There’s a fascinating scene that appears at the end of Matthew 19, in which Peter, speaking on behalf of the rest of the apostles, makes the same self-righteous claim that the “rich young ruler” made to Jesus’s face only a few moments prior. It’s this erroneous assertion by Christ’s disciples that leads him to tell, perhaps, the most intriguing and unsettling parable of the kingdom in all of Scripture.
Zechariah 3 commences the fourth vision of the Lord to the prophet Zechariah. The first, second, and third visions having told of the future spiritual restoration of the nation of Israel, give way to the fourth vision, as if to answer the prophet’s inquiry, “How?” How will God accomplish this restoration? How will a righteous God clear the names of the guilty?
One of the pervasive diseases that continues to infect and affect the church is the fallacy of justification by doing. The notion that I can save myself by my works is a dangerous, deadly lie with which we deceive ourselves. But as is clearly seen in Philippians 2, this notion is not only false but a complete misreading of what Scripture actually says. Trying to save yourself by your works is like trying to push open a pull door.
God’s justification of sinners has rightly been deemed the fulcrum of the ministry of the church. Or, the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls. That being incontrovertibly true, a right understanding of what justification is and how a holy God goes about justifying the unrighteous will shed brilliant light on just how important this doctrine is — and there is, perhaps, no better scene in which to do that than that of Zechariah 3.