Harmony of the Gospels

(9) Jesus and David
(Psalm 110:1)Matthew 22:41-46 (focal passage), Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:41-44


Matthew 22:41-46

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?
45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”
46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

This incident is the climax of the series of encounters that Jesus had with His enemies during one day (Tuesday) of that final week in Jerusalem.

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

Paraphrase: While the Pharisees were assembled together, Jesus asked them a question.

All early Christians understood that Jesus was a descendant of David; but He did not derive his authority from his personal ancestry. The Messiah must be thought of, not as a national monarch but as the lord of all, exalted far above David. 

The Pharisees had asked Jesus questions on many occasions, thinking they could expose Him as a fraud, but He always managed to defeat their evil attempts to discredit Him with the people. Now, He asks them a question while they were together discussing how to deal with Him. He could have taken one of them aside, but in order to shame them even more, he took them all on. God delights in baffling his enemies when they are the strongest. He gives them all the advantages they can wish for, and still He conquers them.

42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

Paraphrase: “What is your view of the Messiah? Whose son is He?” They answered, “He is The Son of David.”

From Mark 12:35, we know that Jesus was teaching in the temple when this took place. They had put questions to him, one after another, concerning the law; but now, he comes and puts a question to them. The question He posed was, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” By asking them who the Messiah is, He gave them another opportunity to acknowledge Him as that Anointed One from God that they were waiting for. The question is similar to that earlier one He asked of the disciples recorded in Matthew 16:15 (“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ ”), where they gave the correct answer. The Pharisees’ response, “The Son of David,” was an easy answer since they were trained experts in the Law. They were familiar with those scriptures that referred to the anticipated Messiah as the Son of David. If they had been asked, they could give the chapter and verse of those Old Testament scriptures, including  2 Samuel 7:12-13.

The answer, “The Son of David,” reflects their conviction that the Messiah would be no more than a man who would deliver Israel from their Roman masters and make the nation great again.  It was the common teaching of the scribes who accepted the Davidic lineage of the Messiah. The basis for teaching this concept is found in Psalm 89:35-36,  Isaiah 9:7 and  Isaiah 11:1.

Most Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the Christ; they were still waiting for the Messiah. Therefore, Jesus was not asking them, “What do you think of Me?” He was asking in a general way, what impression they had of the office and person of the Messiah, and whose Son would the Messiah be when He appeared. They answered correctly that the Messiah would be a descendant of David. They wanted a Messiah that would be a political leader, defeat their Roman masters, and make their nation great, again.  That was partly why they did not accept Christ when He came as the Messiah.

Today, many are so busy trying to keep the law, that they forget Christ, as if their good deeds would save them without His merit and grace. It would be a good idea for each of us to ask ourselves, what do we think of Christ? Some do not think of him at all, but to them that believe he is precious!

43 He said to them, “How then does  David in the Spirit call Him ‘ Lord,’ saying:
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your  footstool” ’?

Paraphrase: Then Jesus said, “How can the Messiah be ‘The Son of David,’ since David when he was influenced by the Holy Spirit called Him Lord.” God said to my Lord (Jesus), “Set by my right side until I have made your enemies your footstool”

Then the Lord Jesus quoted, word for word, Psalm 110:1 where David said, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”

Every orthodox Jewish scholar interpreted this verse as referring to the Messiah.  Only the Messiah could set at the right hand of Jehovah God.  The first use of the word “LORD” refers to God the Father, and the second to the Messiah. Therefore, David spoke of the Messiah as his Lord. To be the true Messiah the Lord must have authority and power from above our earth.  He must come from God’s right hand—David would not have addresses a merely human descendent, as Lord. 

No one could deny that David wrote this psalm and now Jesus states that it was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It was obvious from this and many other scriptures that Christ was to be the Son of David; even the blind man knew this—“Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Lk.18:39). The multitudes shouted “hosanna to the son of David" (Matt. 21:9).  Jesus, by accepting these praises without protest, and by fulfilling the prophecy of  Zachariah 9:9, had indicated, though indirectly, that he was indeed the very son of David that was to come.  The direct and open affirmation of Him would follow a little later ( Lk. 22:69-70). 

In Psalm 110:1, David refers to the Messiah as his Lord; therefore, He is more than just his “Son.” Consequently, the verse says, “The Lord (God) said to my Lord (the Messiah), set on my right hand, until I (God) put your enemies (the enemies of the Messiah) beneath your feet (the final messianic victory over all who oppose Christ).” It was suitable for David, his remote ancestor, to call him Lord, when Mary, his immediate mother, after she had conceived him, called him, Lord and God, her Savior (Lu. 1:46, 47).
These are great words, so great that Paul quoted them several times in his letters:
• Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (Heb. 8:1).
• Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9).
• Which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:20).

The key to understanding this verse lies in identifying the two distinct persons referred to by the name of “Lord.” The first use of the word refers unmistakably to Jehovah. The other word “Lord” is the Hebrew adon and means “master” or “ruler.” It was sometimes used as a name of God and sometimes applied to a human master. Although the word itself does not always indicate a Divine Person, the words that follow show that David’s Lord (Adon) was equal with God.

