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What Do You Think About the Christ?

Back to all sermons MATTHEW: Jesus King of Heaven and Earth

Date: November 11, 2018

Speaker: Erik Raymond

Series: MATTHEW: Jesus King of Heaven and Earth

Category: Biblical Exposition

Scripture: Matthew 22:41–22:46

 Jesus maintains substantial popularity amidst widespread confusion about who he is.

What’s interesting is there are many who claim a formal association with and support of Jesus while rejecting much of what Jesus said and did. 

The question remains, who is he? 

One voice among many? Why listen to Jesus’s voice? Why does he have such authority? What makes him unique? What gives him the right to say what he says?  

It’s interesting that many of the religious and the irreligious both want to ignore Jesus. They want to question his authority and ignore him. The trouble is, you can’t ignore a king forever.

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Matthew 21:23

Jesus has a unique authority, demanding our full attention because only he meets the biblical requirements of Messiah.

What are these requirements?

Two biblical requirements of the promised King

  1. The Messiah is human— he is Davidic
  2. The Messiah is God—he is Divine

The Bible teaches that the Messiah is both human and divine.

Jesus is both human and divine. 

Jesus demands our attention. 

We mustn’t ignore him.

Two biblical requirements of the anticipated King

(1) The Messiah is human— he is Davidic

Did you notice the something different about this passage this morning compared to the previous weeks’? Over the last several weeks we have been looking in detail at the questions posed to Jesus by the various religious leaders. 

But in this passage, we have Jesus asking them the questions. This is a marked shift. Jesus has been patiently enduring their patronizing, arrogant questions. But now, he turns to ask them a very important question.

Look with me at verse 41 and 42, “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” 

Jesus asks them what they think about the Christ. The Christ is the anointed one. This is the Christ. Jesus is referring to the long anticipated, promised king. In one sense every king was anointed, they are “Christs” in a sense. But, with the article in front we are talking here about the Christ. This is the long-promised Christ. 

There is something else happening here. There are two people that are separate in the minds of the religious leaders and this puts them at odds with Jesus. Because in Jesus’s mind, these two people are the same. 

These two people are the Messiah and Jesus. In their minds, we are talking about two different people. But, in Jesus mind, we are talking about the same person.

These three questions, on this topic of the Messiah, is actually Jesus’s answer to a question they asked him in the last chapter—the same day but there has been a lot of water under the dam since then.

Look back at chapter 21, verse 23, And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

This question of authority comes down to a question of identity. Who are you? And, What right do you have to act like this?

In these verses, Jesus answers this question. He shows that he has a divine authority because he has the unique ability to meet the requirements of the promised Messiah. And, he is going to show them that not only do they not know who Jesus is, they actually don’t know their Bibles, as well as they, thought they did. 

But, this first question is nothing too difficult. And the Pharisees answer quickly. It’s right on the tip of their tongue. 

Jesus asks about the Messiah and whose son he is. They answer confidently and quickly. He is the son of David. 

What does this mean though that the Christ or the Messiah would be the son of David? 

Most clearly it means that the promised king will be a descendant of David. He will come from his line. The Messiah will be a human offspring in the family of David. This was commonly held beliefs.

Where did they get this from? 

In 2 Samuel 7 we read of the Lord’s promise to David. In verse 12 we read, When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”

And then down in verse 29, David clinging to this promise, “Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

The Lord promised to David that one of his descendants will rule as king forever. But as we know from reading 1 and 2 Kings, many of these sons of David were less than ideal and certainly did not reign forever. The promise then holds out hope for a future son of David who would come and take the mantle and reign as king.

This was their constant hope.

““Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23:5–6)

“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:22–24)

““In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old,” (Amos 9:11)

“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 3:5)

“I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah” (Psalm 89:34–37)

They were looking for the offering of David. 

Therefore, it was very important to know what one’s line was Ancient Israel. And, at the time, everyone in Israel would know where they belonged and where others did as well they could just run down the temple and verify.

Here’s the kicker, who was Jesus a descendant of? David.

Everyone there could have discredited him in a minute if he wasn’t. But he was. Legally through his earthly father, Joseph. But also, by blood through Mary his mother.

The faithful at the time of Christ’s birth clung to the promises with hope. “and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,” (Luke 1:69–70,)

And this is one of the main points that Matthew is making with his gospel. He is showing how Jesus is the son of David. Look back to the very first verse of the book,

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1)

There he was, right before them, the son of David according to the flesh. The Promised one was there. But they were rejecting him because he was not fitting into their agenda. He was not what and who they wanted him to be. But, he was the Son of David.

