Whose Son is the Messiah?
Matthew Lesson #138
October 2, 2016
“Father, we are so thankful for Your Word, that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path, and that it is the means by which we are sanctified, by which we grow and mature. It is because it is in Your Word that we learn who You are, who we are, and all that You have provided for us through Your grace through our position in Jesus Christ.
Father, it is through Your Word that we learn who Jesus Christ is, we learn of the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament predicting One who would come, who would solve the problem of sin and have victory over the seed of the serpent.
Father, as we study today we come to a focal point on who Jesus is as the Messiah, focusing on not only the interchange with the Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew, but also of the Old Testament prophecy in Psalm 110 related to the identity of the Messiah.
Father, we pray that You would strengthen our understanding of who Jesus is as we study Your Word, and also that we will be more mindful of the importance of understanding the Old Testament and its use in the New Testament—the Old Testament proclamations and prophecies of Messiah—that we may have greater conviction of who Jesus is as our Savior.
And we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 22:41, and we are going to look at six verses here that are fairly short. There is, as it were, not a tremendous amount of depth here, but that’s a little misleading because we have to understand it within the Old Testament context.
It is always important when we go through Matthew, as I have done in the series, to take the time when we have these quotations, these references to Old Testament prophecies and promises in various passages, that we go back to the Old Testament to understand what is being said, why it is being said, and how it fits into the picture of identifying who this Jesus of Nazareth is.
The New Testament didn’t just sort of drop out of the sky without a context, but the context goes back to the creation, goes back to Genesis 1. If we’re going to identify who Jesus is, we need to start with Genesis 1 and not start with Matthew or Luke or John.
This becomes more and more true today in our culture, as we live in a world that is more and more biblically and historically illiterate. I don’t say that in any kind of a judgmental tone, just to reference the fact that they are not knowledgeable of the Bible. They don’t know the Bible.
In previous generations, you could pretty much assume that if you mentioned or talked about Jesus that they had a fairly good idea of who Jesus was. They would have a fairly good idea of what Christmas was all about—that it celebrates the birth of Jesus. They may not really understand a whole lot about the plan of salvation or the gospel or some of the spiritual truths related to that, but they had just from cultural understanding a knowledge of certain things about the Judeo-Christian worldview.
But we don’t live in that kind of a world anymore. I want to encourage you, that if you are a Christian and you’re trying to communicate the gospel to somebody, not to assume that they know these facts. In fact, probably for much of our lives, that’s been true.
I remember, with some shock, back when I was in the seventh grade, my English teacher mentioned, we read something, I don’t remember what it was, in class at that time, but somehow it brought something related to the Bible into the picture. It may have been a story related to Christmas, and she told my class that she had had a student earlier in the day say, “Well, who is Jesus? I never heard of Him before.”
That was a few decades ago, so if that was true of the one or two people in Houston, Texas several decades ago, it’s probably even more true of numerous people. Maybe 40%, 50%, 60% of people who live in Houston don’t have any idea of who Jesus is, even if we live in part of the “Bible Belt”.
So when we’re explaining the gospel to folks, it’s helpful to really identify people. But you can’t just start off with Jesus in Matthew, you have to start off with talking about the Old Testament and how the Gospels fit into that and understand something about this, so that they have a sense of who God is. We live in such a multicultural and diverse city now that you can talk to people about who God is and they may not have any idea who the Judeo-Christian God is. So you can’t just assume because they say they believe in God that what they mean about God is what you mean about God.
We need to start with the beginning, so that they have some idea who God is. That gives meaning to an understanding of what sin is, and eventually, who Jesus is and why He had to die on the Cross.
When we come to passages like this, there is an assumption, because of the context, that those who were the original recipients, who were Jewish Christians, Jewish believers in Jesus as Messiah, that they understood and knew the Old Testament. Matthew uses more quotes and more allusions to the Old Testament than any of the other Gospel writers. This episode in Matthew 22:41–46 is also recorded in Mark and Luke as well, and is part of our understanding, a very important part of our understanding, of who Jesus is as the Messiah.
