MAY THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH AND THE MEDITATION OF MY HEART BE ALWAYS ACCEPTABLE IN THY SIGHT OH LORD MY STRENGH AND MY REDEEMER.

 

Messiahship

 

"He saith unto the, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then called him Lord, how is he his son?” St. Matthew xxii. 43.

 

Every seminary student learns that there are three types of sermons, topical sermons focused on current events, thematic sermons where the minister chooses a theme and uses the Bible to support it and exegetical sermons where a specific passage of scripture is explained. There can also be combinations of these three types of sermons. For example a minister might explain a passage of scripture and relate it to a current event or a life challenge most people face thereby combining the exegetical and topical types of sermons. On any given Sunday the Minister may reach some with the sermon and not reach others because the type of sermon he chose is not the type everyone finds most beneficial for them or the topic does not hold their interest. The Gospel reading for today is so important that it needs to be explained and understood by everyone.

 

In the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 22 verses 23 to 33 Jesus destroys one of the core beliefs of the Sadducees, that there is no such thing as resurrection and did this by using scripture to prove them wrong. Now the Pharisees rarely agreed with the Sadducees and likely took some pleasure out of the fact that Jesus had done what they could not do. However, Jesus was just as much a threat to them as he was to the Sadducees. They had already decided that Jesus was trouble and must be done away with.

 

We have seen time and again where Jesus performs a miracle but tells people not to tell anyone. He refused to let his followers proclaim him as the Messiah until he had taught them what Messiahship meant. Many times, in the Gospels, we hear the title ‘Son of David’ used. The commonly held expectation was that one day, a great prince of the line of David would come who would shatter Israel’s enemies and lead the people of Israel to the conquest of all nations. Note the sin of Ego in this expectation.

 

So in today’s Gospel reading Jesus asks the Pharisees whose son they understood the Messiah to be; they answered, as He knew they would: ’David’s son’. Jesus then quotes the first verse of the 110th Psalm of David: ‘The Lord says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand.”’ Now all the Pharisees accepted this as a messianic text. In it, the first Lord is God; the second lord is the Messiah. That is to say, David called the Messiah lord. But if the Messiah is David’s son, how could David call his own son lord? If in fact the Messiah was David’s son David would have written Psalm 110 to read ‘The Lord says to my son, Sit at my right hand’.

 

The clear result of the argument is that it is not adequate to call the Messiah the Son of David. He is not David’s son; he is David’s lord. Yet many times we have read that when Jesus healed someone the people called him the Son of David. Jesus was a descendant of David but not his son. What Jesus is saying here to the Pharisees is: ‘It is not enough to think of Him – Jesus, as a prince of David’s line and an earthly conqueror. They must go beyond that, because the Messiah is David’s lord.’ Jesus could only have meant one thing and that is the true description of Him is the Son of God. Son of David is not an adequate title; only Son of God will do. And, if that is so, Messiahship is not to be thought of in terms of Davidic conquest, but in terms of divine and sacrificial love. Here, then, Jesus has made his greatest claim. In Him, there came not the earthly conqueror who would repeat the military triumphs of David, but the Son of God who would demonstrate the love of God upon his cross.

 

Not many that day, would have understood all that Jesus meant by what he said; but when Jesus spoke these words, even the densest of them quite likely felt a shiver in the presence of the eternal mystery. They likely had the awe and uncomfortable feeling that they had heard the voice of God; and for a moment, in this man Jesus, they got a glimpse of God’s very face. 

 

Understanding this Gospel reading is very important for a number of reasons. This is the first time Jesus has put out there for all to hear that He is the Messiah. He knows that the Pharisees have already decided to put him to death so now is the time to use scripture, the Psalms of David that they hold up as prophesy of a messiah, as proof that the Messiah is not David’s son, he is David’s Lord. Jesus also attempts to alter their conception of a nationalistic, political, military Messiah who will bring them power and glory. Instead the Messiah will teach them that to be truly religious is to love God and to love those whom God made in his own image.

 

 When asked “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus answered with the very essence of Christianity; “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.”  And “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Jesus Christ, the messiah, taught us to love God and other people, not with a vague sentimentality, but with that total commitment that comes from devotion to God and practical service to others.

 

May the love of God be always with you.          Amen

 

And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost be ascribed all might, majesty, power and dominion as is most justly due this day; world without end.          AMEN