Matthew 22:41-46 (NIV) 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.
The Pharisees had all gotten together to see if there was a way to refute Jesus’ teachings at the temple. But His teaching on the greatest and second greatest commandment was not only unassailable, the Pharisees found themselves actually agreeing with Him. Now Jesus took them on an investigation into the person of the Messiah – who He was supposed to be.
One of the most confident teachings that the Pharisees had about the Messiah was that He would be a descendent (or “son”) of king David, a descendent in the direct line of the ancient kings of Israel. Thus they looked for a person with a clear pedigree, who would come to Jerusalem one day as a mighty ruler.
Jesus didn’t disagree with the theology of the Messiah’s descent. He knew that the Scriptures clearly foretold that the Messiah would come from David’s line. And He had no problem fulfilling that prophecy, as He was Himself from David’s line through both His mother and Joseph. (See Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38.) But to the Jewish people, “son of” included the subtle understanding that the son would be less than the father. They looked forward to being ruled again by a Davidic king, but they saw David as the epitome of kings that would probably never be matched again.
But Jesus, the Messiah, was not only as great a leader as David, He was infinitely greater, being in fact God in the flesh. To support this, Jesus pointed back to Psalm 110, a psalm written by David Himself, and widely accepted to be a prophecy about the Messiah. Jesus pointed out that David talks about how “the LORD” (the divine name of God) spoke to the Messiah, but calls the Messiah “my Lord,” or “my master.” Jesus’ point was that if David calls the Messiah “Lord” or “Master,” He must be greater than, not less than, David.
The Pharisees couldn’t argue against Jesus’ logic. It was at that moment that they realized that they would never be able to trap Him in His words or trip Him up in His theology. He was just too good!
Father, Jesus really is greater than David, or any earthly king precisely because He was and is God in the flesh. If even David accepted Him as Lord, we can’t claim to be too good to receive Him as such ourselves. Help us to do precisely that. Amen.