I titled this lesson, “Whose Son is the Messiah?” because that is the focal point of Jesus’ question to those who are challenging Him.
Now let’s just go back a minute and remember the context a little bit. This goes back to a time when Jesus has just entered into Jerusalem. It’s the last week before the crucifixion. He’s entered into Jerusalem. He was recognized and praised by many of His followers and people from Jerusalem as He entered into Jerusalem. He is praised as the King, and He is welcomed as the King, and they understand that He is the One who’s come to offer the Kingdom to Israel. They are singing praises from Psalm 118, indicating that they clearly understand who He is. That’s the background, and we went through an extensive study of that.
The next day and the couple days following, as He came into Jerusalem, He’s confronted by the religious leaders, by the Herodians, by the Pharisees, by the Sadducees, and each group is challenging Him.
We saw in Matthew 21:28–22:22 that you have these parables that are ultimately parables of judgment. Each one of them develops an answer to the question about Jesus’ authority.
The Pharisees say, “By whose authority do you do this?” They are not asking it because they want to know, because they are positive. They’re asking it in a condemnatory fashion. They do not believe He has authority to say or do the things that He has been doing.
We went through these parables. Each one involves a father, a son or sons, and the rejection of the father’s authority. As we went through those, I pointed out how it became very clear to the Pharisees that Jesus was talking about them.
In Matthew 21:45 we read, “Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking about them.” They understood already that He is talking about a judgment that is going to come upon them, and so that leads to a reaction.
He is speaking to the Pharisees; He’s not talking to the crowd. He is speaking to them and making clear that they have rejected God, they rejected God’s plan, they rejected Him as Messiah, and they will come under judgment. Each one builds a case for God’s rejection of the religious leaders of Israel, even as they are rejecting Jesus as His Son. They are already beginning to conspire against Jesus in order to seek His death.
In Matthew 21:46 it says, “But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.”
Then they decided to set up some questions to try to trap Him. The purpose was either to get Him to commit to a position that would violate the laws of Rome, and therefore, He would be arrested, or to get Him to say something that would cause the crowds, the multitudes, to reject Him.
They asked three sets of questions, which we’ve been studying for several weeks. First of all, is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? That’s covered in Matthew 22:15–25. This was the Pharisees who came together and “plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk,” that’s Matthew 22:15.
Then the second question came from the Sadducees. This is interesting that the Sadducees and the Pharisees in this particular situation have come together and allied themselves against Jesus.
I’ve been doing further reading and studying up on this, and I pointed out the hostility that existed between the two. But I ran into some information this last week that we just don’t quite grasp the depth of the hostility that existed between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Both of these groups developed after the Israelites had returned from the 70-year captivity in Babylon. In that context is the rebuilding of the temple, they completed the temple, there is a desire on the part of Ezra and the other leaders leading up to the time of Nehemiah that they need to teach the people the Scriptures, so that the people do not fall into the trap of idolatry that they had, which led up to the defeat and divine discipline by Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar.
As they’ve returned, what happens is you develop a couple of different groups, religious groups, within Israel, and they have different approaches as to how to accomplish this. You have the conservatives who are the Pharisees and the liberals who are the Sadducees. Then as you fast-forward, we come to the period where the Jews have revolted against the Syrian leaders, the Antiochene leaders out of Syria. They’ve established their own kingdom through the Maccabean revolt, and Hasmonean leaders who are extremely corrupt, and they’ve allied themselves, they’re priests, but they have made themselves kings.
This just really angered the Pharisees, because in Israel there is a separation between the priesthood and the kingship. That’s part of the background for what we see a little bit in our passage. But they had merged these together.
So you have one group, the Essenes, who decided that they’re just fed up with the whole process (kind of like some of you and politics right now), and they decide they’re going to go live in the desert. There’s a belief that the Essenes were the background for the people who lived out in the desert at Qumran. But the Pharisees are still present in Jerusalem, and they’re just hostile to the Sadducees. They would go to festivals and they would throw rotten fruit at the priests in the middle of the services.
