Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mark 12:35–37

Mark 12:35–37 (ESV): Whose Son is the Christ?

Passage

In the last passage Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment and his answer shut the conversation down to the point that nobody dared ask him anymore questions. So in this passage he asks them a question.

His question is how the scribes (the teachers of the law) can claim that the Christ is the son of David, when David calls the Christ his Lord? Jesus is referring to Psalm 110:1 (ESV):

The LORD says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
So, Jesus asks, if David himself calls the Christ “Lord,” then how can the Christ be David’s son?

The passage doesn’t relate the religious leaders’ reaction to this question, but we are told that the “throng heard him gladly” (verse 37 (ESV)).

Thoughts

The question Jesus asks here is a difficult one—or at least, it would have been for the crowd Jesus was speaking to in this passage. The Old Testament Scriptures clearly say that the Christ will be a descendent of David—calling a descendent his “son” is a figure of speech—but then we also have this passage from Psalm 110 where David calls the Christ “Lord,” which wouldn’t make sense if the Messiah is David’s descendent. It’s not Jesus’ intent to try to prove that the Christ is not David’s son, he is just trying to show the scribes that the situation is more complicated than they realize.

In fact, the Old Testament passages talking about the Christ don’t really make sense until we look back at Jesus’ life in retrospect; when we see how he was born, how he’s related to David, but also keep in mind that Jesus is truly God incarnate, it starts to make sense that yes, he is both David’s “Son” and his “Lord.” I don’t think any of the religious leaders contemplated God Himself being born as the Christ; if it had been suggested they probably would have considered it a blasphemous idea. How can God, the creator of all the universe, come and be born as a person? They definitely thought the Christ would be blessed by God, but they never thought he would be God—but, as Jesus points out, if you believe that the Christ will be just a man, then Psalm 110:1 no longer makes sense.
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