Christ – the Son of David
OT Reading: Psalm 110:1-7
NT Reading: Phil.2:1-11
Text: Luke 20:41-44
I imagine that most of you will be familiar with the saying "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
It means that just a small amount of knowledge can be sufficient to mislead someone into thinking that they are more expert than they really are.
It isn’t easy to help a person who already considers himself to be in the know, is it? And there are plenty of folk around today who like to think of themselves as experts in the field of the Christian religion although they are ignorant of the most basic and fundamental truths of the faith. There are many who will tell you what Christianity is or what they think it ought to be without ever bothering to open the Bible for themselves.
Are you like that? I do hope not. I hope you genuinely want to understand what the Christian faith really is all about and that you are ready to use your mind in seriously thinking about what the Bible has to say to you.
Jesus met some people who really did want to listen to hear him preach and teach about the Kingdom of God, but he also met plenty who thought they knew it all already when in fact they couldn’t see the wood for the trees.
The Jewish religious leaders of his day did have an accurate knowledge about some of the things of God but they didn’t by any means understand everything there was to know though they didn’t like to admit it. And they didn’t appreciate this upstart from Nazareth who saw things differently to them.
The result was that these leaders became more and more opposed to Jesus as time went on. Oh yes, they knew a lot about him but they didn’t like what they discovered:
they knew about his teaching but they didn’t like it for they felt threatened by it and so rejected it
they knew about his miracle working power but tried to attribute his success in this to his working hand in glove with the devil
they recognised that he exercised an authority in both his speech and his actions but as they hadn’t given him their prior approval they accused him of behaving without due respect
In fact they opposed Jesus at every turn and were frustrated by their inability to get the better of him. Try as they may he always seemed to win the argument and have the last word. They’d just been trying unsuccessfully to rebuke him for what they thought was another example of his abuse of power as he disrupted their way of running affairs in the temple. Trying another tack they had attempted to show him up before the crowds with some clever trick questions but once again they had failed dismally. They were at a loss as to what to do next and no-one had an idea of what to say to him next.
On the other hand Jesus knew exactly what he wanted to say and having answered all their trick questions he now asked some serious questions of his own. He asked some questions about the Messiah.
Jesus asks questions about the Messiah
Throughout the gospel narratives Jesus is presented to us as the "Christ". It was a description that the gospel writers gave him based upon his own understanding of who he was. We are probably so used to thinking of Jesus as Jesus Christ that we don’t stop to give the matter any second thought.
His enemies however did not agree with him. They refused to see him as the Christ and indeed one of the reasons they had him crucified was because of his claim to be the Christ. This claim was not something that Jesus made a big fuss about but he did accept the description when others used it of him thereby clearly showing that he did indeed see himself as the Christ, the Messiah. (The two words are the Greek and Hebrew translations of each other).
So when Jesus put his question concerning the Messiah he was asking his listeners to think more carefully about who he actually was himself even though he spoke in the third person.
Jesus began was the identity of the Messiah – to be precise whose son was he?
Everyone knew the answer to that question – it was common knowledge to the Jew that the Messiah had been promised to come from the house of David. God had made his promises to King David and God keeps his promises. He promised David that one of his sons would reign in his place and that the Lord would establish his throne forever (2Sam.7:10-12). We find this promise referred to and developed further in several places:
Ps.89:4 "I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations."
Is.11:1, "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit."
Jer.23:5 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land."
The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke both draw attention to the fact that King David was one of Jesus’ human ancestors with Luke in particular declaring that Jesus was born in David’s city of Bethlehem because he was of David’s house and line.
Yes, everyone knew the answer to the question: Whose son is the Christ? (cf. Mt.22:42) and indeed several folk had addressed Jesus using exactly this title as they called out to Jesus:
Matthew tells us of some of them:
There were two blind men who followed Jesus and as they did so they called out to him with the words:
"Have mercy on us, Son of David." Mt.9:27
When the crowds saw Jesus heal a blind mute they were amazed and asked themselves the question:
"Can this be the Son of David?" Mt.12:23
A Canaanite woman whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit cried out to Jesus in exactly the same way:
"Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David" Mt.15:22
And when Jesus had recently entered the city of Jerusalem he was acclaimed by the crowds and by children singing out loudly:
"Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Mt.21:9
Jesus was asking a question about the Messiah and in doing so he was drawing attention to himself.
But if the leaders thought that the answer to the question was so easy they were about to be confronted with a dilemma. Jesus wasn’t contesting this fact that the Messiah was indeed to be David’s son but he was concerned to point out that in saying that everything had not yet been said – far from it in fact!
Jesus then turned his attention to Psalm 110 – a psalm that was universally recognised as being a Messianic psalm. (This psalm is the most frequently quoted psalm in the entire NT.)
Writing some 1,000 years before the incarnation David described a conversation between Jehovah – the LORD GOD and another person, the one who is now described as being David’s Lord and Master. And what extraordinary things are stated in this conversation.