That really endeared them to the Sadducees, so much so that at one point, the Sadducees had 90 Pharisees arrested, and they hung them all. But before they hung them, they killed their children in front of them, so that the last thing they saw before they died was the death of their children.
By the time you get to the time of Jesus, things had calmed down somewhat because of the power of Rome. Rome was not going to put up with all of this religious conflict that had been going on for a hundred years or more, and so that brought a level of stability. So, you see there is no love lost between these two groups.
When the Sadducees come along, they asked this question about the resurrection, and whose wife is this woman going to be after she’s gone through seven different husbands, one brother after another according to the levirate marriage laws. Jesus just shut them down with that question, so that they didn’t have an answer, we’re told in Matthew 22:34, “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.”
They were rather gleeful that this has happened. They are just as happy as they can be because their enemies have been shut down. Now they think they can shut down Jesus.
So we saw the third question, Matthew 22:36, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?”
First of all, to love the Lord your God with every ounce of your being, with all your soul, mind, and strength, and that secondly, Matthew 22:39, “to love your neighbor as yourself.”
There’s an implied condemnation there from Jesus, because of the way He developed this—we went through the Good Samaritan parable last week—the way Jesus has presented Himself as the Messiah. He is clearly not a Samaritan, so He is more obviously their neighbor, even though the Samaritan was a neighbor. It’s very clear He’s also Jewish, so therefore, they should be loving Him as they love themselves. But they’re plotting to kill Him. So there’s this undertone there of condemnation against the Pharisees, because He’s pointing out that they’re not loving Him as they should according to the Law.
Furthermore, if He is the Messiah, and He is who He claims to be, and He is God, then they’re not loving God either. They have violated the covenant. There is this very definite undertone of condemnation in the Pharisees that continues in this interchange. It will only intensify when we get to this counter question that Jesus asked in Matthew 22:41–46, “Whose Son is He?”
As we look at the passage, the Pharisees are gathered together to challenge Jesus, to try to trip Him up, and now He’s basically shut them down. The Mark parallel passage says that after there’s the interchange about the greatest commandment, once again the Pharisees were shut down, and they did not know what to ask Him or what to say, and they no longer would ask Him anything.
While they’re there, Jesus asks them. Now, I think a better translation of this was, Matthew 22:42, “When the Pharisees had gathered together” because that the “while gathered” is a participle, SUNAGO, which is the verb form of SUNAGOGE. SUNAGOGE is a synagogue, and so it’s a place of assembly, the place where people come together. It’s a perfect participle. I always point these things out because that’s completed action. It’s not “while,” that indicates while something is going on. It’s after or when they had fully gathered together.
So apparently, after the last interchange, they sort of get together among themselves, and they are trying to figure out what they’re going to ask. They can’t come up with anything. So when they complete this, Jesus is going to ask them a question. He’s going to begin to interrogate them with just one clear, precise question that will expose their rejection of the truth of the Old Testament. It will expose their rejection of God and their rejection of what the Torah taught about the Messiah.
So He asked the question, Matthew 22; 42, “What do you think about the Christ?”
The word “Christ” is a transliteration into English of the Greek word CHRISTOS, which means “the Anointed One.” It has the idea of someone who’s anointed or set aside or appointed for a particular task. It is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which has the same meaning, “the Anointed One” or “the Appointed One”.
So in Hebrew when we talk about Jesus Christ, the Hebrew is Yeshua Hamashiach, the Messiah. It’s important to emphasize that that’s what we’re saying when we talk about Jesus Christ. We are making a statement that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Promised Anointed or Appointed One from the Old Testament.
So He asked this question. “What do you think about Christ? Whose Son is He?” We get a little bit of an insight into how Jesus talks here.