What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? 

They answered him, “The son of David.” 

They were right. The Christ is the son of David. They answered the question correctly but not fully.

There’s more. The Messiah, the Christ, is the Son of David, but he is also the Son of God. He is human, the Son of David. But, he is also divine, the Son of God.

(2) The Messiah is God—he is Divine

The follow-up question presents a bit of an issue for them. 

Look at verse 43-45, “He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet” ’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”” (Matthew 22:43–45)

What is he asking? How can David’s son be David’s Lord? This doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would David call his descendant his Lord?

How is this a problem? It doesn’t seem to make sense. It seems like a riddle. These two don’t go together.

How could it be potentially resolved?

One option is, that David didn’t write this. But this can’t be true because Jesus says that it was written by David.

Another option could be to say that David was speaking of himself. But, this would be the language of extreme personal exaltation. 

Another option, is to ask if it could be referring to someone else? And, to answer this, let’s ask if Scripture might indicate that this is speaking of someone else. It is a good rule of biblical interpretation to allow the more clear passages of Scripture to shed light on those that appear less clear. And when we look to see if this passage is quoted in other places we find that it is either directly quoted, referenced, or alluded to more than any other passage in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is referenced 27 times! This is a lot of times. This is quite important. One such passage is Acts 2:34. Punctuating his sermon, Peter writes,

“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”” (Acts 2:34–36)

This is similar language to what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 1, “concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 1:3–4)

The testimony of the Scripture is that this passage in Psalm 110 is referring to David’s Son and God’s Son. It is none other than Jesus Christ.

And Jesus clears this up for us in no uncertain terms. Look again at what he says. “He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, 

Jesus affirms that David wrote the Psalm. He affirms that it was through the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. And, he teaches that it was a Messianic Psalm. That is, this is referring to him.

What then do we have with this? 

We have David listening in on a very privileged conversation. The Lord, you will notice is spelled two different ways here. The first is in all capital letters while the second is with regular sentence case. This is making a distinction in the original between two words for God. The first is of YHWH and the second is of Adonai. What is happening then is David is hearing the intertrinitarian dialog between the Father, YHWH, and the Son, Adonai. 

And how is this said? It is said by the Holy Spirit. So we have the whole Trinity involved in this crucial conversation.

And what is being said? It is that God the Father will exalt God the Son. YHWH will exalt Adonai. 

How do we know? The place of exaltation, prominence, and power is the right hand. It is the place of authority and power. And, it is the Father who is going to exalt him to this place. 

God would never exalt a mere man to this place. This would be to share his glory. And, God, jealous for his glory, would never do this (Is. 42:8). But he would exalt his son! (Mt. 3:17).

And so it is, at the resurrection, God the Father installs Jesus at the right hand of God as the authority to rule and reign forever! He is there even right now.

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3)

“And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?” (Hebrews 1:13)

“who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (1 Peter 3:22)

Through the resurrection of the dead, Christ is installed at the right hand of God. 

He has defeated sin, Satan, and death. He is the exalted king. 

And we hear his words in the triumphant book of Revelation, ““I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”” (Revelation 22:16)

When we are thinking about the divinity of Christ, there are explicit Biblical references that declare it. And then there is a whole structure of who Jesus is portrayed to be that supports it. 

We certainly see passages like the following:

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
  • “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” (Colossians 2:9)
  • “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16–17)
  • “Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”” (John 20:28) 
  • “But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)
  • “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:19–20)

But we must see it also in what he did and what he claimed. He raised the dead, showed power of nature, created limbs, granted sight, forgave sins, created food, received worship, and he himself raised from the dead. Just to name a few. 

He wore the title Messiah, proclaimed his own deity, and did not shrink from the assertion that he was God. He received worship rightly, unlike Peter who rebuked others who bowed before him.

He is and knew he was God.

The Messiah is human, that is he is Davidic. And he is God, that is he is divine.

Implications

 

1. Beware of the danger of self-authority. 

The Pharisees’ case is both common and troubling. They simultaneously knew the Bible and they did not know it. What I mean is, this knew a lot of facts about the Scriptures but did not have a proper framework for interpretation and application. Their reference point started with themselves and worked their way up to God rather than starting with God and working their way back down to themselves. This is how human reasoning, emotional arguments, and personal preferences serve to supplant biblical doctrine. It starts with the source of authority.