The Messiah is, yes, David’s son but he is also now described as David’s Lord! How can this be? Somehow, the Messiah had an existence at the time of David and before and his position and status are so important that David refers to him as his Lord. A son who is his Lord!
The Jewish authorities knew of this psalm but had evidently never stopped to reflect upon how this might be possible. It was enough for them to consider the Messiah as David’s son and they were content with that little bit of knowledge but they failed to do justice to this further information. Are you guilty of doing the same I wonder?
Do you have you own little idea of who Jesus is and you don’t want to think again? Perhaps you are happy to think of Jesus as a great man of history who lived 2,000 years ago. Perhaps you will describe him as a good man, a great teacher, a miracle worker, a social reformer, a revolutionary – a great man of history. But then you stop – that is all he is to you and as such you feel yourself to admire him from a distance as it were.
If that is the case then you are like those religious leaders of old – they couldn’t explain who this Messiah was – they were flummoxed – David’s Lord and David’s son how a man be both? And yet you must see clearly who this Messiah is, who this Christ is. For Jesus is telling us that he is at one and the same time David’s Son and David’s Lord. He is both the root and the branch of David; David comes from him and he in turn descends from David!
Who on earth can he be?
More Clues as to the Identity of the Messiah
A closer look at Ps.110 which Jesus quotes from will help us to ascertain just who this Messiah is.
Look at what the LORD GOD says to him:
"Sit at my right hand." Ps.110:1, Lk.20:41
The right hand of God signifies the place of honour and power – there is no higher place where anyone might be placed but this is the place to which the Messiah, David’s Lord is directed.
Ex.15:6 "Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy."
The prophet Michaiah had a vision of God in the dark days of the rule of King Ahab – this is what he saw:
1Kings 22:19 "I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;"
Isaiah had a similar vision where the seraphim hovered and flew in the presence of the LORD. But The LORD says does not tell David’s Lord to stand in his presence but to sit, to sit in the very place of highest honour and power.
Who on earth can this be?
But still the psalmist has more to record for us to help us:
"until I make your enemies your footstool." Ps.110:1; Lk.20:42
These words are astonishing. The LORD GOD declares that he is operating in order that every enemy might be brought in submission to this one who is David’s Lord. The God who works all things for the glory of his own name and for his own good pleasure declares here that he is determined to bring every last enemy to bow in submission to David’s Lord, the Messiah. So complete will be that submission that they will be as a footstool for the Messiah to rest his feet upon!
Who on earth can this be?
I’ll tell you who. This is none other than Jehovah-Jesus. The Messiah is the Son of David after his human nature but he is more than a mere man he is God Incarnate, he is the Son of God. This is the One by whom and for whom the world was made. This is the One who came into the world to save sinners. This is the One who came to his own only to be rejected by them and crucified by them. Yet, he came knowingly to die for that was the way the Messiah would fulfil his mission and be truly the Saviour of the World.
Do you begin to catch a glimpse of the wonder of this? A mere man might impress us for a while but what could a mere man demand of us 2,000 years after he walked on the earth? But this One who walked on the earth 2,000 years ago while a true man is more than a man he is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He is heaven’s delight. He is the Father’s Beloved and Unique Son. He lives on in the power of an indestructible life. Because of the majesty of his person his sacrifice on behalf of sinners is of inestimable value and worth – his sacrifice fully satisfies the rigours of divine wrath and justice and he is offered to us in the gospel.
Don’t let anyone turn you from a Divine Saviour. Anything less than such a Saviour and you would be left in your sins and lost for all eternity!
The tragedy of the Jewish religious leaders was that they failed to recognise that Jesus was just this divine Messiah. Instead of recognising him for who he was and worshipping him they tried to find fault, they cast doubt upon his integrity and his utter goodness. They the godless ones treated him the High and Holy One as though he were the imposter! They refused to learn from him, they refused to come to him for the forgiveness they needed for the peace they needed and they found themselves opposed to the most glorious of persons. He sits at the right hand of the God and they have the audacity to challenge his right to cleanse the temple that was always intended to be a house of prayer and not the market place they had allowed it to become.
Beware, lest you be found fighting against Jesus as those religious folk who thought they had got it right. Beware lest you remain Jesus’ enemy for if you do then one day you too will be made his footstool, forced into submission though it will be no willing or joyful submission for you then. The Father has determined and it shall come to pass – at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. You have a choice – be reconciled to God through Jesus now and enjoy all the fruits of his salvation and deliverance or go on as you are on that broad road that leads to destruction.
Jesus invited his hearers to think about the importance of his person and role – what stops you doing that? Don’t stop until you see and realise what a tremendous gift God is offering you – his own dear Son – and when you realise don’t hesitate a moment longer. Call on the name of the Lord for now is the day of salvation. But you must call! If you have never called upon Jesus to save you then know that you are not yet saved and if you are not yet saved you remain his enemy. I plead with today my friends, Be reconciled to God!
And to God alone be the praise and the glory.