Jesus is the Divine Messiah

We have just three verses today. Today we will see a collision between the true identity of Jesus and the natural assessment of Jesus by the human heart.

What we will see is that everyone wants a deliverer, but not everyone wants God. Everyone wants relief from negative feelings, perhaps relief from guilt, relief from relational conflict or economic hardship or grief and sorrow, pain and suffering, sickness and disease, heart ache and sorrow. 

But wanting relief and freedom from those things is natural. All of them are results of the fall. All of them are consequences of sin. Not always personal sin as though you connect your sin tit for tat to the consequence. Many consequences befall us because we are living in world that is reeling and groaning due to the fall.

But worshipping God is not the same as wanting relief from the fall.

This is one of the reasons why a gospel message that is geared toward human felt needs is so dangerous. By that I mean a gospel message that is tailored to natural desires for belonging or peace or prosperity. Those are part of the package of what God gives us in salvation.

But first and foremost the gospel is the good news that through believing in God’s provision for you, your guilt and condemnation can be removed through Jesus who serves as your substitute. It’s about reconciliation with God. It’s about life in Jesus Christ. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about eternal life.

You can get be saved and still face negative feelings, conflict, economic struggle, grief, sorrow, pain, sickness and disease. But you face it knowing that through Christ you will overwhelming conquer and none of those things can separate you from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus.

That’s our hope. That’s what we believe as Christians. It is the center point of what we believe.

Sadly, the church often gives up this center point and trades it for lesser glories. Today, evangelicals get sidetracked from these transcendent priorities in order to gain some temporal benefits. You see these in all types of longings:

  • A longing for cultural influence—we want things to look the way we want them to look

  • A longing for political peace—no more wars, fighting, debates, just rest

  • A longing for social justice—no more poverty, no more racism

  • A longing for morality—no more child abuse and pornography and lying and drug use

  • A longing for health and prosperity—not more heart disease and car accidents and suicide and murder and back pain

And those are fine things to pray for. But they are not fine things to live. We life for Jesus Christ and our influence is not our concern. Our comfort is not our concern. It’s his glory through our yielded lives.

The tendency is to get sidetracked and use God for our own agenda. It isn’t just our problem. This was Israel’s problem as well. The nation didn’t want God, they wanted what God could give them. 

Welcome to the longing heart of Israel. Jesus deals with this very issue today as it pertains to his own identity, the identity of the Messiah. Here’s how we are going to approach this text today:

3 Considerations for Understanding Our Glorious Christ (35-37)

  1. The prevailing expectations in Israel (35)

  2. The proper perspective from Scripture (36)

  3. The proceeding reaction in the Temple (37)

Let’s read our text:

35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.” ’ 37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him. 

  1. The prevailing expectations in Israel (35)

The prevailing expectations in Israel—we are going to spend most of our time on this point to help ourselves think like a first-century Jew. We will look at Scripture as we put this together. But most of the message is going to deal with these expectations. 

You read these three verses at first and it doesn’t seem like there’s a ton happening here. There’s a lot going on, but we are removed from the context. There are buzzwords then, which we don’t relate to now.

And so, it is in our event today.

(35) And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, 

Our Lord loves human souls. He weeps over the city of Jerusalem and longs to see her repent. That took place earlier this week (Luke 19:41-44). 

Here Jesus is being gracious and patient to continue teaching. In his teaching, Jesus always glorified his Father by speaking what was true (John 7:17).

This day in the temple has been consumed with Jesus defending himself. He’s been fielding questions from the opposition. First it was the Sanhedrin, then it was the Pharisees and Herodians, followed by the Sadducees and one of the scribes of the Pharisees. 

But now Jesus switches from playing defense to playing offense. Now it’s his turn to ask questions.

Ralph Martin says:

After a day of questions comes the question of the day…

The question Jesus asks will have to do with biblical interpretation.

