And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? . . . David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” (Mark 12:35, 37a)
Our last passage in the Gospel of Mark ended with “And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Mark 12:34b) Jesus had literally silenced the opposition! The Pharisees, the Sadduccess, the scribes – they all failed to trip Jesus up. Rather, he made them look ignorant. And now that there would be no further questions, Jesus turns the tables on them.
Jesus, of course, is not vindictive. The Bible makes that much clear. Rather, Jesus now takes his turn to ask the questions, not to “get back” at those who tried to trick him, but to further peel back the curtain to expose who he was. At this point, he had already shown himself to have great power, great authority, and great wisdom. But here, he seeks to tie these observations to the accepted authority of the scriptures, in order to demonstrate who he really is.
Psalm 110, the most often quoted Old Testament scripture in the New Testament, was regarded as a Davidic prophecy about the Messiah. That is, the person referred to as “Lord” who sits at David’s right hand is referring to the coming anointed one, the Messiah. God, “The LORD” tells him to sit there, indicating his divine mission. But David calls this person “My Lord.” That’s quite intriguing because from a human perspective, King David had no lord! (“Lord” can be a common title of respect for those in a higher authority) So then, how can the Messiah be the “Son of David” (that is, a descendent and rightful heir to his throne) and yet also be David’s Lord? Who can fulfill both of these roles?
Mark tells us that the crowd heard him gladly. This may not be so for the religious scholars who were confounded! Jesus, the Author of scripture himself, offered them a challenge they could not answer. He used the authority, the Bible, that they accepted as coming from God. And he made them think more deeply about their Messianic expectations.
This beautiful passage is an example of how Jesus reveals himself not just to his disciples, but to the world. Embedded in the call to follow Christ is a call to understand who he is. Christology – the study of the nature of Christ – sometimes doesn’t occupy the place in our studies that it ought, but it is of extreme importance. Much ink has been spilled and many battles fought throughout the history of the church to preserve for us a biblical understanding of the nature of Christ – that is both God and man, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. He is indeed the rightful heir of the throne of David and the heir of the entire world. He is our Savior and Lord. His acts of living a righteous life, dying an atoning death, and demonstrating a powerful resurrection are not to be separated from his nature as the eternal Son of God! This Sunday, let us dive deeper into what it means that Jesus is both God and man, and let us worship and exalt him together!