(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click here)
Pastor Scott L Harris
Faith Bible Church, NY
December 25, 1994
“Jesus, Whose Son Is He”
It is good to see each of you here this morning. As I have been talking to various pastors the past month or so many of them have been concerned that attendance would be down this morning. One church which has two services every Sunday morning went to one service in anticipation of what would happen this morning. Oddly, there are two days in the year when church attendance peaks – one is Easter Sunday and the other is the Sunday before Christmas, but when Christmas actually falls on a Sunday, attendance drops. Some of that is for good reason and some of it is not. Some maximize the day by using it to witness to unsaved relatives and friends about the reason for Christmas, others find it a convenient excuse to skip church. I am glad that you are here because of your desire to celebrate Jesus’ birth by joining together with other believers to worship Him.
Keep in prayer for the opportunities that today will bring to tell others about Christ, and pray for the many families in our congregation that are out of town and out of state visiting relatives.
This morning’s text is not one of the usual passages of Scripture used for a Christmas message as are the first two chapters of either Matthew or Luke. Yet our text this morning centers precisely on Jesus birth and becomes the dividing point between those who will be saved and go to heaven and those who will be condemned to hell. Turn with me to Matthew 22:41.
Jesus is in the Temple. It is only two days before He would be crucified, and His authority is being relentlessly challenged by the various religious leaders. The Scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and even the Herodians have all tried to find a way to discredit by asking Him some shrewd question. Each time Jesus has answered so skillfully that His reputation as a man of truth showing the way to God was enhanced while they were put to shame as being ignorant of the law and lacking in moral character. Now Jesus turns the tables and begins to question them and begins with the point central to Christmas.
Look at verse 41, Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” A profound question, a more direct question, a more pointed question could not be asked. It is still the central question that we need to be asking those around us. It is the main question that needs to dominate our efforts at evangelism. Who do you believe that Jesus called the Christ is? Is He who He claims to be or something else? Over the centuries there have been many that claimed Him to be something else. He has been called many things, not all of them nice: just a good teacher, a great philosopher, an important historical figure, the founder of a great world religion, the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier, a demented man lead astray by visions of grandeur, a man caught in a tragedy. The very people that Jesus was asking this question had previously said that Jesus was empowered by Satan.
Who is Jesus? Central to that question is His origin. Whose son is He? If you determine who His father is, you will determine at the same time who He is. The Christ, whose son is He?
Notice how Jesus asks the question. He does not ask them directly who they think He is, for they have said in the past what they thought of that. In John 8:41 they said to Jesus, “We are not born of fornication; we have one father, God.” The direct implication being they thought Jesus was born of fornication. So instead Jesus asked them what they believed about the Messiah (Christ is simply the Greek word for Messiah). He was getting to the underlying issue to why they refused to believe that Jesus was God’s son. Jesus claimed to be both God’s son and the Messiah, but they did not believe that the Messiah, the Christ, would be God incarnate.
Look at verse 42. Jesus question, “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is he?” Their answer, “The son of David.” They understood this aspect of who the Messiah would be and that “Son of David” was a messianic term. They understood that the Messiah would have to come from the Davidic line for the promise had been given to David in 2 Samuel 7. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all told of an heir of David’s that would sit on his throne forever. That is why the Scripture records the genealogy of Jesus traces directly to king David. Mary is a direct descendent of David, so Jesus is directly of David’s blood line. And Joseph also was a direct descendent of David establishing Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David as Joseph’s legal heir.
That phrase, “son of David” had been applied to Jesus just three days earlier by the multitudes that had gathered as Jesus entered Jerusalem – “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” The next day the children in the temple shouted the same thing, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Hosanna means, save us we pray, so together they were crying out – Save us we pray, son of David – Messiah.
On both occasions some of the religious leaders were upset about this and asked Jesus to make them stop. Jesus replied during His triumphal entry that if the people did not shout, then the very stones would shout it out (Luke 19:40). When they were indignant the next day that the young boys in the temple were shouting it Jesus told them that God had prepared for Himself praise from the young children. In other words, on both occasions Jesus made it plain that He was accepting what the people and the children were saying because it was true. That title was part of the prophecy of the Angel in Luke 1:32 that Jesus would be given the “throne of his father David.” Jesus was the son of David – the Messiah.
The religious leaders did not like that for Jesus did not fit their pre-conceived and tightly held notions that the Messiah would be a conquering hero that would through off Roman oppression and set up Jerusalem as the capital of a revived kingdom that would surpass Solomon’s. They fully expected to personally benefit when the Messiah would come – not be opposed and exposed for who they really were as Jesus was doing to them.
They knew that the Christ was to be a descendent of David’s, but Jesus claimed to be both the Christ, Son of David and the Son of God. How could He be both? They thought that Jesus must then be a lunatic, an illegitimate child who was empowered by Satan.
Jesus answered this dilemma in verse 43-45 by presenting to them a truth that was beyond anything they had thought before, and tragically, beyond what they were willing to believe. Jesus was both – existing prior to David and yet His descendent.
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”‘? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?