This might sound patently obvious. The Bible is the extreme authority. But friends, listen, the Pharisees would have said this and at the same time meant something different by it. They weren’t open to correction from the Bible because they had already locked down their own interpretation and applications. They were in a sense, untouchable. This is a dangerous place to be. You’ll notice, they are talking with God here and getting angry enough to want to kill him. This should tell you it’s not a place you want to be in.

The Pharisees were famous for knowing things but not applying it. We must be very careful not only for this result but also the self-authority that serves as its foundation.

This is one of the reasons why we want to saturate our lives with the Bible. We want to have more and more exposure to it so it can not only inform our minds with truth but also transform our lives. We want to change to be more like Jesus.

We see this flesh out in 

  • Our personal Bible reading
    • Do you read the Bible on your own?
    • Do you pray for understanding?
    • Do you find yourself repenting of sin and changing your life?
  • Sunday gathering
    • Likewise, do you come to church desiring to be changed by the Word?
    • Do you pray for it to affect you?
    • Do you pray for the preacher? For one another?

We also see the wisdom of God in putting us in a church family. But we must note the danger of self-authority in churches who replace God’s authority of the Scriptures.

  • The church is to guard the doctrine of the Word
    • Why are so many beautiful church buildings across New England empty this morning?
    • Why are some of these buildings on Mt Auburn street turned into condominiums?

We also need to take this truth into the public square as we discuss the gospel with others. We must realize that the fundamental issue we have when speaking to others about the gospel is about authority.

  • The question Jesus was asked, “by what authority do you say and do these things” is the questions others ask us
  • They reveal their authority with their objections
    • I don’t believe in God, I believe in Science (scientific)
    • I can’t believe the Bible, it has too many contradictions (skepticism) 
    • I can’t believe a God like the one in the Bible exists (emotionalism)
    • I believe there are many different paths to God (pluralism)

As believers, we must grapple with the issue of authority and show skeptics that their objections are actually assertions of personal authority. And, if we are honest, it is a claim that we don’t have the basis to make.

2. Beware of the danger of reading the Bible but missing Jesus.  

These guys were familiar with the Bible but strangers to Jesus. How does this happen?

We have to see that the entire Bible is about Jesus.

  • zoom out and see it connect (Google Earth)
  • Luke 24
  • Jesus own view

When you read the Bible and hear it preached you want to see how it connects to Christ.

  • Have you noticed the state highway roads in MA? Most often there are two directions you can go and one is usually to Boston. So too with our Bible reading…make the connection to Christ.
  • There is glory in seeing this.
    • The Holy Spirit comes to glorify Christ.
    • This is what he does.

3. Beware of the danger of being allergic to theology. 

Sometimes Christians treat words like theology and doctrine like I treat cats. They keep away from them like they’re allergic to them.

But friends, theology is simply the study of God and doctrine is the teaching of God’s Word. We cannot stay away from doctrine and theology unless we are planning on staying away from God.

We see an issue in this passage with the apparent contradiction or at least some unresolved difficulty. There’s a tension there. How can the Messiah be both David’s son and his Lord? This is hard.

But we don’t run away from this. We run into it. There’s glory in this tension. Jesus wants to take people into it. The Apostles take people into it. It’s a glorious place.

Thankfully, in life, we can survive if we have certain allergies. We can still get by and even thrive while avoiding certain foods. Some may be allergic to dairy but still have plenty of other options to get their nutrition. But friends, we cannot thrive if we avoid doctrine or theology. We will become unhealthy and sick.

What are you doing to grow theologically?

One thing you could do is study the church statement of faith. Read it, look up the cross-references. Jot down questions you might have and ask a pastor or another church member.

Another thing you could do is study the children’s catechisms. Did you know it is jam-packed with beautiful theology? Do the same thing, read it, look up verses, and study it. It drives you to the Bible.

Then you could read some theological books. There are entire books written that are aimed at helping Christians to grow spiritually in their understanding of doctrine. I or another elder would love to talk with you about this more and recommend some resources for you.

Remember, Jesus highlighted the great commandment. It includes loving God with all of your what? Heart, soul, MIND, and strength. We have an opportunity and obligation to grow in our understanding of who God is. This involves theology. It necessitates doctrine. 

Those are some dangers. The danger of self-authority, the danger of missing Jesus, and the danger of being allergic to doctrine. 

Finally, let me end with a question that Jesus asked in verse 41.

What do you think about the Messiah?

This is the most important question. 

CS Lewis’ famous observation. 

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

What do you think about the Messiah?