We also get insight from the Gospel of John for different reasons in longer discourses, but Jesus would say things in different ways. He’ll ask a question, and He would ask it again using a little different language. Sometimes He would say things one way and repeat it and say it just a little differently, which any good teacher will do to make sure people understand what he’s saying.
That’s why you see some minor differences between Gospels. It is not that the Gospel writers are putting something Jesus said into their own words or summarizing it, but because when Jesus said something, He didn’t just say it one way. He would say it and repeat the question using slightly different language to get the point across.
The reason I say that is because part of what we’ll see in just a minute in this passage is that this passage is also an important verse for understanding some of the issues related to the debate over the inspiration of Scripture, the source of Scriptures. Scripture has its ultimate source in God or its ultimate source in man. Today we’re living in a new era or new stage in the battle for the Bible.
When we talk about the battle for the Bible, we’re talking about the battles that have gone on, especially in the last 250 years or so, related to the authority, the inspiration, the origin of the Scriptures. About every generation we go through this battle again, and this is going to be the topic of our Chafer Pastors’ Conference next March (2017). This is going to be very, very important. We’re going through this again.
Many of us who were in seminary, or out of seminary in ministry in the late 70’s,were familiar with the very extensive document that was put together by a group of theologians, and pastors, and Christian leaders, over 300 of them who gathered together in Chicago for a period of time and crafted an extremely extensive doctrinal statement on the inerrancy of Scripture that has become the platinum standard for defining the doctrine.
Yet today, many evangelicals who give lip service to their belief in inerrancy and infallibility don’t actually believe in it when you push them. One of the many of the ways that this is exposed is in some of the ways that these sayings of Jesus are challenged. For example, “Well, Matthew wrote it one way; Mark wrote it another way. You have scholars who say … You see, historiography in the first century wasn’t as precise as it is today, so this is fine for there to be these minor contradictions. They don’t really challenge inerrancy.” Yes, they do, and what you just said challenges your belief in inerrancy.
This is becoming more dominant at almost every major evangelical seminary in the country. You have faculty who have sort of watered this down, and it indicates a somewhat low view of Scripture. We really can’t put up with that. That’s what the battle for the Bible is all about.
Another dimension of that has to do also with what we’re studying today, and that is the reality of Messianic prophecy. Does the Old Testament really have genuine Messianic prophecies? It may surprise you that there are many faculty members in some of our favorite evangelical seminaries who do not believe that there are specific detailed, or any specific narrow prophecies, Messianic prophecies, in the Old Testament. It’s all just typology. We’ll get back into that in just a minute. So we get into some very, very important doctrines that underlie a study of this particular passage.
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?”
“They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ ”
They all believe that the Messiah would be a descendent of David. David was of the tribe of Judah. This is the King David of the Old Testament, the same David who fought and killed Goliath in the Valley of Elah that we are studying on Tuesday night. They understand that it is this David, the King David of Israel, who is the progenitor of the Messiah, the Messiah would come directly from his line. That would emphasize the humanity of the Messiah as well.
Jesus isn’t disagreeing with them, as far as it goes, because they’re right. But they’re only partially right, because the Messiah is going to be more than just a Son of David. That is what Jesus is focusing on in this particular passage.
When they reply, “The Son of David,” then Jesus is going to ask them another question that is going to put them on the horns of a dilemma, because He is going to bring out in this exchange that what David says in the Old Testament is to refer to the Messiah as Lord, putting Him on the level of deity that Yahweh has. That shows that the Messiah is not only a human Son of man, but He is also expected by Old Testament promises and prophecies to be fully divine.
That was something they weren’t willing to accept, and they know that this is part of what Jesus has been claiming, that He is the Son of God as well as the Son of man. If they admit that yes, David indicates that the Messiah is going to be God, then that would give legitimacy to Jesus’ claims. So that’s the dilemma that they face. If they agree with Jesus, then that’s going to undercut the opposition that they have to Jesus.
In Matthew 22:43-44 we read, “He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying, ‘The Lord said to My Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool?’ ”
Then He asked the question, Matthew 22:45, “If David then calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?” —or how could He be his Son if David is addressing this Messianic King as Lord, who is his descendent?
