David’s Prophecy of Christ
“How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in 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. So how is he his son?” (vv. 35b–37a).- Mark 12:35–37
Following Jesus’ conversation with the scribe about the greatest commandment, Mark notes, “And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:34b). Essentially, the second evangelist calls our attention to Christ’s having not only answered effectively those who tried to trap Him but having answered them so definitively that they would not even try to argue against Him (see vv. 1–34a). That does not mean, however, that the question-and-answer sessions were over. Instead, Jesus took His place of rightful authority and began asking questions of His opponents.
In the temple, the seat of Jewish religious authority, Christ called that authority into doubt by questioning its understanding of the Messiah’s identity. Implicitly, Jesus said the scribes missed the mark in calling the Messiah the “son of David” (v. 35). Jesus was not saying that the title was itself inappropriate, for He Himself is the Messiah and the Son of David (Matt. 1:1–17; 16:13–20). He was saying that the scribal understanding of what it means to be the Son of David and the Messiah was inadequate. Many Jews expected a Messiah who was merely human—a great man, but only a man. But this view was—and remains—inadequate, as Jesus demonstrated on the day He posed the question about the Messiah and the son of David.
Jesus turned to Psalm 110, the single most frequently cited Old Testament text in the New Testament. In this psalm, written by David, the king of Israel makes reference to two Lords. In the original Hebrew of the psalm, the first “Lord” translates the Hebrew word Yahweh, God’s covenant name. The second “Lord” translates the Hebrew word Adonai, a title usually given to Yahweh in the Old Testament. Jesus is pointing out that the Messiah, who is one of the sons of David, is also much more. He is one to whom God Himself gives the title of deity. In other words, the Messiah is truly man and truly God.
Thus, we cannot help but conclude today’s study with the words of Augustine of Hippo from his sermon on the parallel to today’s passage in Matthew 22: “Christ is both David’s Son, and David’s Lord: David’s Lord always, David’s Son in time: David’s Lord, born of the substance of His Father, David’s Son, born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Ghost. . . . Unless our Lord Jesus Christ had vouchsafed to become man, man had perished. He was made that which He made, that what He made might not perish. Very Man, Very God; God and man, the whole Christ.”
The church’s confession that Jesus is both truly God and truly man goes right back to the self-understanding of the Lord Himself. He proclaimed His humanity and deity; therefore, so must we. We are not preaching the whole Christ unless we proclaim His true manhood and His true deity. Because He is man, He could atone for the sins of mankind. Because He is God, this atonement can cover all of our sins past, present, and future.
Passages for Further Study