Luke: Whose Son Is the Messiah?

Read: Luke 20:41-44

Chapter 20 seems to be a chapter of questions and answers, some of the FAQs for our edification as we grow in our knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ. The Pharisees ask about Jesus’ authority,  and whether it’s right to pay taxes. The Sadducees try to find support for their short-lived movement by talking about marriage at the resurrection.

In this passage, Jesus adds His own question for people to consider:

Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? Luke 20:41

Matthew 22:41-46 and Mark 12:35-37 both include this brief narrative, three of four gospels compel us to dig into this question, so let’s take a moment and see why this is so significant.

  • Matthew’s angle reveals a group of Pharisees gathered, perhaps trying to figure out who Jesus is or since we know the rest of the story, they may just be looking for ways to trip Him up. Matthew 22:46 lets us know they had no answer.
  • Mark 12:37b points out that there was a large crowd that heard this question along with its answer and responded with delight.
  • Luke chooses to let the rhetorical question linger, no response, no details about who heard the question.
  • All three consistently point to Psalm 110, Jesus’ most quoted psalm in the New Testament.

The Problem

The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.
Luke 20:42-43

If the Lord is speaking to David’s Lord, He must be of significant authority since David is historically known and the greatest king in Israel’s history. No one would argue that any king is greater, so we have to wonder about this Lord.

The Question

David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” Luke 20:44

From the most superficial perspective, Jesus had to be a man that absolutely amazed the learned scholars in the audience. In the previous section, He hushed the Sadducees with His answer about the resurrection. Now He pinpoints a riddle that it’s doubtful the scholars ever wrestled with, let alone had an answer for.

Jesus isn’t showing off, nor is He trying to intimidate these people, He’s trying to move them from their high places of authority to a higher place of understanding. We all have room to grow. The Bible gives us a leg-up on the challenge, but there is so much more to learn than just the text in front of us.

Our goal should be to learn the how and why more than the chapter and verse. In this case, I suspect the Pharisees could grab the scroll that contained Psalm 110 with ease and precision, but they had no idea about the weight of the few words quoted above.

The Answer

King David points to the Messiah as his Lord, the one who will sit at the right hand of God. He is “priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4), the One to be revered. See, you knew the answer was Jesus!

For those in the audience, the question essentially points out that since the Messiah is Lord of the Lord, the one who sits on His right with ultimate authority, why don’t you respect Jesus Christ who is standing right in front of you?

Wake up, people! He’s right in front of your eyes.


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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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