A couple of things we need to recognize that are going on in this passage here as something of background. First of all, when Jesus makes this statement, He introduces this in verse 43, He says, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord’?”
That brings out two things. First of all, that Jesus is affirming that Psalm 110—because that’s where the quote comes from—that Psalm 110 is written by David. This may surprise you, but there are a number of these evangelical scholars who reject any form of Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, who claim also, in order to come up with their alternate explanation of this passage, they say that this wasn’t written by David. It was written for David or about David. But the phraseology in the Hebrew says “A Psalm of David.”
The Hebrew is l Dawid, and that “l” that you heard me pronounce there at the beginning, the Hebrew letter lamedh is called “the lamedh of Authorship.” Over 80 times in the Psalms there’s this introductory statement “A Psalm of David.”
These writers and scholars will agree that in most of those other passages, it means that David wrote the Psalm, but you come to Psalm 110, and they say, “Oh, no.” If David wrote it, then they have a problem with their theology, so they say that David didn’t write it.
This is important because Psalm 110 is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. Psalm 110:1 is quoted several times and Psalm 110:4 is quoted several times. This is a critical Psalm. The New Testament writers and Jesus clearly affirmed Davidic authorship and that this Psalm is about the Messiah.
It is sort of interesting that a lot of people who may reject a narrow, tight view of Messianic prophecy in the Psalms, there’s a number of them that will be forced to admit that if there is a Messianic prophecy in the Psalms, it’s Psalm 110.
In fact, I don’t think that there is a single faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary who affirms that this is a Messianic prophecy in the narrow sense, and that’s been true for a number of years.
Some of you are familiar with Michael Rydelnik, who is the head of the Jewish studies department at Moody Bible Institute—by the way he’s going to be one of the speakers at the Pre-Trib Conference this year. If you have an opportunity to take off for a couple days, that would be a great thing to go to. It’s a tremendous Bible conference.
Dr. Rydelnik is going to be speaking, and he tells a story, some of you heard it when I played his testimony here a few years ago, that when he first went to Dallas, he was very tuned into this whole issue of whether there’s a strict Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament. He wanted to major in the Old Testament, so he interviewed all the faculty members at Dallas at the time, and he says not one of them held to a strict narrow view of Messianic prophecy. That was in 1978.
This is one of the reasons many of us have said—now I was an Old Testament major at Dallas as well—but many of us have said when Satan fell, he landed in the choir loft, because choirs have been the source of so much gossip and problems in churches. But others of us have amended that to say he landed in the choir loft, but he bounced into the Old Testament Department of our seminaries, because this kind of departure from strict views of inerrancy and infallibility have often originated in the Old Testament departments of evangelical seminaries.
Here the New Testament clearly states that Jesus says that David wrote the Psalm, and he did so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that he does it by the Holy Spirit. So, we have to be reminded a little bit about some of the statements that are made in the Scripture.
For example, in 2 Timothy 3:16–17, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” This says that all Scripture is breathed out by God “and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
The fact that it is “God breathed” tells us two things: #1 that the origin of Scripture is ultimately in God; and secondly, that He writes through human agency, and that He is able to somehow override the sin nature, and the weaknesses, and problems, of human beings, so that He can guarantee that the outcome is without error. Then we also know that it is through God the Holy Spirit that this process of inspiration takes place.
2 Peter 1:20–21, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” This is critical for us to understand the importance of divine inspiration here.
When we go back to our passage, Jesus says, David by the Spirit called Him “Lord”. This is emphasizing that as David wrote this Psalm, that he is writing under God’s direction by means of God the Holy Spirit, even though that is not mentioned in the text.
