The Word for today:
mark this: Zechariah 11:12-13
We–you and I–don’t get mentioned much in Old Testament prophecy. But today we do, in a sad and happy and wistful way.
It’s not an easy prophecy to follow, because it depends on irony. Irony is when the surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same.
We are told that Zechariah’s severance pay was thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave:
Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”–the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter. (Zechariah 11:12-13)
We hear irony in “the lordly price at which I was priced by them.” The thirty pieces, of course, was anything but lordly!
The only thing it would purchase was a field next to the potter’s house–where so many broken, rejected pieces of pottery were thrown that the land was considered useless.
When we get to the New Testament, a disciple named Judas Iscariot will betray Jesus by informing the religious leaders of his whereabouts. There, where Judas said he would be, Jesus was seized. Then he was brought to trial. Soon thereafter he was crucified.
The money, Judas came to realize, was blood money; he had profited by betraying an innocent man. So he took the money and threw it back to the religious leaders. Then he hanged himself.
So tainted was this money that the religious leaders would not place it into the Temple treasury. They “laundered” the money–literally taking the blood off their hands–by purchasing the worthless potter’s field as a burial ground for strangers:
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. (Matthew 27:3-8)
So where are you and I in this prophecy? We’re the broken and rejected vessels that the blood money purchased. We’re the clay that the LORD God reclaimed, at the price of his blood, in order to renew and reshape us.
We appear in this prophecy, but it isn’t about the clay. It isn’t even about the blood.
It’s about a potter, broken and rejected himself.
It’s all about a potter, broken for the broken.