Who is the Messiah?

Some of the questions that Jesus’ opponents put to him were unimportant, even senseless. He now put to them the really important question: what was their view of the Messiah? Jews understood the Messiah to be the son (descendant) of David, but thought of him almost solely as a political figure who would rule Israel in a golden age. Jesus wanted to show that this view was inadequate. The Messiah was far more than the son of David (Matt 22:41-42).


Jesus referred his hearers to Psalm 110, a psalm that Jews of his time regarded as messianic. The psalm had been written a thousand years earlier, to be sung by the temple singers in praise of King David after he conquered Jerusalem and established his throne there. But the person who wrote the words was David himself; and, as Jesus pointed out, they were written under the inspiration of the Spirit in praise of the Messiah. This means that the opening words of the psalm, where the temple singers expressed homage to David by calling him ‘my Lord’, were the same words by which David expressed homage to the Messiah. The Messiah, who everyone knew was David’s descendant, was also David’s Lord. The Messiah was not only an earthly figure but also a divine figure (Matt 22:43-45; cf. Acts 2:34-36).

The people understood, at least to some extent, the meaning of Jesus’ words and dared not try to trick him with any more questions. He was telling them, yet again, that his work was not to revive and expand the old earthly kingdom of Israel, but to establish an entirely different kind of kingdom, the kingdom of God (Matt 22:46).

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