While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? 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.
(Matthew 22:41-46 ESV)
What had upset the Pharisees the most about Jesus was that He allowed people to call Him the “Son of David” – a clear reference to Him being the Messiah [Matthew 9:27, 20:30, 12:23, 21:9 et. al]. The questions they tested Him with over the past few days were their attempt to disprove this idea. In today’s passage Jesus proves that He meets both the human criteria for being the Messiah as well as the divine criteria for being God.
Jesus’ first question is whose son is the Messiah. According to the Old Testament (which is all people had back then) God planned to send a savior (aka “Messiah”) to the human race who would liberate people from their oppressive enemy. God also promised that this savior would be a descendant of King David [2 Samuel 7:12-13, 15-16; Psalm 89]. The Pharisees knew this and replied correctly.
Jesus was a descendant of King David on both His mother’s and father’s side [Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38]. The Jews kept meticulous genealogical records. Such information was essential to establish who was allowed to serve in the Temple or as priests. The fact that no one ever challenged Jesus’ ancestry indicates they had verified that Jesus was in fact a descendant of King David. So Jesus met the human criteria for being the Messiah and the Pharisees knew it.
But then Jesus asks them another question. If the Messiah was David’s son then how could David call the Messiah “Lord“? These words of David were recorded in Psalm 110, which Jesus quotes. This Psalm was well known by Jews as a messianic psalm – one that spoke of the coming Messiah.
The Jews were expecting their Messiah (aka liberator) to be a human being who would release them from the oppression of Rome. But as Jesus’ question points out, this theory is invalid because David clearly called the Messiah his “Lord” – a reference to the Messiah’s deity. How could God be one of David’s descendants?
The truth is that God has always planned on being the Messiah for mankind [Psalm 65:5, 68:19]. This was necessary because mankind’s biggest enemy is not other human beings; the Jew’s biggest enemy was not Rome. Mankind’s biggest enemy is sin because sin keeps people out of heaven. And only God can conquer sin.
In His humanity Jesus was a descendant of King David. But He was also God as evidenced by His many miracles. With His words in today’s passage Jesus is telling His listeners that He is, without a doubt, the Messiah. They understood this as they could not say a word in reply.
But sadly they would not admit it. As we’ll see, they refused to let go of their pride and changed their tactics from asking Jesus questions to deceitfully planning His murder.
Jesus’ question – “What do you think of the Messiah?” – is the same question Jesus had asked His own disciples earlier. This question is by far the most important question facing every human being on earth today. Many people understand Jesus claimed to be, and proved Himself to be, God. But, like the Pharisees, their egos prevent them from admitting it. For to admit that Jesus is God is to admit that everything He said is true.
Jesus was God who came to earth in a human body to defeat your biggest enemy – sin. Understanding and admitting that is the only way to eternal life [John 3:16, 14:6; Acts 4:11-12 et. al].
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