A Question of Identity: Son of David or Lord of All? - Mark 12:35-37

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As Jesus spent time in the Temple court just days before His death, He was repeatedly confronted by antagonistic religious leaders. Their questions were attempts to trap Him in His words, but one after another He turned the questions back on them. After their questions had run out Jesus took an opportunity to ask a question of His own. And while He could have used this chance to shame or embarrass them, instead He asks a question that points them to toward the truth. Their questions came from wicked hearts with wicked intentions, but His’ offered them the chance to see clearly.

As we hear Jesus answer their questions we have the benefit of hearing and learning from His answers. Now as He asks a question we are wise to understand not only the question, but what He hoped to accomplish in asking the question. Jesus offers the religious leaders an opportunity to see Him rightly and to trust Him. Now we have the same opportunity – to see Jesus as Lord, to respond to Him in faith and live in light His Lordship.

A Question about the Messiah – Is it right to call the Christ the Son of David? (12:35)

  • The identity of the Messiah – Son of David - The question Jesus asks is related to the common teaching of the Jews. The Jews taught that the Messiah would be a descendent of David. This is true and based on the Scriptures, but Jesus will push them to consider that Jesus is much more than simply a son of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 11:1-2; Jeremiah 33:15-17; Ezekiel 34:22-24). 
  • The work of the Messiah – A national deliverer – Just as their view of the Messiah’s identity is incomplete, so is their view of His mission. Their narrow understanding of Jesus as a deliverer of Israel kept them from recognizing all He was sent by God to accomplish.

 A Question about the Scriptures – Does Psalm 110 create a contradiction? (12:36) 

  • A word about inspiration – In referring to Psalm 110 Jesus says two things: that it was written by David and also that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is proof to us that Jesus saw the Old Testament Scriptures as more than the words of men, the Scriptures are the words and thoughts of God (2 Peter 1:20-21).
  • Understanding the Psalm
  • Author and Theme – This Psalm of David is prophetic. David is writing about the coming king who God promised would come through his line. It’s a psalm that reveals the authority and victory of this king and it is a psalm that the nation of Israel knew well.
  • LORD and Lord – In verse 1 David records a declaration from God (LORD, Yahweh) to the future king (Lord, Adonai). In this declaration God speaks of the king’s future exaltation and rule. These are promises that the people of God celebrated – their coming king would be great and mighty.

Clarifying the Question – How can the Christ be both David’s Son and Lord? (12:37)

  • A cultural consideration – Since we aren’t first century Jews we may not immediately recognize the point Jesus is making. However, for those gathered in the Temple court the question creates an apparent contradiction. In this culture a father would never refer to his son with a title of superiority. Why would David refer to his descendent as Lord?
  • The implication Jesus is making – The Christ is greater than you know At first glance it may seem Jesus is suggesting that the Messiah couldn’t be both David’s son and David’s Lord and this is certainly consistent with the cultural assumptions. But Jesus is prompting them to consider that the Messiah is greater than they expected. They were waiting for a national hero, but God sent a Savior for the world (Acts 2:32-36; Hebrews 1; Philippians 2:9-11).

A Compassionate and Evangelistic Question

  • This crowd was made up of people who wanted to get rid of Jesus, and yet when He has the opportunity, He points them toward the truth. He wants them to know that the Messiah is greater than they understand and will accomplish more than they anticipate.

Jesus is Lord of All – Questions to Consider

  • Do you believe that Jesus is Lord? The religious leaders of Jesus’s day saw Jesus but they didn’t truly recognize Him. Jesus came, He is Lord, and all who trust in Him will be saved (Romans 10:9-13).
  • Do you live as if Jesus is Lord? Believing that Jesus is Lord must be joined with a life that acknowledges His Lordship. In what ways are you living as if you are the lord of your own life? Recognizing that Jesus is Lord both now and forever should provide great hope and confidence (Col 3:1-4). 
  • Do you proclaim Jesus as Lord? If we truly believe that Jesus is Lord, we should be faithful to proclaim His Lordship and call others to see Him rightly and believe. It’s only through Him that they will be saved.