Thursday, March 3, 2016

Son of David

Jeff Davis

Jesus confronted who he was as the Messiah, but also regarding him coming from the line of David in Luke 20:41-44 (NIV), “Then Jesus said to them, Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: The Lord is to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.  David calls him Lord, How then can he be his son?”  Throughout all of Jesus’s ministry he is noted as the Son of David by the people he encountered.  Being called the Son of David directly connects Jesus’s humanity and fulfilment of scripture at the same time.  Isaiah prophecies regarding this genealogy, 11:1-5 (NIV) “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.” Jesus fulfilled many of these prophecies during his earthly ministry and he now continues to carry them out forever and ever.
During Jesus ministry he commanded authority over sickness, over poverty, and over the wicked lips of his generation.  He also set the standard for what it means to be righteous.  Calvin writes about the humanity of Jesus through the linage of David in the institutes.  He quotes Romans 1:1-4, “Set apart for the gospel of God which God had promised before hand...concerning his Son, who was begotten from the seed of David according to the flesh and declared Son of God in power.” (Institutes 12.6 pg 489)  Paul makes mention of Jesus as the descendant of David. Paul also connects his resurrection from the dead which also gives claim to his divinity.  Paul links the two together.  This makes the distinguishing separation between his human nature and divine nature as well.  Calvin makes a point to emphasize that it is the repeated notion of Christ’s connection with his heritage that solidifies his humanity even being born of a virgin there is still the Flesh part of Jesus nature that needs to be accounted for.  The Roman passage bridges the two natures of Christ together.  He was born a decent of David and his resurrection makes him king forever.  He establishes David’s throne forever by his work on the cross and his conquering of death also fulfilling the promises of God.
The gospel of Matthew starts with the linage of Christ from Adam to Mary.  The work of God’s hand permeates all throughout the laying of the foundation of his humanity.  Matthew is writing to an audience that would have taken the genealogy of Jesus very seriously and Matthew discerns that his audience will connect with Jesus through his humanity and then through faith with his divinity.   Jews for Jesus goes further explanation on how the genealogy that is written is important still in the faith of both Jews and Christians alike and the article contrast the linage from Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38.  Calvin however leaves us with this important question, “What right have our opponents to deny that he who is Son of man according to the flesh is, with respect to his divine nature, Son of God?” (Institutes 12.6 pg 490)  


  1. Thanks, Jeff, for your post - how interesting! I especially like the article and detailed explanation of the two genealogies.

    It seems greedy to have our cake and eat it, too, concerning the Son of David references. It seems we can't use David and Jesus claiming that David is not the Father of the Lord as proof of Jesus' divinity (Psalm 110, Luke 20:41-44) and then turn around and use the genealogies from David in Matthew and Luke as proof of Jesus' humanity. Nevertheless, I thought Calvin had innumerable other Scriptural references to support both humanity and divinity. Personally, I find the references to Christ's physical needs the most compelling evidence of his humanity - hunger, thirst, fatigue. Even Calvin said, "From these numerous testimonies we must choose those particular ones which serve to edify our minds in true confidence." (2.13.1) I think, in reading the Gospel, each believer will find a little something different that resonates with his/her way of thinking.

    For those that have a hard time wrapping their mind around the humanity/divinity issue, I found Calvin's assertion, "For even if the Word in his immeasurable essence united with the nature of man into one person, we do not imagine that he was confined therein," (2.13.4) particularly enlightening. As humans, I think we tend to get stuck in thinking human is only human and God is only God. We must be willing to consider one particular human in the course of history that defied this definition, or we will remain stuck.

    1. I agree with you Sharon we can get stuck on the division between Jesus being human and being God. I find myself trying to refer to Jesus when he gets angry in the Temple and turned tables and became upset that people were turning God's house into a den of robbers to help someone come to grips with their own anger and how to have a proper response. I usually get more questions then answers. Also, when Jesus wept in front of Lazarus's tomb moments before he was about to rise him from the dead. We try to connect with the emotions of Jesus to figure out how we as Christians need to handle our emotions better. But even when Jesus had a whip in his hand and turning over tables He was without sin. How can we even begin to measure up to that or understand how to center ourselves to do the best we can. It's the divinity of Jesus that steadies his his anger. At the same time it's his humanity that causes his eyes to water and his throat to claim up in front of a tomb of a best friend. We go through these things all throughout life. It's so reassuring to me we worship a God that has felt it as real as we feel it too.

    2. Jeff - this is interesting. I think we often associate anger with sin, but it is not necessarily sin, is it especially in the case of Jesus and anger, like our other, emotions can be used to serve God which, I think, Jesus shows here.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Thanks for this interesting discussion, Jeff. Christy, I agree with your statement that anger is not necessarily sin. In fact, we can even take anger to God in prayer, even if we're angry with God! Reference Psalms 44, 83, and 109. Again, thanks!

  2. Jeff great commentary on the two natures of Christ. As I think of Jesus being both divine and human I go back to the words John the Baptist said to him about baptizing Jesus. John was calling for repentance of sin which he Knew Jesus did not have. I think this is why John was confused on the issue. When Jesus said it was to fill all righteousness I'm sure He was referring to His human nature which made it fitting.

  3. HI Jeff, thanks for the nice summary! I think one of the difficulties we have as humans is to understand how someone can truly have 2 natures: fully God, fully human, for being fully human in our current world also means sin. That Jesus does not have sin makes him seemingly not human. But, like Adam, he is tempted, but unlike Adam, he does not give into temptation. He is God's new beginning and what better way than to be an example and a sacrifice for God' creatures.