When Jesus brings this up, He then quotes from Psalm 110:1, and says, “The Lord said to My Lord, sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
This is an extremely important passage to understand, and so we’re going to have to stop here for the next two weeks and look at Psalm 110. We’ll just get started there. But He’s making a point that the way that the Old Testament passage reads is you have the first “Lord”, which is identified in Hebrew as Yahweh, this is the personal name of God, that Yahweh is speaking to a Second Person. If you read through the Psalm, it becomes clear that the Second Person is Someone who is also divine but is the Messianic King who will be sent from Yahweh from Heaven to the earth in order to destroy the enemies of God.
That means that this second “Lord” is Someone who has a divine nature—it implies that, and that David calls Him “my Lord”. For David to do that—remember, David is a Middle Eastern patriarchal king. That means that there’s nobody over him. There’s nobody higher than a king, a potentate in the ancient world in the Middle East. There’s no one to whom they do obeisance. There’s no one to whom they would bow. There’s no one to whom they would turn for greater authority. Yet David is saying that this Person to whom Yahweh is speaking is his Lord, is in authority over him, is a power over him. That indicates that it would not be any human being because there’s no human being that would be greater than King David.
So just the fact that Yahweh is speaking to someone else who is an authority over David indicates that this Second Person also would have to be divine by implication.
Then what he says is “Sit at My right hand.”
The right hand is a position of honor. It doesn’t inherently mean that the person who sits at the right hand of the king is of the same nature as a king. Some people have made that claim. But at the beginning of Solomon’s reign, anybody remember who sat at Solomon’s right hand? He had a throne set up for his mother, for Bathsheba. She was not equal to him, but he put her there as a sign of respect and to express her position of honor in the kingdom.
So it is not an expression that the person on the right hand is equal to the person on the throne, but that they are in a position of honor, position of respect, position of some authority.
This indicates a couple things. It indicates that this second “Lord” is standing, because He’s told to sit. And that standing position has implied that He’s coming from somewhere, and now He is told to sit. Then there is a time duration put on that command, to sit “till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
This kind of construction in the Hebrew, this kind of grammar, indicates that you’re going to stay in this seated position, which is a position of passivity, not a position of action. You’re going to sit there until some circumstances change. So, He says to sit there “until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
God is going to destroy these enemies or defeat these enemies, crush these enemies in such a way that they will become subordinate to this Second Person. They’ll become subordinate to Him, and then something will happen.
When we fit that into our understanding of what the Scriptures predict about the future, and we’ll look at this more next time. In Daniel 7 we have a similar situation where you have the Ancient of Days who is on His throne, who is God the Father. Then Daniel says he saw One like the Son of Man. That’s the Old Testament background for understanding that term that Jesus used so many times. One like the Son of Man comes to Him, and it is at that time that the Ancient of Days gives Him the authority to go to the earth and to destroy the kings of the earth.
That’s the picture here. The Father, Yahweh, is going to bring history to a concluding point. Until then, the Son is waiting until He requests of the Father, and the Father grants His request to give Him authority over the kings of the earth. But the only point that Jesus is making here is, Matthew 22:45, “If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how can He be his Son now?” Now, that the Pharisees can’t answer, but there’s something else that’s going on here.
Remember, I went back in the review, and I pointed out that as Jesus is talking to the Pharisees in the exchange about what the greatest commandment is, when Jesus talks about loving your neighbor as yourself, there’s an implied criticism or judgment there, because He knows what they’re plotting to do. They’re plotting to arrest Him. They’re plotting to kill Him. And Jesus is saying that this is the great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself.
So how is what you’re planning to do loving? How are you fulfilling this command, you who think that you are following the Law all the time? The Pharisees already know from listening to the parables that Jesus is talking about them and has announced their judgment. Here again, He announces judgment. Because if Jesus is who He claims to be, then they are the enemies of the Messiah and He has just quoted that God is going to make His enemies, that’s you guys [i.e., Pharisees] that I’m talking to, that God is going to make His enemies a footstool. God is going to bring judgment upon them.
Again and again and again as Jesus is answering, we miss it. It’s not as clear or overtly stated in the text, but what Jesus is continuously doing is needling them and reminding them that if He is who He claims to be, they are going to come under intense divine judgment.
