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“While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” David himself calls him “Lord.” How then can he be his son?’ The large crowd listened to him with delight.”—Mark 12:35–37 (NIV)
Three days before His crucifixion, we see Jesus at the temple teaching the people through parables and engaging with those who came to challenge Him.
In Mark 12:18–27, we see the Sadducees silenced by a remarkable lesson to which “Some of the teachers of the law responded, ‘Well said, teacher’” (Luke 20:39 NIV)! Then, in Matthew 22:34 (NIV), we’re told, “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.” I picture them huddling together like kids in the park playing football, whispering and drawing up a game plan.
So, they question Him about the greatest commandment and He gives an amazing answer, but then He does something they didn’t expect: He asks them a question! “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42 NIV). They responded, “The son of David.” At this, Jesus again blows everyone’s mind, explaining that David addressed Messiah as “Lord,” so “how then can he be his son”?
Now, from an earthly standpoint, Jesus was in fact the “son” of David in the same way He was also the “son” of Abraham. But just as He showed us when He said “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58 ESV), here He’s showing that beyond the human understanding, He predates David (and Abraham and even Adam!) as He’s not only fully man and thus fulfills the prophecy that the Messiah would come through the line of David, but that He is also fully God and has eternally existed before the foundations of the earth. As we’re told in Colossians 1:16–17 (NIV), “For in him all things were created. . . . He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Jesus is the son and Lord of David, the root and fruit of David.
So, why this question and all this explanation from Jesus? Because in Jewish culture, the ancestor outranks and represents all his descendants. And so, logically in their minds, Messiah, a descendant of King David, would be subordinate to David. Thus, while the Messiah would be a significant figure, he would be a man no more special than David, and actually considered under David in hierarchy. So, Jesus explains that Messiah must be much more than merely David’s son or Abraham’s son; Messiah must be the Son of God in equal measure to being the Son of Man! His authority doesn’t come from any earthly lineage or birthright, but from His eternal, heavenly position as God incarnate and birthright as preeminent over all creation!
What’s the lesson for us? Jesus, the Messiah, can’t be merely seen through human understanding—good teacher, prophet, guide, copilot, homeboy, descendant of a king. He must be seen and worshipped as God in the flesh, King of kings and Lord of lords, and Savior of the world. There is no in between with Him!
Pause: Why does Jesus take the time to ask this question and have this conversation with the Pharisees and the people listening?
Practice: There are a lot of people out there who believe they’re Christians, but neither truly see Jesus as fully God and fully man nor worship Him as such. They have not actually surrendered their lives to King, Lord, and Savior and simply claim to “believe in God.” If you’re a disciple of Jesus, one who has believed on His name for your salvation and surrendered your life to Him and His kingdom, I implore you to engage in conversations with others about their faith and belief. Engage in conversations about who Jesus is, what it means to be saved, what the gospel is, what it means to be a disciple, what giving your life to Him means. Now, it can’t be for the purpose of calling anyone out, making them feel bad, or judging them. It must be to edify, to celebrate and encourage those who have truly surrendered their lives to Christ, and to help guide those who haven’t yet.
Pray: Jesus, I believe You are who You say You are. Son of God, Son of Man. Son of David, and Lord of David. King, Savior, Lord, Friend, Creator, Sustainer. You are Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. And I worship You as such. I pray Jesus that I would never forget this and never let anything or anyone take the place in my life that is meant for You to occupy! Amen.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.