It was the moment of truth for the Pharisees. Yet in spite of all the evidence, they were unwilling to acknowledge Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.

The New Testament writers leave no room for doubt that the One who is seated at God’s right hand is none other than Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62; 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:34, 35; 5:31; 7:55, 56; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:24ff; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12, 13; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 3:21). Therefore, verse 1 tells what Jehovah said to the LORD Jesus on His Ascension Day when He sat down at God’s right hand. But, He is only there until His enemies are made His footstool.

This psalm is quoted in the New Testament more than any other one. It was quoted by Jesus (Matt. 22:41–46) and Peter (Acts 2:32–36), and the writer of Hebrews quoted it (or alluded to it) many times.

What a great honor it is to sit beside God, but He did not take this honor upon himself; He was entitled to it because of His relationship with His Father, who had empowered and commissioned Him to subdue his enemies. He will be seated beside the Father until everyone has been made either his friends or his footstool.
It was a great mark of distinction for The Lord to be so honored, however, there is dishonor coupled to it. The scholars in that day were confused about the Messiah. They saw two pictures of Messiah in the Old Testament and could not reconcile them.  One picture showed a suffering servant, the other showed a conquering and reigning Monarch.  Were there two Messiahs?  How could the servant suffer and die?  ( see 1 Peteer:10:10-12). The teachers of the Law had taught the people that the Messiah would come from the royal family, which would be an honor for their nation—but they had not taught them that one thing, which would honor the Messiah himself—that he would be the Son of God, and, as such, He was David’s Lord. Therefore, we know they held the truth in unrighteousness, and were biased in the gospel, as well as in the Law of the Old Testament.

45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”  Mark adds “And the common people heard Him gladly” (Mk. 12:37).

Paraphrase: If David has called God (Jesus) Lord, explain to me how He is also his son.

Now Jesus posed another question, “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” The answer is that the Messiah is both David’s Lord and David’s Son—both God and Man. As God, He is David’s Lord; as Man, He is David’s Son. How could He save us, unless He was both the Son of God with authority and a man who knows our need, from within?

Had the Pharisees only been teachable, they would have realized that Jesus was the Messiah—the Son of David through the line of Mary, and the Son of God as revealed by His words, works, and character. The inescapable implication is that Jesus is declaring His deity.

Now if the Messiah is David’s Son, why does he call him his Lord? If he is his Lord, why do the Jews call him his Son? Christ left them at this juncture to mull over this eye-opener, but they could not reconcile this seeming contradiction; thanks be to God, we can; that Christ, as God, was David’s Lord, but Christ, as man, was David’s Son. He was both the root and the offspring of David ( Rev. 22:16). By his human nature he was the offspring of David, a branch of his family; by his divine nature he was the root of David, from whom he had his being and life, and all the supplies of grace.

Christ was a descendent of David, and one day He will fill his throne—“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Lk. 1:32). The scripture said it often, but the people believed it only because the scribes said it; however, the truths of God are better when they are quoted from our Bibles, rather than from our ministers—The waters are sweetest when drawn immediately from their source.

46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

Paraphrase: No one in the crowd that day had an answer for Jesus, and from then on, no one dared to question Him on the controversial issues of the day.

He did not intend to trap them, as they had tried to do to him, but to instruct them in a truth, they refused to believe—that the expected Messiah is God. Jesus totally stumped those Pharisees who wanted to believe in a human Messiah but not a divine Messiah. All of His opponents had been silenced including the chief priests and elders (Matt. 21:23-27), the Pharisees and Herodians together (Matt. 22:15-22), the Sadducees (Matt. 22:15-22), and now the Pharisees. They remained silent, but the answer was not the issue anyhow. Jesus merely wanted to reveal that even the knowledgeable scribes with all their questions had their limits. Now this galled the scribes, to have their ignorance exposed, and, no doubt that incensed them even more against Christ; but the “common people heard him gladly” (Mk. 12:37). What he preached was shocking; and although it reflected badly upon the scribes, it was instructive to them, and they had never heard such preaching. However, if they had accepted his teaching, then they would also have to accept him as the Messiah; and this they were unwilling to do.  Perhaps some of these same people cried out, Crucify him, as they would again, when Jesus was on trial for His life.

Making a decision about Jesus Christ is a matter of life or death. The evidence is there for all to examine.  We can examine it defensively and miss the truth.  On the other hand, we can examine it honestly and humbly, and discover the truth, believe, and be saved.  The religious leaders were so blinded by tradition, position, and selfish pride that they could not, and would not see the truth and receive it. We dare not make the same mistake today. 

In one day, Jesus had annihilated and humiliated the wisdom and cunning of the leaders of each of Israel’s religious organizations. He did not try to prove that He was God the Son, the Messiah. He would reserve that for later. His Resurrection proved He was whom He said He was, but they refused to see. Completely baffled by His wisdom, they ceased trying to trick Him with questions. Hereafter they would use another method—violence.


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