The quote is taken from Psalm 110 which is a Psalm written by David, and as Jesus says here, David wrote this Psalm by the Holy Spirit. This was not just some poetic musings of David, but God the Holy Spirit using David to reveal divine truth. And the truth revealed is a conversation that takes place in heaven. The first “Lord” mentioned is the covenant name for God – which we usually pronounce as either Jehovah or Yahweh. The second “Lord” refers to “David’s Lord,” which Jesus indicates is the Christ. That may not be so clear in your English text unless your version has put the first “LORD” in all capital letters. This is very clear in the Hebrew text for they are two distinct words. Remember that the Jews tried to be so careful that they would never say God’s name in vain that they would not use His covenant name. Instead, whenever they came to His name in any text, they would simply say “Lord” instead of Jehovah or Yahweh. Our English texts follow suit with some putting the name Yahweh in all capital letters so you will know what is actually written.
So it is David, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Yahweh said to the Messiah, “Sit at My right hand until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet.” God the Father said to God the Son to sit at His right side until all His enemies were subdued and brought into subjugation before Him. That will occur and at the name of Jesus “every knee shall bow” and “every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10,11). But Jesus’ point here is that David called the Messiah his Lord before the Messiah had become His son. How could that be?
There is only one way that could be. The Christ could not be a mere man. The Christ existed prior to David and was his lord, yet the Christ was also the direct descendent of David. That is exactly what Jesus claimed of Himself – that He existed prior to becoming a man and was in fact equal with God. This comes up in several places, one of the most direct is John 8:58 where Jesus tells them, “Before Abraham was, I Am,” using the very name God gave for Himself to Moses. Moses asked who he would tell the Egyptians was sending Him, and God said, “I Am who I Am,” tell them “I Am has sent [you]” (Ex. 3:14). Jesus existed prior not only David, but Abraham as well and He existed as the “I AM.”
The Christ could not be just mere man, but must also be God who became a man. And that is what Christmas is all about. It is not about a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. It is not about Mary and Joseph. It is not about Angels singing to shepherds. It is not about wise men coming from the East. All that is important, but it is all secondary to what had occurred. What God had just accomplished is what is central. God had become a human. Immanuel, God in human flesh was here. The promise of redemption was unfolding before their very eyes.
Rembrandt’s painting of the manger scene is probably one of the best, not because it is accurate to what really occurred, for no painting in existence is accurate to that, but because of the manner in which he brought out what is central in that scene. Certainly Rembrandt has all the secondary figures present – Mary and Joseph, shepherds, wise men – and even himself – along with various animals. But the beauty of Rembrandt’s painting is having a shaft of light illumine Jesus lying in the manger with everything else dark and subdued. Your eye immediately is attracted to and focuses on Jesus – which is what we should do. Focus on Jesus.
The manger scene itself has been so romanticized that you think of it as being attractive. “Oh how wonderful for Mary and Joseph and Jesus to be there in that cozy place with so much attention being given to them.” Let’s remember, this is a stable and Jesus is lying in a feeding trough for animals. Any of you ladies want to give birth in a barn where the ground is covered with straw, the light is provided oil lamps and a fire on the ground, and best place you can find to let your new born baby sleep is a feeding trough?
Let the attraction of the manger scene be what God intended – God’s incomprehensible love for man. A love generated not by anything in man, but because of His own nature. A love so great that He humbled Himself to become a man. A man who would identify with common people and then redeem them from their sins by dying in the place. When you think of Christmas or see a manger scene, think of God’s love, think of Him humbling Himself to become a man, think of is dying in our place to save us from our sins and bring us back into relationship with Himself.
The religious leaders that had faced off with Jesus finally realized that Jesus was more than their match. Verse 46 tells us that “no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.” There would be no more shrewd questions trying to trip Him up. They were afraid of Him. It is not that they could not answer Him for the answer to Jesus questions is obvious. David could call the Christ ‘Lord’ even though He would be David’s descendent because the Christ would be God in human flesh. They could have answered, but they refused to answer. They refused to believe.
Who is Jesus? Whose Son is He? Jesus claim is clear and direct. He is the Son of David but He has no earthly father. He is the Son of God and the son of Mary – He is fully God and fully man. The miracle of the virgin conceiving a child by the work of the Holy Spirit. The One who has eternally existed entered time and space. That is Jesus’ claim. That is what the Scriptures teach. What do you say? How do you respond? The religious leaders of Jesus day rejected Jesus’ claim. The majority of people presently alive and the majority of people that have ever lived have rejected Jesus’ claim. They have called Jesus many different things, some nice, some not so nice, some profane, but they will not call Him Lord. What will you call Him?
If you reject Jesus claim and agree with the majority, you will continue on the same path they are, the broad path that leads to eternal destruction (Matt 7:13). You have been warned.
If you accept His claim and call Him Lord, recognizing that He is God in human flesh. Then there are a lot of ramifications. The most immediate is that today is not a day of self centered greed – what presents did I get, what food items am I going to stuff myself with – it is a day of celebration, of joy for what God has done. Make sure He gets the praise.