If you note, Jesus often asks questions relating to the matter of biblical interpretation. He exposes the unbelief and the ignorance and the lack of understanding by asking simple questions about the Scriptures that those who know best ought to be able to answer and cannot:

How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 

Not some random chance occurrence. Jesus has brought this topic up in front of everyone. Matthew writes…

Matthew 22:41–42—41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42 “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.”

This question is directed to them. Mark just records in it in third person. It would be like me saying to all of your, “what does the body think about such and such a doctrine?” Jesus is pressing in on a commonly held view (a correct view) that the Messiah would be a descendent of David.

This is a key question: what do you think about the Christ? That’s the key question for them and it is for us. And the real point Jesus is after here is: is the Christ just a man? And we will see that as we go. Is the Christ just a man with military might and political prowess? Is he just an incredible earthly ruler, the best you can get?

The topic is already in the air. Look back up at v. 34 where we left things last week. Jesus says you are not far from the kingdom of God. There’s this theme of the kingdom. And so he introduced that concept with the scribe.

He judged the scribe and told him where he stood spiritually. Profound for someone to do that. Like a private citizen telling a judge that they are getting close to understanding the law.

This topic Jesus is bringing up is the topic of the day. This conversation about the Christ is already taking place. it was a discussion topic amongst the religious elites, it was a discussion topic among the folks, and it was even a topic coming up outside of Israel among nearby Gentiles.

You have a nation looking right now for their version of a George Washington. Washington was not simply a president, but truly a commander-in-chief who led soldiers and trained them and served as a military general. He led the fledgling nation in the revolution against Britain who was much better resourced in many ways. There are obviously many differences, but that’s the type of discussion people are having about the Christ right now.

An anointed monarchy of a powerful and mighty king who would lead Israel to victory over her enemies.

Before we go any further let’s remind ourselves what Jesus is saying. 

Here he says the Christ (that is the Greek word, Christos for the Hebrew Maschiach, or Messiah as we anglicize it). Any time you see Christ in the New Testament, just think Messiah, or Anointed One. It denotes the hope of Israel. 

The anointing is the anointing of God in the official capacity as a prophet a priest and a king. This three-fold role serves as a shorthand way of summarizing the functions Jesus fulfills.

As prophet he reveals truth to people, specifically in behalf of his Father. As priest, he brings people to God, and as king, he rules over them in majestic sovereignty. All of it is right here in this one title.

But the focal point for Israel right now is the monarchy. They are thinking king as the priority role.

Consider how Israel got here. First was Moses, then Joshua as leaders of the people. Then the period of the judges. And then the prophet Samuel anointed king Saul. Saul was Israel’s first king. He was a huge military success. 

Then came David who had even more success. The kingdom expanded in terms of borders and it was unified. If you were comparing David and Saul, David was better than Saul. He brought unity and his military conquests ushered in Solomon’s rule, which relatively speaking was peaceful.

Everybody looked back on David’s monarchy with fondness.

And not only that, but there was a connection between David on the future of the nation:

2 Samuel 7:11–16—11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you. 12 “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ”

Part of this will be fulfilled in Solomon, some immediate peace, and God’s correction of his iniquity. But some of this couldn’t be filled by S9lomon. He is going to  be established on the throne of David forever.

A descendent who will reign forever. So when Jesus and the scribes are speaking here of the son of David, this is whom they have in mind. They don’t mean father-son direct offspring, but rather in the family lineage. Just consider how significant God’s promise was here in 2 Samuel to his people. 

It’s 1,000 years after David’s death and it is front and center. Israel needs deliverance. Let’s consider a brief history lesson:

David reigns around 1,000 BC. Almost three hundred years after that (722 BC) Israel, the northern kingdom falls to Assyria. Then Judah, the southern kingdom holds out until being conquered by Babylon over 100 years later (586 BC). 

After those horrific times, the Jews eventually get back to the land when the exiles return. But Israel had lost her glory. The temple had been destroyed. Jerusalem was in shambles. There’s no monarchy.

Everyone is remembering the days that once were.

And as the cycle continues, more recently, in 63 BC (so that’s one hundred years earlier this moment) Pompey the Great conquered Jerusalem and Israel lost her freedom and came under Roman rule. 

