Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Palm Sunday + 3

Thirty pieces of silver.

Zechariah has a vision of a shepherd, called upon to tend the flock of God's people. The shepherd takes up the role, paying particular attention to the oppressed among the flock; but the flock detest him, and eventually he grows weary of them. Rejecting the flock - that is, the people - the shepherd expresses his intention to leave them, with or without his pay...and is paid thirty pieces of silver, a contemptable wage, which he is instructed by God to throw into the temple for the potter. Moreover, the shepherd's rejection of the flock also includes a revoking of the covenant made with all nations - that they should be blessed through God's choosing of one nation.

What is a potter doing in the temple? The potter was a symbol, found in Jeremiah's prophecies in the last days of the kingdom of Israel before the Babylonians came and took them into exile, of God: as the potter reshapes a vessel that is not taking shape in his hands, giving it another shape and purpose, so God has plans for nations - to bless them, or to judge them - but will change his plans according to their response - revoking intended blessing for those who do evil, revoking intended judgement for those who repent. Moreover, Jeremiah is told to buy a clay vessel from the potter and smash it, as a symbol of God's coming judgement on Jerusalem; a prophecy that refers to burial outside the city.

Again, Zechariah points to Jesus. Judas agrees to betray Jesus for the sum of thirty pieces of silver. After Jesus' crucifixion, Judas has a crisis of conscience, and tries to return the money to the priests; they are not interested in salving his conscience, and so he throws the money at their feet before commiting suicide. Not permitted to spend blood money on the temple, the priests use it to buy a potter's field, as a place of burial for foreigners. Thirty pieces of silver; a potter; foreigners kept seperate from God's people...

...Perhaps, just perhaps, a people chosen for blessing are about to experience judgement - again. Perhaps, just perhaps, peoples chosen for judgement will experience blessing...

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