The sincere pursuit of true wisdom will inevitably lead to God.
Then Yeshua said to them, “How can they say that the Messiah is Ben-David? For David Himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘ADONAI said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”‘ David then calls Him ‘Lord’; so how is He his son?” [TLV]
This is kind of a difficult passage to get a handle on. After much lucubration last night, well, I’m still a little confused. But not as much! And let me tell you, nothing outweighs prayer and listening when it comes to Scripture reading. Study is good, but praying it, meditating upon it, and listening to the Holy Spirit through it–way better!
The take-away for me here is that God is always transcending our pre-conceived notions of Him, as well as our own images of God. Encountering God is ever new, ever surprising, as Jesus was ever surprising to the Jewish people of His day.
It was a quite popular mindset in the Judaism of the first century that the Messiah would definitely come through the line of David, and under him the golden age would come and Israel would become the greatest nation in the world. It was a dream of political power (and quite understandable when you study the history). Some great descendent of David would come and be an invincible captain and king. So this idea of the Son of David was mixed with world dominion, military prowess, and material conquest.
Jesus came to set the record straight.
Jesus told them, and tells us, to revise your idea of Messiah, of God. I love in the movie Get Shorty how John Travolta’s character, Chili Palmer, would answer the question “Who are you?” with “I’m the one telling you how it is.” Well, we see he stole that line from Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the one telling us how it is. Setting us straight. Telling us the truth about God.
In this pericope, Jesus is saying, in essence, “You think of the coming Messiah as Son of David. True, He is. But He is far more than that. He is Lord.” Jesus, quoting from Psalm 110, emphasizes that He is Lord of David, indeed, Lord of all. Jesus interprets Scripture as God meant it. Being born in the lineage of David is not as important as Him being greater than David, greater than all, Lord of all. He tells them to revise their thoughts and expectations of Messiah. He tells them to abandon their fantastic dreams of world power, and visualize the Messiah as the Lord of the hearts and lives of humans. They had too little an idea of God. Thankfully that never happens today…
I love William Barclay’s commentary on this passage: “It is always man’s tendency to make God in his own image, and thereby to miss the full majesty of God.”
God’s mercies are new every morning. God is new to us everyday–if we allow Him to be. We don’t get God more and more figured out. We get more and more blown away, surprised, and humbled by Him. Any true God encounter will leave you humbled to your core, in reverential awe. If not, then perhaps you’ve encountered someone else. Don’t get me wrong, there’s also a confidence that goes with encountering God, and a deep sense of being seen, known, and loved. But He is the almighty Creator of the universe, and of you. Meeting that person tends to cause slight trembling, temporary loss of speech, and the sudden desire to take your shoes off.
The appeal to Psalm 110:1 defines Jesus’ lordship as one vindicated by God, giving him an inseparable place with God and the execution of divine power and authority. It forces a choice. Either Jesus is who he claims to be or he is a blasphemer.
-Darrell L. Bock