For context, that’s roughly the distance we are from World War II. Imagine losing WWII and being under another regime. You can get the picture for why the people are so desiring this deliverer to come soon. In fact, we get a little window into the Jewish mindset through extra-biblical writings.

That means things written down by Jews that aren’t inspired Scripture, but historical documents. One such writing is Psalms of Solomon. That almost sounds like it’s in your Bible, but it’s not. Don’t turn there. That’s going to be embarrassing for you if you are trying to turn there right now. Here’s an excerpt from Psalms of Solomon 17, written about 100 years before the time of Jesus:

O Lord, raise up their king, the son of David, that he may reign over Israel thy servant.

Gird him with strength that he might shatter unrighteous rulers, that he may purge Jerusalem from nations that trample her to destruction.

Wisely, righteously he shall thrust out sinners from the inheritance; he shall destroy the pride of the sinner as a potter’s vessel.

With a rod of iron he shall break in pieces all their substance, he shall destroy the godless nation with the word of his mouth; at his rebuke nations shall fall before him, and he shall reprove sinners for the thoughts of their heart.

He shall gather together a holy people, whom he shall lead in righteousness, and he shall judge the tribes of the people that have been sanctified by the Lord his God.   

And he shall not allow unrighteousness to lodge any more in their midst, nor shall there dwell with them any man who knows wickedness, for he shall know them, that they are all sons of their God. (Pss. Sol. 17:23–30)

This describes a righteous ruler who purges evil and destroys the wicked and leads the people of God in holiness. There is strength and sanctification. There is might and morality. 

This was the prevailing view of the Messiah in Jesus day. Scribes connected the Messiah and the son of David.

But what was missing? Divinity. This Messiah was a really, really good guy. But he wasn’t God in the flesh.  He was just another David-like king.

And now we can see the preoccupation in Israel at this time with the Messiah. And this was actually what God had wanted from his people. He wanted them to live expectantly, and dependently upon his promises:

The prophets all spoke of better days ahead. Isaiah spoke of better days with righteous judgments and peace. It is riveting to read Isaiah 9 and 11—the people who walk in darkness will see a great light… their oppression will cease… God will establish the kingdom upon the wonderful counselor, the prince of peace.

Jeremiah said days are coming when you will have a wise king reigning in David’s family (Jeremiah 33). Ezekiel said this servant from David’s family would be a shepherd who would feed them spiritually (Ezekiel 34). Hosea recounted that there would be a return to the Lord (Hosea 3), there would be goodness in the last days, and Amos promised that God would rebuild what was ruined as things were in the days of old (Amos 9).

This is the stage. This is the spirit of the age.

Now with this in mind so many passages come flooding into our thinking. 

John the Baptist coming as a forerunner to prepare the way of the Lord and make ready God’s people. And Jesus came announcing the kingdom of God Mark 1 says. John was preaching in Mark 1:7, “after me is One coming mightier than I.” 

Andrew heard John the Baptist preaching about Jesus in John 1:41 and ran to tell his brother “we have found the Messiah.” A might one. That sounds very Messianic.

John of course knew Jesus was the Christ, even though he doubted it in prison (Matthew 11:2). And it was everywhere. Mark 1:5 says all of the Israel was going out to him. This message was everywhere. No one hadn’t heard about it.

Throughout Israel this conversation was happening. John 7:26, which takes place one year prior to this the people are saying, “the rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?”

A few verses later the crowds are believing in Jesus and they were saying, “when the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” Immediately the Pharisees and the chief priests wig out and try to seize him.

That was a year ago. That was then, and this was now. One more year of notoriety. One more year of increasing popularity. One more year of consistent and faithful preaching, teaching, healing.

Just days ago blind Bartimaeus is shouting “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” In Mark 10:47. Then as Jesus enters Israel there are massive crowds shouting, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David.”

