While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
“If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
I imagine Matthew has great joy in reporting this story, for it picks up on two titles he used in the very first verse of his Gospel as he introduced Jesus to us: “Christ” and “son of David.” He’s been wanting us to see the reality of these names all the way through. Now Jesus himself focuses attention on them.
But Jesus does so in such an interesting way. He asks several questions, concluding with one that is fully loaded, simply leaving it hanging in the air, as no one seems able to answer it.
His first question is easy enough. Whose son is the Christ? Apparently there was general consensus at the time as to the correct answer: “The son of David.” It was clear to them that Messiah would come from David’s line and would “reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7). It seems clear that Jesus agrees wholeheartedly with this assessment, for this very point of view is embraced by Matthew as he begins his Gospel, revealing Jesus with these same two titles. The Christ is indeed the son of David.
But he’s more. He is also “Lord.” That term, “Lord,” can be used as an everyday commonplace equivalent for “Sir.” But in the present context it’s clear that it rings with the overtones of divinity, for it is being used in a divine conversation in heaven itself: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand.’”
So Jesus asks his final question: “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one can answer. Jesus leaves the question hanging.
We, of course, know the answer. We discover it in Jesus himself. He is certainly the Christ, the son of David, the one long promised to come rescue and redeem his people – he is the Saviour, giving his own life as a ransom for many. But he is also the Son of God himself, fully divine, bearing the name “Lord” with full authority and power. Beyond the expectation of the people of that time, God’s rescue plan involved the Son of God himself – he is Jesus (“The Lord saves”) and also Immanuel (“God with us”). “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). Truly, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NASB).
Jesus’ unanswered question points the way to fuller understanding. He is Christ. He is the son of David. He is Lord. Hallelujah.
Praise you, Lord Jesus Christ, son of David. You are my Redeemer. You are my King. You are my Lord. Praise your name.
Pray: Take some quiet moments of worship to honour Jesus in the fullness of his being. Use a favourite worship song or hymn. Use a scripture that declares his worth (John 1:1-5, 14; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20). Speak to him your own words of praise.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash