Yesterday I preached Mark 12:35-37 in our morning worship service. After a lengthy series of questions hurled at Jesus, He now turned to ask a question of His own. In fact, as it was Wednesday in the Passion Week, Jesus is only two days from being nailed to the Roman cross. It was at this moment, in His final confrontation with these skeptics, that Jesus desired to make His identity clear. It would serve two purposes. First, it would solidify this reality for His disciples and it would serve as a final humiliating theological fact for His opposition – one they were unwilling to accept. There is no greater question to consider in this life that could possibly transcend this simple question: Who is Jesus?
The Question of Identity
Jesus’ question was simple, but yet profound. He asked, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David” (Mark 12:35)? While speaking in the third person, Jesus distanced Himself from the equation on purpose in order for the skeptics to consider the question fully. The point was much like Jesus’ statement about Abraham in John 8:58. The One who predates the prophet came after him. The Christ predates David, yet, He came after Him. In the minds of those who opposed Jesus, they were still awaiting the Christ to come. They were unwilling to accept the fact that the Christ of God was standing before them.
The title of Christ, Χριστός in the Greek means, “The anointed One of God – the Messiah.” Jesus had made it abundantly clear that He is the Christ. He demonstrated it through His preaching, His miracles, and the fact that He fulfilled all of the Messianic prophecies. Jesus once asked His disciples this question and it’s recorded in Matthew 16. Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is” (Matthew 16:13). They responded, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus responded with another question, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The disciples came to understand that He is the Christ, but their faith was often weak. No matter what Jesus did, the unbelieving skeptics were blind and deaf spiritually and could not see the truth.
The Prophetic Foundation of Jesus’ Identity
Jesus quoted from Psalm 110, a well known Messianic Psalm to establish the foundation of His identity. In His quotation of David, he likewise upheld a firm commitment to the inspiration of Scripture. It was David himself who wrote, but he wrote in the Spirit of God. This statement is in tune with 2 Peter 1:21 and 2 Timothy 3:16. Jesus had a high view of Scripture.
Psalm 110 is a very important Psalm. Without question, it’s about the Messiah. The entire Psalm is focused on the Messiah. There is no theological and exegetical digging necessary to see if it’s a true Messianic Psalm, it’s clear from the beginning. The interesting point regarding Psalm 110 is that it’s the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. Psalm 110:1 is quoted many times, some 27 times in the New Testament. This is one very important song written down by King David, and Jesus quotes it one last time before He goes off to the cross in order to establish His true identity.
The Son of David is the Sovereign Lord – the Messiah. Although He comes after him, the Son of David was before Him. Earlier when Jesus was passing by blind Bartimaeus, he called out with passion to Jesus saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47)! Unlike the religious establishment of the day, blind Bartimaeus could see that Jesus is the Son of David. Although the skeptics refused to connect the dots from 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 110 to Jesus, later John the Apostle was given the Revelation where Jesus said, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16).
The Rhetorical Question Focused on Jesus’ Deity
How can David call the Christ both Lord and son? This would require something miraculous – something the Sadducees would reject. The incarnation fulfilled this prophecy in totality. The Christ who is Lord became a man and by clothing Himself in human flesh, He was able to come through the line of David and be called – son. This put on display the mind blowing truth of Jesus’ deity. He was both God and man – the God-man.
Regarding Creation – Jesus was not only with the Father when light was spoken into existence (from nothing), but He was the One doing the act of creating. This is made clear in Colossians 1:16.
Regarding Prophetic Proclamation – Jesus fulfilled all of the promises of the Messiah. From the place of birth to His name, His suffering, shame, and eventual sacrifice for His people. He became the Prophet greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), the Priest greater than Melchizedek (Hebrews 4:14), and the King greater than David (Philippians 2:5-11; Revelation 19:16).
Regarding Salvation – Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He upheld the law of God in perfection and died a substitutionary death for sinners (1 Peter 2:24). After being put to death, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day. After preaching and appearing to many people over a period of 40 days, He ascended into heaven and fulfilled Psalm 24 as He sat down at the right hand of the Father in a place of prominence, prestige, honor, and sovereignty.
The skeptics refused to believe the preaching of Jesus, but on this day, the great throng gladly heard Jesus. What about you? Do you gladly hear Jesus? Jesus is not a cosmic boogeyman nor is He a figurine you unbox at Christmas. His identity demands worship and devotion.
Do you gladly hear the gospel of Christ and does it make you glad in God? The truth of this gospel presented by Jesus leads us to sing:
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
— Horatio G. Spafford, 1873.