Scripture: Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘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 is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. Matthew 22:34-40 ESV
[Click here to read the entire chapter.]
Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, the Pharisees are losing patience with those who failed to expose Jesus as a fraud. So they send one of their lawyers to pose the question of which is the greatest commandment in the law. But the wisest man to walk the earth quotes the law back to the lawyer: he cites Deuteronomy 6:5. Then, appealing to the second half of Leviticus 19:18, Jesus adds that the second greatest commandment is similar to the first: Love our neighbors as ourselves. He ends the conversation by noting all the historical writings of God’s laws and prophecies hang on these two commandments.
Today’s reading marks the last confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders in the temple court on this Tuesday of Passion Week. The next time they will see each other will be in the early morning hour on the Friday of Passion Week when the high priest and the Sanhedrin will conduct their kangaroo court to convict Jesus of blasphemy under the cloak of darkness. Ironically, Jesus, fully knowing what awaited him in a matter of days, beats the Pharisees to the punch, drawing on their earlier tactics of appealing to Scripture to expose him as a fraud and blasphemer. This time, though, he asks questions that focus on his identity (the paramount issue the religious leaders should have pursued with him earlier but for fear of the crowds).
Knowing the Scriptures fully (more below), the Pharisees immediately reply, “The Son of David” (based on passages like 2 Samuel 7:13-14, Isaiah 11:1, and Jeremiah 23:5). So Jesus rattles their closed minds with a follow-up question regarding what David, led by the Spirit (an essential point of authenticity), meant when he declared: “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool” (Psalm 110:1 ESV). Not waiting for an answer, Jesus asks a third and final question that silences the Pharisees: “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (verse 45 above). Here, Jesus suggests that David refers not to Solomon as some held but to the Messiah (more below).
Of further consideration, the parallel passages in Mark (12:35-37) and Luke (20:41-44) do not tell us that Jesus directed his questions specifically to the Pharisees. But Matthew, the only disciple of these three synoptic-Gospel authors, likely remembered this detail and delighted with the crowd (as Mark notes in 12:37) in seeing those power-grabbing religious leaders who condescended toward them put in their place.
Takeaway: Psalm 110:1, attributed to David, waxes poetically about the sovereign power of the Lord seated at the right hand of the Lord and of his coming day of judgment against godless earthly rulers. At its center point, we read the most critical evidence that dismisses Solomon or any other human king: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (verse 4 ESV). Indeed, the author of Hebrews appeals to this verse to prove that Jesus is the Great High Priest (5:6) who has ushered in a better and new covenant (7:17).
Regarding the Pharisees’ superior familiarity with Scripture, as in previous Daily Focus devotions, knowledge, as it pertains to Scripture, means much more than a base of information. It involves intimate awareness of the source of our information, which is why Jesus, in his Great High Priestly Prayer, states that to know the Father and himself as Jesus Christ is eternal life (John 17:3). Those, like the Pharisees, who deny that Jesus is the Christ, are devoid of saving knowledge of his sonship and destined for eternal separation where they will only know the anguish of evil.
Our takeaway? Get to know Jesus Christ. Okay, so what does this mean? Read the Bible? Go to church? Pray? Yes, but these disciplines alone will not draw us closer to the Father and Son unless we are motivated by his supernatural love and our hunger to want more, for we love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). So what does this look like as we press through the everyday routine? We see beyond the three dimensions of our home, workplace, and the streets of our cities to the spiritual dimension of Christ working in our midst. We see fingerprints and patterns of the divine that sparks us to give thanks and praise to our Creator. We develop a keener awareness of Christ reconciling, redeeming, and restoring. And we grow in patience, knowing that whether we face good times or bad, our Father and Son work all things for our good (Romans 8:28).
So if our earnest desire is to know Christ, then his Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen us to persevere in pursuit of a more profound and intimate knowledge of our Lord and Savior, even when everything seems to work against us—as did David. And like David, we will not be disappointed.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, our Christ, who will return to judge the world, eternally banish evil and sin, and make all things new. Meanwhile, as we navigate our sin-marred world, we are keenly aware that we are prone to stray and need to develop a more profound and intimate knowledge of you and your Son to stay on track. So would you please help us to submit to the sanctifying work of your Holy Spirit so that we might develop a more mature knowledge and love for your Son and see and discern him serving his spiritual realm on earth? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
Leave a Reply