THE SON OF DAVID MUST ALSO BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS THE AUTHORITATIVE SON OF GOD
The greatest question each individual must answer is “Who is Jesus Christ and how will you respond to His authority in your life?” The secularists and the humanists and the self-righteous religious leaders have no problem admitting the greatness of Jesus as a teacher, as a moral example, etc. But their characterizations of the identity of Jesus are woefully inadequate. Jesus must be acknowledged as the Son of God who has ultimate authority over your life.
David Turner: In this passage Jesus turns the tables and questions the Pharisees, not to trap them or even to win a debate but to win their hearts (cf. 23:37). This is not a mere counterattack (contra Schnackenburg 2002:224). The paramount considerations at this decisive point in Israel’s history are Jesus’s identity and the source of his authority (21:23). His relationship to King David is worthy of their consideration. The Jewish leaders and Jesus agree that the Messiah is David’s son (22:42), but the real question is what it means to be David’s son in light of Ps. 110:1 (Matt. 22:43–45). . .
The questions of the religious leaders attempt to trap Jesus and to discredit his teaching. All hope of rapprochement between Jesus and the religious leaders is dashed. His final question to them is unanswerable; the only way that David can call his messianic son “Lord” is if his son is divine. The Pharisees who wished to trap Jesus are now trapped by Jesus. But all dialogue has ceased, with ominous implications. This final confrontation leaves Jesus and the Jewish leaders at a hopeless impasse and leads inevitably to the woes of Matt. 23.
Stu Weber: Jesus is indeed the Messiah-King, having absolute authority and deserving worship and submission from all his subjects.
Donald Hagner: This pericope comes as the climax to the preceding series of testings of Jesus by his opponents, each one of which Jesus has brilliantly passed, demonstrating further his authority as a teacher. Now, however, he takes the initiative against his opponents, here again the Pharisees, by putting a difficult question before them. This question is not one designed for its cleverness but one that has to do with Jesus’ own identity and calling. The Pharisees are unable to draw the required conclusion, just as they have been earlier unable to accept Jesus, his message, or his personal claims. Whereas he has passed the tests they put to him, they fail in the test he puts to them.
Grant Osborne: Jesus is the Messiah and more; he is the royal Messiah, the Son of David, but he is also the Son of God, David’s Lord. This is high Christology and climaxes the section with the nature of this Jesus who has so decimated his opponents on points of law. It constitutes the second time in which he overcomes his “messianic secret” and reveals himself to the public as “Lord” of all.
Stanley Saunders: While they are still “gathered together” (22:41)—they have not yet abandoned their attempt to oust him from the temple—Jesus turns the tables and asks them a challenging question. What about the Messiah? Whose son is he? He probes their understanding of the Messiah in order to draw them into the open. The Pharisees have heard supplicants and the crowds repeatedly hail Jesus as “Lord, Son of David” (15:22; 20:30–31; cf. 9:27; 12:23; 21:9, 15), but have rejected this designation in favor of the claim that his power is from Beelzebul (9:34; 12:24). Jesus and the Pharisees both know that the Scriptures affirm that the messiah is the Son of David. If the Pharisees confirm this, it will lead by implication to the conclusion that Jesus the Son of David is also God’s messiah. If they deny it, they risk the wrath of the crowds, whom they fear (21:46). Jesus is thus inviting his opponents either to accept publicly his authority as the Son of David and messiah, or once again to claim that his power is from Beelzebul. Either way they face dishonor. The former would require them to give account for their continuing opposition to Jesus, while the latter would be an admission that Beelzebul’s son has persistently defeated them in public debates.
I. (:41-42) INADEQUATE RESPONSE TO THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION REGARDING THE IDENTITY OF THE MESSIAH
A. (:41a) Target Audience
“Now while the Pharisees were gathered together,”
B. (:41b-42a) Fundamental Question
“Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying,
‘What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?’”
Charles Swindoll: The Pharisees had asked Jesus about politics; the Sadducees had asked about the afterlife; the lawyer had asked about the Law. Now Jesus took a dive into the waters of deep theology. He asked the Pharisees what they believed about the identity of the Messiah: “Whose son is He?” (22:42).
Leon Morris: “What do you think about the Messiah?” is a question that might cover a very wide field, but Jesus narrows it immediately with “Whose son is he?” He is asking a question about ancestry; a query about the Messiah’s sonship might be understood in the sense that Jesus is looking for information about his father. But among the Jews son was used more widely than in many modern communities, and this question was meant in the sense, “Who is the great man from whom the Messiah is descended?”
C. (:42b) Inadequate Response
“They said to Him, ‘The son of David.’”
William Barclay: The most common title of the Messiah was Son of David. Behind it lay the expectation that there would one day come a great prince of the line of David who would shatter Israel’s enemies and lead the people to the conquest of all nations. The Messiah was most commonly thought of in nationalistic, political, military terms of power and glory. This is another attempt by Jesus to alter that conception. . .
The clear result of the argument is that it is not adequate to call the Messiah Son of David. He is not David’s son; he is David’s lord. When Jesus healed the blind men, they called him Son of David (Matthew 20:30). When he entered Jerusalem, the crowds hailed him as Son of David (Matthew 21:9). Jesus is here saying: ‘It is not enough to call the Messiah Son of David. It is not enough to think of him as a prince of David’s line and an earthly conqueror. You must go beyond that, for the Messiah is David’s lord.’
What did Jesus mean? He can have meant only one thing – that the true description of him is 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 makes 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.
Grant Osborne: It was a common rabbinic ploy to harmonize two seemingly contradictory texts; here Jesus harmonizes two seemingly contradictory messianic ideas: Given that the Messiah is David’s “son” (v. 42), how then can the great king David address him as “Lord”? In other words, how can his son at the same time be his Lord?