So that leads to Matthew 22:46, “No one then was able to answer Him a word.” They’re dumbfounded. They cannot respond. “From that day on no one dared question Him anymore.”
Next time I’ll come back, I think we need to spend some time in Psalm 110 because it’s such an important psalm. We need to understand everything that goes on there. It’s more than just Psalm 110.
Remember, if you were Jewish and even up until about the 10th century, you didn’t have chapters even in the Scripture. The only divisions, of course, were in the Psalms, because each psalm is an integral unit. But you identified the Psalms by the first phrase or the first verse. That’s very typical today.
If there’s a pronouncement or official document that comes out of the Vatican, the title comes from the first three or four words in the first sentence of the document. This was the way the ancient world would title things, by just taking the first two or three words. You take a look at the Old Testament, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That’s Genesis 1:1. What is the title of Genesis in the Hebrew? Bereshit, “In the beginning.” So this was typical.
When Jesus is referring to Psalm 110:1 here, He knows that the Pharisees know the whole thing; they have it all memorized. They understand everything that’s in it. So He’s not just challenging them in the light of that first verse. There is an implied challenge in relationship to everything that is taught in that Messianic Psalm of Psalm 110:1.
He is making essentially the same claim that people like C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and numerous others have made, is that when you’re confronted with Jesus, you have basically three options; two of which are illogical and irrational.
You can either say that Jesus is a good teacher, a moral teacher, but that doesn’t really fit. Because if you’re good and you’re moral, you’re not going to tell people that you are the only way to Heaven, that you are the life and no one can come to the Father except by You. So that the claims that Jesus made counter the claims that if He’s not telling the truth, then He can be just a good moral teacher. If He is not telling the truth, He was an evil deceiver.
The second option would be that He would be crazy. He was just deluded. He was psychotic, and He just assumed these Messianic pretensions, but nothing that we know about Jesus fits that. So the place of refuge that many people go in order to give themselves some sort of protection from rejecting Jesus is totally stripped away. And that’s what Jesus has done with the Pharisees. He stripped away any pretension. It’s left them angry.
They have examined Him as per the examination of the Passover lamb. He has defeated them in every one of these examinations. He has not succumbed to any of their tricks. He has, in fact, turned those tricks back on them and exposed them for what they are. We know from human behavior that whenever people are exposed and whenever peoples’ oppositions are destroyed, that their reaction is anger, and that’s what their reaction is going to be.
What we’ll see after we look at Psalm 110 is that Jesus is going to ratchet it up even more and His condemnation is going to get on steroids in Matthew 23. He will pronounce a series of woes against the Pharisees that will lead them completely exposed, and it’s at that point that they decide that something must be done immediately to get rid of this Jesus of Nazareth.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to reflect upon this passage today, to be reminded that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be, and that the results of Him being such, being the Son of God, the eternal Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is that we are forced to either accept Him or reject Him.
There’s no reason to reject Him because everything that He said backed up His claims, everything He did backed up His claims, and it is obvious that He is exactly who He claimed to be, the One who fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies related to Messiah in terms of His first coming, and that He is the One who ultimately will return and complete the fulfillment of all the other prophecies.
The issue for each one of us is first and foremost to decide if we believe in Jesus, if we trust Him as One who came to earth to die for our sins. That’s the issue. It’s not a matter of what we’ve done or how we failed. It’s a matter of our belief in Jesus and trusting in His Person and His work on the Cross.
Father, we pray that if anyone listening has never trusted in Christ as Savior, that they would do so at this point, that they would understand that Jesus must be the Messiah, the One whom He claimed to be, and that they can have eternal life by trusting in Him alone.
For the rest of us, it’s a challenge in terms of being a learner, a student, a follower of Jesus, one who learns and studies, assimilates, and implements that which Jesus has taught that we may reflect His character in our lives and be witnesses for You, shining forth as lights in the midst of the wicked and perverse generation.
We pray that we’ll be challenged by these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”