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God’s Word for You

Luke 20:41-44 How then can he be his son

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, February 15, 2019

41 Then he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand 43 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ 44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

The Scribes especially focused their attention on the prophecy that the Messiah would be descended from David. Psalm 110 is just one of the places where this is stated, but Jesus uses it to show that they were not reading the whole Psalm. If the Messiah divine, how is he David’s son? David’s son would be a man, a mere human. He would be their idea of a Messiah, a ‘small-m’ messiah who would be a military ruler of Israel, like the Judges of old, but who might also be manipulated by men behind the scenes. They did not want to say that the Messiah would be God. So Jesus points this out: The Psalm clearly says that David’s son the Messiah is in fact God, since David calls him “my Lord.”

By pointing this out as a question, Jesus is calling out the Scribes’ reluctance to admit that what the Bible says is true. They wanted to believe only one part, but not the whole thing.

In the Psalm, God (the LORD) says to Christ (the Lord), “Sit at my right hand.” This is the place of authority, majesty, and power. Not only does the Messiah sit at God’s right hand, he is himself the right hand of God, the one through whom God does his saving work. “You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me” (Psalm 138:7).

David says, “Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” This, too, is a proclamation of Christ’s divinity. Who makes all enemies his footstool but God alone? In every way, Christ is divine. The Messiah is God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is equal to God the Father in every way. This is why we confidently say in the creed, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord.” The Lord’s disciple John puts it this way: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23). John is basing his statement on the words of the Father himself: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). Peter adds his testimony to John’s: “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:18-19).

God sent us his Son as a man in one respect—and this was the most important respect—so that he would be able to atone for our sins with his blood. A spirit, even God, has no blood. But a man has blood to shed, and therefore the God-man, Jesus Christ, was able not only to shed his blood, but on account of his divinity, his blood has infinite value, and could (and did) atone for all the sins of all mankind. Yet there is another facet to the sending of the Messiah as a man rather than as a spirit. We are able to comprehend him better because he is a man. We look to him, we listen to him, and we imitate him, because he is a man. Aristotle describes the importance of human portrayal when explaining a portrait: “The most beautiful colors, laid on confusedly, will not give as much pleasure as the chalk outline of a portrait” (Poetics Chap. 6). We still see this today. In Dadaist or in abstract art, the eye wanders and wonders, but if there is anything that resembles a solid form (an animal or flower, for example) or more especially a human form, the eye will naturally be drawn to it. This is probably the underlying principle of the ink spots used in psychotherapy. So it is with modern ambient music. If the music is vague and distant, the mind is not easily drawn in, but if there is a human voice, and especially in a language understood by the listener, then the music draws our attention and becomes meaningful. Thus it is with God’s epiphany as a human being. By revealing himself to us in a human body, descended from David and born of the virgin Mary, we have an image, or as Aristotle would say, a portrait (εἰκόνα). But even more than that. Christ is no mere representation of God; Christ is indeed God, in the flesh. The appearing of Jesus is important for every reason: as an example, as a reference point, but most especially as the sacrifice that atoned for our sins. We focus our attention on Jesus, and put our faith in him, and we have forgiveness and eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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