That’s the mindset right now. That’s the air of the day. There’s buzz about the kingdom, conversations of the coming kingdom and the Messiah. There is a great deal of attention and controversy surrounding Jesus and his identity.

It feels like election season and we are nearing voting day and there’s this huge surge of energy and expectations are through the roof.

Now Jesus is going to bring Scripture to bear on this issue. What a privilege that must have been. I mean we have the written record of the summary of his sermons, and the whole Scripture is his word, but that must have been incredible to hear him explain and apply Scripture.

3 Considerations for Understanding Our Glorious Christ (35-37)

  1. The prevailing expectations in Israel (35)

  2. The proper perspective from Scripture (36)

Jesus quotes the Scripture by introducing it saying…

(36) “David himself said in the Holy Spirit, 

Jesus is clarifying that when he quotes David here, it is … 

Upping the accountability here… not just David. But God through David.

2 Samuel 23:1–2—1 Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, the man who was raised on high declares, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, 2 “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.

He quotes Psalm 110:1—

‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.” ’ 

Psalm 110 is the single-most-quoted Psalm in the New Testament. Places such as Hebrews 1:3, (Cf., Psalm 24 and 68).

Here the two offices of priest and king are combined. Yet to happen. Sure, David did a few priestly duties, but he wasn’t a priest. He wasn’t a Levite, but from the tribe of Judah.

Now comes the challenge. He isn’t just David’s son, but he’s David’s God. 

What is in view is the relationship of the Davidic sonship to the Messiah’s transcendent majesty. Among the scribes this would be recognized as a Haggada-question, a question of exegesis concerned with the reconciliation of two seemingly contradictory points of view expressed in Scripture… Jesus, then, posed the question how the Davidic descent of the Messiah (which is attested by the Scriptures) is to be harmonized with the equally supported affirmation that the Messiah is David’s Lord.

Psalm 110—A Psalm of David. 1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” 

It’s as if God has given David the opportunity to eavesdrop on a conversation that has taken place in the heavens above amongst the first two members of the Trinity. The Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son and Spirit involves communication and speak (we see that starting Genesis 1 as God discusses creation with himself).

Here’s a moment with Father and Son.

Look at David’s connection to Christ. You want to see a personal Christ in the Old Testament, it’s right here. YHWY says to my Lord. As Thomas would say to Jesus, my Lord and my God!

Key verse of the whole deal is right here. If you are in Israel right now, you are looking at 600+ years since the monarchy failed. You’ve been without a king since 586 B.C.

Sitting at the right hand is co-regent. It is ruling alongside. It is the highest position of honor, equality and authority, without usurping. Equal to the Father in every way.

And he is sitting. 

His work on the cross having been completed he is ascended into heaven and he sits in submission to the Father’s perfect timing, waiting for the Father to subdue his enemies before him. 

Future rule coming:

(2) The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” 

Enemies will be subdued through a powerful scepter of authority.

(3) Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew. 

He has the hearts of his people in service to him.

(4) The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” 

He serves in a priestly line, not as a physical descendent of Aaron in the tribe of Levi, but of a priesthood that comes from God.

(5) The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. 

He is going to destroy—shatter, literally obliterate every other world power and monarch in his day of anger and judgement. In fact…

(6) He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. 7 He will drink from the brook by the wayside; therefore He will lift up His head.

Uncontested, unrivaled authority as he judges and then meads out judgment. Incredible picture of divine authority. And Israel affirmed this entire Psalm is messianic. This is the ruler we are waiting for.

But in glorying in this passage they didn’t comprehend what it meant for the Messiah to be a priest according to the order of Melichizedek (a reference to divine origin) or David’s lord (a reference to divine origin).

They read it and came away with a human Messiah.

This passage was never up for debate until Jesus.

Universally the scribes considered it Messianic—right here in our passage today. Jesus considers it messianic. Peter considers it Messianic (Acts 2:34-35). Paul considers it Messianic (1 Corinthians 15:25). The preacher in Hebrews considers it Messianic (Hebrews 1:3).

Everyone believes it’s messianic… until now. Jesus applies the specific issue in question form now.

