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Potent Prooftexts: Duh

18 March 2011 by David

Q. 11. How does it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?

A. The Scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto them such names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to God only.

The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” —Psalm 110:1

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” 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 Your enemies beneath Your feet’?

If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. —Matthew 22:41–46 (cf. Mark 12:35–37; Luke 20:41–44; Acts 2:32–36)

Almost universally, the name of Jesus is treated with respect. In polls, he always ranks high among most admired characters. At the same time, most of those who claim to admire him also deny his divinity. And, paradoxically, many of those who deny his divinity also call themselves Christian. Which brings us to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the religious elite of their day. Today, they would be the mainline denominational bishops and seminary professors. They were the most Jewish of Jews, and should have been the first to recognize and welcome their Messiah, but they did not. So Jesus asked them a question about the Messiah: “whose son is he?”

Now, if the Pharisees had been American teenagers, they would have replied with a roll of the eyes and a sarcastic “Duh!” Every Jew knew the Messiah was the son of David. The trouble was that that’s all they believed he was. The Messiah would be a king in the line of David, whose dynasty would never be overthrown. At last, Israel would forever be free from foreign oppression.

The Pharisees surely knew what Jesus was after with that question. He was frequently hailed as the “the son of David,” — synonymous with “Messiah,” — and willingly accepted the acclaim. This infuriated them to no end, so to answer, as they must, “the son of David,” must have left a sour taste in their mouths.

To this correct, if reluctant, answer, Jesus replied in “Gotcha!” fashion: If the Messiah is David’s son, why does David call him “Lord”? He quotes Psalm 110, which the Jews, especially the Pharisees, knew was messianic: Why does David say, “the Lord (Yahweh) says to my Lord (the Messiah), sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for Your feet”? The implication was obvious: the Messiah is no mere man; he is divine, equal with Yahweh. Furthermore, “son of David” is an inadequate title: “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” The Messiah is not merely the son of David; he is the Son of God.

And in conclusion …

Jesus left the conclusion hanging in the air, unspoken. He didn’t need to say it. He had demonstrated divine power through his miracles. He had accepted the title of Messiah. Now he had demonstrated, from their own Scriptures, that the Messiah — whose title he accepted — was God. And their mouths were shut.