Luke 20:41-44 (NIV) Then Jesus said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘ David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
Some look at Jesus’ words here and conclude that Jesus is denying being a descendant of David. But in Luke 3:23-31, Luke clearly shows that Jesus IS a direct descendant of David. So what is Jesus actually saying here?
The people were looking for a merely human Messiah, one who would reestablish the line of Davidic kings, and who would lead Israel into a new golden age of world domination. Thus, over the years, strong men who looked like the would be great military leaders had misled the people into following them as potential messiahs, until they ultimately came to ruin.
But Jesus was trying here to help God’s people to see a much larger picture of Who the Messiah was prophesied to be, using Psalm 110, a Psalm that the rabbis and scholars taught was clearly Messianic. Right at the opening, David writes of the Messiah’s commissioning by God. And David uses what appears in English translations to be convoluted language, “The Lord said to my lord,” but which in Hebrew is very clear. The Hebrew reads, in effect, “The declaration of Yahweh to my Adonai.” Yahweh is God’s personal covenant name, the name by which He revealed Himself to Israel. Adonai is the common word for Lord or master, and was widely interpreted, in this case, as a title signifying the Messiah.
Jesus’ point was, if the Messiah was simply David’s son, it would be odd for him to refer to him as “my Lord” or “my master.” So the fact that David used that terminology showed that the Messiah would be much more than a mere human descendant of David. The very words of Scripture indicated that there would be a divine element to the Messiah; an element that was missing in all prior candidates, but an element that was definitely present in Jesus.
Father, it is fascinating how much is hidden in plain sight in Your word, easily missed by those who satisfy themselves with a cursory reading. But Jesus, in reality the co-author of those same Scriptures, knew all that was in them, even those things that were camouflaged, and was eager to reveal them to those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. Help me to see clearly all that Your word holds, so that I can know You and Your will better. Amen.