  1. The prevailing expectations in Israel (35)

  2. The proper perspective from Scripture (36)

  3. The proceeding reaction in the Temple (37)

(37) “David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” 

Or as Matthew records it:

Matthew 22:45—“If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” 

How can you have a kid and then call him your God?

That only works if your son is also divine: i.e., the Son of God. This was the very thing that Jesus claimed of himself, a point greatly contested by the Pharisees. He was charged instead with blasphemy (for claiming to be God, when he wasn’t God).

In less than 72 hours at a rigged trial he is going to be asked by the high priest, “are you the Christ?” (Mark 14:61). Then before Pilate, “are you the king of the Jews?” (Mark 15:2). This is the claim. There is no mistaking it.

You know that Jews did here, by and large? They suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. They silenced what was obvious.

Historically we find out that Jewish scholars changed their position on Psalm 110. It was messianic until Jesus and then the interpretation changed. David must be speaking of Melchizedek or Abraham.

Liberal scholars say that David must have been mistaken in what he wrote. We have some kind of error here.

Silencing the truth. Suppressing the truth. Avoiding the truth. It demands a response and there is a conflict it is between you and God. Who are you going to trust? That’s the issue here.

See, here’s the problem.

Jesus has claimed deity. He has been restrained. He isn’t shouting it daily at the top of his lungs. But everyone here in the temple right can connect the dots. They know that he is claiming to be one with God and then saying that David’s messiah is God.

John 5:17-18— But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 5:21—“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.

John 5:36—But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.

John 5:39–40—39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

John 5:46—For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.

John 7:25–31—25 So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? 26 “Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they? 27 “However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.” 28 Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 “I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” 30 So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. 31 But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?”

John 8:38—“I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”

John 8:58–59—Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

John 10:31–33—The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

It makes me feel sad and kind of sick to my stomach to realize these people hate God. Oh they want a messiah. They want deliverance. They want relief. They want the effects of the fall and the difficulties of life to go away.

But a Divine king? A Divine Savior? No.

They respond the way we are used to them responding.

Matthew 22:46—No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.

Truly this is a deadly silence. The crowd on the other hand isn’t really any better. The difference is that they are superficially accepting of Jesus. Today they would claim to be Christians who embrace Jesus Christ, but are not saved.

And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him. 

The crowd is enjoying it.

Oh they love it. Jesus makes them feel good. Jesus is impressive. They like their life more when they consider him then when they don’t. They would go home that night talking about what a great sermon he preached from Psalm 110 and how exciting things were. What amazing insights he had from the text.

They are loving it. But Jesus is no more their God-man savior than he is for the scribes. They aren’t bowing the knee in worship. They’re gonna adopt a mob-mentality and crucify him in a matter of hours.

These people wanted a messiah to give them national independence and national prominence. And peace and prosperity and freedom from evil influences. And so the folly is wanting the gifts of God is not the same as wanting God himself.

Remember the conversation Jesus just had that was lingering in everyone’s hearing that Tuesday in the temple?

Mark 12:30—and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 

Here is Israel God who is asking to be loved. Many people do love him. We have records of them. Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus. Jairus. The woman with the issue of blood. The Gerosene demoniac. The blind men outside of Jericho. The Syrophonecian woman. Peter’s  mother-in-law. The twelve disciples. Mary, Martha and Lazarus. John the Baptist and his disciples.

What happened to them? They connected the dots.

And so we see why Matthew and Luke in their Gospels explain the lineage of Jesus. He was the physical son of Mary the legal son of Joseph. His heritage in the Davidic monarchy was never argued by the religious leaders.

They would have if they could have, but they couldn’t because Jesus is the Messiah.

Praise God that we don’t have a merely human Messiah. Think of all the people who have lived and died hoping in an earthly general or an earthly monarchy. It doesn’t matter if you get the ruler that you want or the president that you want. Our hope isn’t in temporary relief from negative circumstances.

Our hope is in Jesus Christ, the Divine Messiah who came to save us from our sins.