all of the Apostles, including Paul, stood with great boldness and conviction as they were certain of Jesus resurrection.[1] These men were willing to die horrible deaths themselves, rather than deny Jesus or the fact that He had risen from the dead.

Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ a hoax?

Let us suppose for a moment that in Jerusalem, 2,000 years ago, a group of 12 men determined that they would create a new religion. The reasons for their scheme are simple: to become rich, gain power over other men, and receive great acclaim and public adulation. This new religion will have, as its central figure, a man who is said to contain the Spirit of the Living God. He will be killed and then on the third day, He will be raised to life.

First, we must understand—apart from the precision that would be required to make such claims believable, they would have to demonstrate how all of the things their Messiah says and does would be understood as a fulfillment of all the Old Testament predictions which describe a coming Messiah. What many people forget when they are evaluating whether Jesus Christ actually lived, died, and rose from the dead is the fact that someone just like Him was predicted by over four-hundred Old Testament prophecies.

We not only have a man who claimed to die for the sins of the world and was raised on the third day, we have a man who fulfilled over four-hundred predictions that describe—in great detail, where He would be born, what He will say and do, and specifically; how He will die at the hands of evil men—crucified and raised to life three days later.

The chances that any one person could fulfill all of the prophecies listed in this book is in excess of 10999.[2] This is a number, greater than all of the atoms and subatomic particles of all matter in the entire universe.[3]

How far would a person go in making a lie appear true?

Let us suppose that these 12 men were able to make their Messiah fit the precise requirements of these Old Testament prophecies.

What these men could not foresee was the hatred of the Roman government for this new religion they had founded, which was viewed as a direct threat to the sovereignty of the Roman Caesar. All 12 men would be vigorously persecuted and placed under the sentence of death; unless, of course, they would recant their belief in this Savior—whom they had fabricated, and admit that He did not raise from the dead.

Now I cannot speak for these 12 men, but I know something of myself and the nature of most other men. There may be a few who might be willing to continue in a lie for a time; but when it came to the moment that either the lie had to end or their life, there is no question what most people would choose. Does anyone really believe that all 12 of the Apostles would be willing to die for a lie that was contrived about Jesus as the Savior, if it was not true? The odds of this occurring in all 12 men simultaneous with the threat of their death—a certainty—if they did not recant the resurrection, is astronomical. Not one of these men stopped the executioner and recanted their story that Jesus had risen from the dead. All 12 men died with the firm conviction and loud proclamation that Jesus had died on a Roman cross and then rose again on the third day. The four gospels record the fact that all of the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection were predicted and written in the Old Testament scriptures—and were fulfilled with precision.

Sidebar: These facts are also supported by the secular records of both the Romans and the Jews. Jesus, and His disciples—are vigorously described by writers who were quite hostile and unsympathetic to this new Christian religion. Although their accounts were not supportive of Jesus as the Son of God—their record of His life and death are third party corroborations—from the historical record—that Jesus is a genuine person from history.

The Disciples abandoned Jesus

Despite the amazing things that Jesus said and did—when He needed His friends the most, they were nowhere to be found.

Before we condemn the disciples for their unfaithfulness, let us consider that we are all exactly the same; unreliable, unfaithful, and often unavailable to our Lord on many occasions. Jesus knows exactly what we are like, and He understands that we do not have the capacity to be consistently faithful.

John 2:24-25 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

The Lord knows us all so well, and yet He still loves us. He understands our frame and that we are made from dust, and still He allows us to serve Him. We receive unending mercy for every sin and grace that always abides with us, no matter how often we fail. When our shepherd was struck; all those who had committed their lives to Him—scattered. Jesus knew that this would happen; and He knows today that in many of the moments of our life, we are frightened, without faith, and quickly scatter.

If you are like me, then you know that keeping the Lord first in our life is a difficult proposition. Not that we don’t love Him so dearly and are ever mindful of the great sacrifice that He has made for us—the fact remains: when we are called-on to stand firm and trust Him, we often fail, grumble and complain; and we do not give Him the faithful, steadfast confidence that He deserves.

Despite our frail human condition—when we stray, He comes to find us. When we are in trouble, He comes to rescue us and fix our mistakes. There is no place, no difficulty that we can get ourselves into, where Jesus cannot come and find us when we scatter, far from Him.

Matthew 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?

If you become lost, know that the Shepherd will come and find you. He will pick you up and take you back to the sheepfold; where He will care for and restore you to fellowship with Him.

In the tradition of the shepherds of the Old Testament, it is said that when a shepherd found a sheep who had continually strayed from the shepherd; when the shepherd would find him, he would break the front leg of the wayward sheep. He would then bind up the broken leg and lift up the sheep onto his back, carrying him until the leg healed. In the process of being so close to the shepherd for an extended period of time, the sheep would fall in love with the shepherd. After his leg was completely healed—this sheep would never again stray from his shepherd.[4] It was with this illustration in mind, that the prophet Ezekiel wrote:

Ezekiel 34:16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick…”

Hosea wrote a similar verse that speaks of those who have strayed from the Lord. Even though the Shepherd may sometime have to “tear,” He will also “bind us up.”

Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

The fact that this Prophecy of the Old Testament is directed specifically at Jesus as the Messiah, it is seen in the New Testament reference of Mark’s gospel.

Zechariah 13:7: “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered…”

Mark 14:27: “for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered…’ ”

How could forty authors contrive a story in which they were seeking to create a new religion by a charismatic new leader, when the story includes the abandonment of this leader by the first men who began to follow Him?

This story is not only recounted for us in the pages of the Old Testament, it is predicted nearly seven hundred years before the event took place.

This internal evidence of the Bible, concerning the presence of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem; fulfilling over four-hundred ancient predictions, is compelling evidence for the authenticity of the gospel’s claims about Jesus.

[1] Acts 1:4
[2] Based on the calculations of Dr. Peter Stoner, and carrying the method Dr. Stoner used, in application to these 400 Prophecies. See the book by Dr. Peter Stoner, “Science Speaks”, for details.
[3] The total number of all sub atomic particles in the universe as calculated by Sir Roger Penrose, Mathematical Physicist, 10 to the 123rd power. Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, Pages 762-765
[4] Paraphrased from Robert Boyd Munger, “What Jesus Says, The Master Teacher and Life’s Problems”, Chapter 5, “What Jesus says about Suffering and Evil”, Page 69, 1955 by Fleming H. Revell, Company, Westwood, New York