Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matthew 22:41-42a (Holman) While the Pharisees were together,
Jesus questioned them, “What do you think about the Messiah?”
The questioned One became the questioner. Taking on the Pharisees as a group, Jesus singlehandedly outwitted their collective ability. Jesus liked to give His opponents the home field advantage. God enjoys winning when His opponents seem to have every advantage against Him. This gives His children confidence in His ability to help them whatever the situation.
Jesus asked the Pharisees their thoughts on the Messiah. Even in our spiritually dead nature, God enables us to think, to reason, to ponder spiritual truths. Despite this fact, some never think about the Messiah at all.
Pastor C. S. Robinson asked a man what he thought of Jesus. When the man frankly replied he did not think about Jesus, Robinson asked if he had been born in a year B.C. or A.D., before Christ or Year of our Lord?
Every time we write the date we commemorate the birth of Jesus, yet many have never taken time to ponder the One whose life was so significant that it divides time. His birth shook humanity. It is the ultimate earthquake of history, totally off the chart on the spiritual Richter Scale. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, you owe it to yourself to investigate His claims.
Matt. 22:42b-43a “Whose Son is He?” “David’s,” they told Him. He
asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, . .”
The Jews universally believed Messiah would directly descend from King David. Had Jesus been born about 75 years later, we could not have verified His royal earthly ancestry. The Jews kept meticulous records till the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. None of Jesus’ contemporaries, including His bitterest enemies, ever contested Jesus’ ancestry. Had they disproved the Davidic genealogy, their case would have been won by default, but God ordained Messiah would come while the genealogical records still existed. In the fullness of time, at precisely the right moment, Jesus came (Gal. 4:4).
In questioning the Pharisees, Jesus returned to His much used, and always trusted, authority: The Bible. He said the Old Testament had Divine authority. Its writers were “inspired by the Spirit”. Jesus believed every word in Scripture. In the Bible, look not only for overarching concepts. Reverently weigh each phrase. The Holy Spirit inspired every word in it.
Knowing Jesus as presented in Scripture is our only hope of getting it right about Messiah’s role in the Kingdom. Israel’s conceptions of what Christ should be did not jive with reality. This led to national disaster. To be wrong in our understanding of Jesus is to be wrong everywhere. If we think amiss about Jesus, we speak and act amiss. We cannot make up a fairy tale Jesus to satisfy our imaginations. Our beliefs must be rooted in Scripture.
Matt. 22:43b . . .calls Him “Lord”?
Jesus will now use this question to call attention to Psalm 110, which in His day was unanimously believed to be a Messianic Psalm. It is the most frequently quoted Old Testament chapter in the New Testament. Pastor James Boice claimed it is quoted over 27 times. It is a garden of proof texts (Buttrick) to validate and buttress Jesus is the Son of God, Messiah.
Psalm 110 is for sure the greatest and clearest Messianic Psalm. This Psalm (110:4) emphasized Messiah would be a priest like Melchizedek: no beginning, no end, Heaven-sent, establishing an unchangeable priesthood.
Matt. 22:44a The Lord declared to my Lord, . . .
This quote of Psalm 110:1a comprises one of the most significant utterances in the history of speech. David is the observer, the one speaking. The first “Lord” is the Tetragrammaton YHWH, the holy name of God. Jews considered God’s name too holy to be spoken. To prevent breaking the third command by taking God’s name in vain, they refused to speak it out loud.
To prevent Hebrew readers from slipping, and accidentally pronouncing the name, vowels of the word adonai (Lord) were superimposed on the consonants YHWH, thereby creating a word that was not a part of standard vocabulary. Our word “Jehovah” was an effort to translate this vowel/consonant combination. We now know Yahweh is the proper pronunciation. Out of respect to Jewish sensitivity, English Bibles have usually not used the name of God. Instead, they use the word “Lord”, with the O R and D being capital letters smaller than the L. This occurs over 5000 times in the Hebrew Bible. For instance, Psalm 23 begins in the Hebrew with YHWH, but we say “The Lord”. If you look at the verse in the KJV and most modern translations, you see the smaller capital letters.
The second “Lord” in our text is adonai, which means Lord or master. You can see it is not the holy name because o r and d are lower case letters.
Matt. 22:44b . . . Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under
There is no doubt the second “Lord” refers to Messiah. He is the One who sits at God’s right hand, the place of rest and rule, of honor and safety.
The highest honor at court a King could bestow was to seat someone at his right hand. The King could always consult with someone at his right hand, and the person so honored had freedom to talk with the King. For Christ-followers, this phrase “At God’s right hand” has become dear beyond words. It blesses us to think our Lord is holding the seat of honor and peace.
This is also the seat of power. Our choice is stark yet simple: friends of Jesus or His footstools. His enemies will lie in the dust beneath His feet.
Matt. 22:45 “If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how then can the Messiah be
Jesus now explained the significance of the two “Lord-words”. David, inspired by the Spirit, had miraculously experienced a conversation: God the Father talking to God the Son. The King, a thousand years before Messiah was born, related the words he experienced, “YHWH said to my Lord.” In other words, the Messiah, “my Lord”, who would descend from David a thousand years later had already lived a thousand years before becoming David’s son. Messiah was David’s Lord before becoming David’s son.
The quandary is; fathers don’t call sons “Lord”. Sons are subservient to fathers, but here the roles are reversed. How can a person be superior and subservient, above and below, Lord and descendant, sovereign and subject?
Only one explanation is possible. It is true that Messiah was David’s son within history, but Messiah was also God’s Son throughout eternity.
Messiah would be a man, but could not be only a man. To be David’s Lord, Jesus had to be God. To be David’s descendant, Jesus had to be man.
This is the overwhelming verdict regarding Jesus’ Person in the New Testament, where all our beliefs must be grounded. John the Beloved recorded His dear Friend’s claim, “I am the Root and Offspring of David” (RV 22:16). Jesus is root, God, Ancient of Days. He is offspring, man, baby. The crucifixion proved His humanity. The resurrection proved His deity.
Messiah would have to be God made flesh: one person, two natures; fully God, fully man. The Jews could hardly fathom this thought. For them, God was too holy, and human flesh too sinful, for the two to ever bond.