The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists/Part 16

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©{{{copyright}}}
Zechariah 12:10—Who Is Jehovah, “the One They Have Pierced” for Whom Jerusalem and All the Nation of Israel Will Weep and Mourn?

Editor’s Note: This material was first published in book form in 1989 by the John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association (now known as the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute).

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The Biblical Text

And I will pour out on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of prayers. And they shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only son, and they shall be bitter over Him, as one that is in bitterness over the firstborn. (Zech. 12:10, emphasis added)

The Context of the Passage

This text says God will pour out His Spirit on Israel and bring them to a painful understanding sometime in the future. What will they understand? This is one of the most amazing statements given by God in Scripture. He says, “[They] will look on me, the one they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child….” The question is, who is this One that Israel will look on and begin to mourn?

The Explanation of the Text

Zechariah is relating the words of Jehovah God, who says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced.” Jehovah Himself claims to be the One Israel has pierced. When did Israel pierce Jehovah?

In the middle of the statement, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him,” the pronouns are significantly changed. They refer to different persons. What was at first a reference to Jehovah, now becomes a reference to an unidentified “him” for whom the entire nation of Israel will mourn. Delitzsch and Gloag explain: The great difficulty in this passage is occasioned by the change in the pronouns; it is said, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him”, as if two persons were spoken of—the one, the Lord, whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have pierced; and the other, some unknown person, whose death the inhabitants of Jerusalem lament.[1]

They further comment: Some endeavor to escape the Messianic application of the prediction by supposing that the word “pierced” is to be taken in a metaphorical sense,… But it is doubtful if the word can be taken in this… sense; it denotes “to thrust through,” “to pierce as with a spear.” Besides, the mourning here is expressed as the mourning for the dead: One “mourning for his only son, and in bitterness for his first born,…”[2]

Because of this passage, certain questions must be answered. They are: (1) If the Hebrew word for “to pierce,” is “to thrust through, to slay by death,”[3] when did Israel slay Jehovah? And how could the Creator of the heaven and the earth be slain by men? And when was this done?

Zechariah says Israel will someday realize they have killed Him—Jehovah, and will begin to mourn over Him as a family would mourn over the death of their only son.

This prophecy only fits Jesus Christ. Why? Jesus Christ is the only One who ever claimed to be God, claimed to be the Messiah, and was crucified by the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Jews in the New Testament recognized only Jesus fit the words of this verse. The Apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:1, 14). Jesus Christ was the very incarnation of God.

The Apostle Paul believed Jesus was God and that He volunteered to die for our sins. Paul taught, “Who [Jesus], being in very nature God,… made Him self nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,… And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8).

The Apostle Peter must have been thinking of Zechariah’s prophecy when on Pentecost he said, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ [Messiah]” (Acts 2:36).

Related to this, some wrongly teach that only the Jewish people are responsible for crucifying the Messiah. Apparently, they have not read where the New Testament Scriptures record, “Indeed, Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed” (Acts 4:27). Both Jew and Gentile, all of us, are equally guilty of crucifying Christ. Also, Jesus, being God, volunteered to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. His death was for each one of us. In a real sense, all of our sins put Him there.

But let us ask, who else but Jesus Christ could the Prophet Zechariah be speaking about? Who else could possibly be Jehovah, and also claim to be thrust through and killed by the inhabitants of Jerusalem? Remember, the word “pierce” is a word which means “to pierce as with a spear.”[4] This is exactly what happened to Jesus on the cross. A spear was thrust through His side (Jn. 19:32-35).

Finally, it says that the entire nation will mourn and grieve bitterly over the death of this One who has been pierced, “as one mourns for an only child.” Would the Jewish people mourn for this One as for the death of their only son, if He weren’t actually one of their Jewish sons—as Jesus Christ was?

What if the Jewish people someday come to recognize, after all these centuries of rejecting Him, that Jesus really was their Messiah? What if they come to understand who He really is? What if they someday look upon Him as God, “the One whom they have pierced”? Wouldn’t Zechariah’s prophecy be fulfilled? Wouldn’t there be great weeping in Jerusalem?

Remember, God pours out His Spirit on His people so people will come to know His true Messiah, who loved them so much He gave His life (was pierced through) for them. As Isaiah said, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquities of us all” (Is. 53:6).

Was Zechariah 12:10 Recognized by the Jews as Messianic?

That this prophecy refers to the Messiah was admitted by the rabbis.[5] For example, this prophecy “is applied to the Messiah the Son of Joseph in the Talmud (Sukk.52a) and so is verse 12,…”[6]

Thus, some Jewish interpreters, trying to avoid the clear implication of the words, have attempted to apply this passage to the “other” Messiah who would suffer, Messiah Ben Joseph:

…the later interpreters explaining it of Messiah Ben Joseph, or the suffering Messiah, whom they invented to meet the passages of Scripture that speak so clearly of this characteristic of the promised Redeemer. But as they believed that this Messiah son of Joseph was a mere man, the difficulty met them that Jehovah declared “they shall look on ME whom they have pierced;” so that if it refers to the Messiah he cannot be a mere man, but must be divine.[7]

In spite of this, when Jehovah says, “they will look on me, the one they have pierced,” this prophecy uniquely fits only Jesus Christ.

Clues to Identify the Messiah

Whoever the Messiah is, He must fit the following descriptions:

Clue #1—He, a male child (the Hebrew text specifically uses a 3rd person, singular, masculine pronoun—”he”), will be born of the seed of the woman.

Clue #2—He will come from the race of the Jews, and specifically from the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Clue #3—He will be a great prophet, with the authority to teach like Moses.

Clue #4—He will be mocked, and people will cast lots for His garments while He suffers.

Clue #5—He will be David’s Lord.

Clue #6—He will be the child born who is God, and will have an everlasting kingdom.

Clue #7—He will be wounded and bruised, smitten and spit upon, mocked, killed with thieves, bear the sins of many, be rejected by His own people, pierced for our transgressions, be buried in a rich man’s tomb, and come back to life after His death.

Clue #8—He will be Jehovah our Righteousness.

Clue #9—He will be the Messiah who comes to Jerusalem 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem is given. At that time He will be killed.

Clue #10—He will be born in Bethlehem but has existed eternally.

Clue #11—He will be the King, who has salvation and comes riding on a donkey.

Clue #12—He will be Jehovah, the One pierced by the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Read Part 17


  1. Delitzsch and Gloag, Part 2, p. 120.
  2. Ibid., p. 121.
  3. Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, Vol. 10: The Minor Prophets, p. 388.
  4. Delitzsch and Gloag, Part 2, p. 121.
  5. T. V. Moore, Zechariah, Haggai and Malachi (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), p. 199.
  6. Edersheim, Life and Times, p. 737.
  7. T. V. Moore, pp. 199-200.

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