Luke 20:41-44 (CEV)
41 Jesus asked, “Why do people say that the Messiah will be the son of King David? 42 In the book of Psalms, David himself says,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right side
43 until I make your enemies
into a footstool for you.’
44 David spoke of the Messiah as his Lord, so how can the Messiah be his son?”
For centuries the Jewish people had been waiting for this person called the Messiah.
There were possibly hundreds of references to the Messiah in the Old Testament, and this verse that Jesus quotes from Psalm 110:1 is just one of them.
‘Messiah’ isn’t really a term that we use anymore, so maybe it’s new to you. But Jesus’ first listeners had put all of these references together, and had developed an idea of what the Messiah would look like, what he would do, how he would act, how they would know it was him, etc., etc., etc.
The Gospel writers – Luke included – took pains to reference many of these ‘messianic’ texts throughout their accounts of Jesus’ life, and the question on the table for many at this point in Jesus’ ministry was whether or not Jesus was actually the Messiah.
If he was, it was a big claim.
There were expectations to live up to.
A kingdom to redeem.
A throne to sit upon.
Or so the story went.
But Jesus seems to think that the idea of a Messiah that the people had and the idea of a Messiah that God had were two different things.
The kingdom the people wanted him to redeem was the physical kingdom of Israel, out from under the ruling of the Romans.
The throne the people wanted him to sit on was the physical throne of earthly power.
They assumed that there would be an army to rally, a fight to be had and borders to re-establish when the process was complete. They assumed that just like with King David of old there would be power and prestige and honour returned to the idea of being Jewish – that countries around them would fear them and look up to them and that they could experience political freedom for the first time in hundreds of years.
And then Jesus comes along and asks this question.
David spoke of the Messiah as his Lord, so how can the Messiah be his son?
We are just days from Jesus’ death and resurrection – though it will take us till Easter to get there – and Jesus seems to want to clarify terms here.
He is the Messiah – but the Messiah might not be quite what the people have expected.
He is the Messiah – but the Messiah might not be interested in a kingdom of borders or a throne of power.
He is the Messiah – but this Messiah is not limited by earthly ideas or priorities or power structures, because this Messiah is actually the Son of God, with a far greater mission than simply reasserting Jewish (or any other nationality’s) pre-eminence.
Instead, Jesus’ mission – and the mission He calls us to join, as well – is about extending the dynamic, transformative love of God that Jesus has known since eternity past out to a world that is breaking and quaking from fear.
Among other things, Jesus is laying down his claim to be God’s Son.
Among other things, Jesus is blowing the good news out wider and farther and greater than anyone at the time had ever considered possible.
And Jesus asks his first listeners – and by extension, us – which kind of a Messiah we are looking for. Because the Messiah we are looking for will shape the questions we ask, the direction we travel and the choices we make.
- What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Messiah’?
- What does it mean for you that Jesus claims to be God’s Son?
- “Jesus’ mission … is about extending the dynamic, transformative love of God that Jesus has known since eternity past out to a world that is breaking and quaking from fear.” Take some time to reflect on this. What would it change if it were true?
- As you begin this new year, what questions do you have about Jesus, or about your next steps in faith this year?
- What new faith directions do you want to step out in this year?
- What new choices do you feel God’s love calling you into?