II. (:43-45) INSPIRED ARGUMENTATION ELEVATING THE IDENTITY OF THE MESSIAH TO THE AUTHORITATIVE SON OF GOD
A. (:43-44) Testimony of King David
“He said to them, ‘Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying,
The Lord said to my LORD,
‘Sit at My right hand, Until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet?’”
Stu Weber: Jesus then asked a follow-up question. He asked them to interpret Psalm 110:1 in light of the identity of the Christ as David’s son. This verse describes Christ’s posture in heaven until he comes to reign on the earth (Heb. 10:12-13). In the psalm, David says, “Yahweh said to my Lord” (literal translation of the Hebrew text). In the English translations of this verse, the first usage of the word “Lord” is usually printed in capital letters, to show that it translates the Hebrew name of God, Yahweh. The second usage has only the first letter capitalized, showing that it translates the Hebrew title Adonai, meaning “Master, Lord.”
Leon Morris: He accepts the Davidic authorship of the psalm, which, of course, would not have been doubted anywhere in first-century Judaism (the psalm is headed “A Psalm of David”). And he accepts that David wrote the psalm under the leadership of the Spirit of God; the psalm is inspired Scripture. Further he regards the psalm as messianic; it teaches something about the Messiah who would come in due course and is not to be confined to statements about David. All this would have been common ground between Jesus and the Pharisees, and so far there would have been no problem. But Jesus draws attention to the fact that David calls the Messiah “Lord” (thus conceding his own inferiority to the Messiah).
B. (:45) Test Question for All Who Deny the Deity of Jesus
“If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?”
R. T. France: In 21:37 Jesus has implicitly laid claim to the status of Son of God. It is that implication which he now invites his hearers to draw out, for surely one who is the lord of David, the most distinguished of all historical Israelites, must be himself more than just another human king. If David calls him “lord” he is clearly the son of someone far superior to David.
David Turner: The initial question in Matt. 22:43 seems to assume the humanity of the Messiah as David’s descendant. If the Messiah is the human descendant of David, how does David call him Lord in Ps. 110:1? The follow-up question in Matt. 22:45 puts it the opposite way: if the Messiah is David’s Lord, how can he be David’s descendant? In Matthew’s narrative Jesus’s humble Davidic roots (1:1, 16–17, 20; cf. Luke 1:27, 32, 69; 2:4, 11) are not the whole story. Jesus is also the miraculously born, divinely attested Son of God (Matt. 1:23; 3:17; 16:16; 17:5; 21:37; 22:2; 26:63–64). That Jesus is greater than David is already clear (12:1–4; cf. 12:6, 8, 41), but now Matthew explains why: the Messiah is the son of David and the Son of God. But the Pharisees will not accept a Messiah who, as David’s Lord, is greater than David.
Donald Hagner: The point of the question addressed to the Pharisees is apparently to elevate the concept of Messiah from that of a special human being to one who uniquely manifests the presence of God—and thus one whom David has also to address as his lord. This pericope serves thus in one sense as a kind of justification for the extravagant claims made by Jesus, or concerning him, earlier in the Gospel (e.g., 10:32–33, 40; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16). As in Peter’s confession, so here, the Christ, the Son of David, is to be recognized as uniquely “the Son of the living God” (cf. Gibbs, 460–64). He is the living Lord of the church (Burger, 88–89) who sits at God’s right hand. The Pharisees accordingly reject Jesus at their very great peril. They have rejected not merely a human messianic claimant but the unique emissary of God, whom even David had called “my lord.” κύριος, “lord,” in reference to Jesus here, as Fitzmyer points out, suggested to the evangelist and his community that Jesus “was somehow on a par with Yahweh of the Old Testament”. . .
So too today repeated attempts are being made to explain Jesus in strictly human categories. Yet if we limit our understanding of Jesus to analogies that from the beginning rule out the supernatural and the divine, we will never arrive at an adequate view of Jesus. This is the very point the Gospel desires to press home to its readers. Jesus’ question to the Pharisees—How then does David call him “my lord”?—must also be asked of those modern scholars who allow Jesus to be no more than a human teacher. The burning question “Who do you say I am?” (16:15) has only one adequate answer.
(:46) EPILOGUE – END OF DISCUSSION
“And no one was able to answer Him a word,
nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.”
David Turner: The silence of the religious leaders does not mean that they have come to agree with Jesus but that they have abandoned hope of publicly refuting him.
R. T. France: At this point there is no mention (as there is in Mark) of the reaction of the crowd to the brief and allusive argument just recorded, but Jesus will immediately go on to address the crowds in a way which assumes their sympathy with him rather than with the scribes and Pharisees, so that we must assume their continuing approval of his teaching.
Leon Morris: That finished the questioning session. The Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees had all tried to put questions to Jesus that would embarrass him and put him into disfavor with the people or the governing bodies or both, and while it could not be said that he had failed to answer, it could be said that he had produced answers that left him unscathed and caused the people to marvel at him. He was more admired when they finished than when they started on this exercise. So it is no surprise that, finding they could not answer the question he had put to them, none of them dared any more to question him. This was a game in which they thought they held all the advantages (how could a layman from rural Galilee compete with the professionals who had been through the schools in Jerusalem?). But in the end they had been defeated.
Stanley Saunders: The Pharisees are prepared to say that the messiah is David’s son, but not to grant Jesus the Son of David authority as “Lord.” So “none of them is able to give him an answer.” They are unable to answer because they have no will to admit Jesus’ authority over them. After this day no one will dare to ask him any more questions (22:46). Jesus’ successful defenses of his authority in the temple in Jerusalem mean that those who challenge his God-given power must now turn to violence.