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WHO THE CHRIST IS

Matthew 22:41-22:46
Key Verse: 22:44

Thank God for teaching us the first and greatest commandment and the second. May the two commandments, “Love the Lord your God…” and “Love your neighbour…” be at the centre of our hearts and minds. Today’s passage seems to be insignificant, a mere chronological description of a story, but it is not. When we look at gospels, we see that Jesus rarely questioned people. This signifies that his questions are very important and worthy of our deep meditation. In this event recorded in Matthew’s gospel we find four questions which all were raised by Jesus. That sufficiently tells us the significance of this passage. Its main theme is about who the Christ is.

First, he is the son of David (41-42). Look at verse 41. “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them.” This would be the last debate in the series of Jesus’ debates with the religious leaders in the temple. The debates were done most likely on Tuesday in the Holy week. It started with the chief priests and the elders of the people’ questioning him, “By what authority are you doing these things?” (21:23). After this, Jesus told them three parables, the parable of the two sons (21:28-32), the parable of the tenants (21:33-46), and the parable of the wedding banquet (22:1-14). Then the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Jesus answered, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (22:15-22). Next the Sadducees came and asked about a woman to whom seven brothers were married, “At the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven…?” Jesus replied, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven…God is not the God of the dead but of the living” (22:23-33). In the previous passage, one of the Pharisees, an expert in the law, asked, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and love your neighbour as yourself” (22:34-40).

So far Jesus had been asked consecutively in the debates. Now in this last debate Jesus asked the Pharisees who were gathered together. It is interesting that in this last debate Jesus asked them four questions that were all related just as he had been questioned four times until now. The first question is “What do you think about the Christ?” In Matthew’s gospel, “What do you think” is Jesus’ good way of talking with people (17:25; 18:12; 21:28; 22:42). Here Jesus asked, “What do you think about the Christ?” It can be one of the biggest questions in Christianity and even in the whole history of mankind. “Christ” is the equivalent word in Greek for “Messiah” in Hebrew. He is the one whom God promised to send into this world for mankind. The word “Messiah” (that is Christ) does not appear in the Old Testament. The gospel of Matthew, which is the first book of the New Testament, begins with these words, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…” Living in this world, Jesus did not directly claim his Messiah-ship, saying, “I am the Christ” or “I am the Son of God.” Rather, he liked the title the Son of Man and identified himself with this title. Then he made every effort to reveal himself who he really is through his teaching and work and his life. Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). At the time of Jesus’ trial the high priest said to him, “Tell us if you are the Christ…” Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say” (Mt 26:63-64). And when Jesus told his disciples about the signs of the end of the age, he said, “Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,”…“false Christs…will appear and perform great signs and miracles…” (Mt 24:5,24). In our times people have various thoughts and opinions about the Christ. “What do you think about the Christ?”, it is an open and free question. But according to the Bible each one’s thought or view about the Christ determines his or her eternal destiny.

After the question, “What do you think about the Christ,” Jesus right away asked, “Whose son is he?” At this they replied, “The son of David.” It seems to be an easy question to them. So they answered quickly without much thinking. At Jesus’ time most Jews knew that the Messiah would come through David’s lineage. He would come as a descendant of David according to God’s promise (2 Sa 7:13-16; 1 Ch 17:11-14; Ro 1:3). They answered so easily, but “he is the son of David” carries an important message. It shows God’s faithfulness in keeping his promise and also his immeasurable grace to mankind. Christ came into the world through a human line. Matthew 1:1 says, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” And the end of this genealogy says in 1:16, “and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Jesus Christ was born of Virgin Mary. Matthew wrote in chapter 2 that he would be a shepherd of his people (2:6). Jesus once went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:35-36). Human beings seem to have many problems. But one main problem is having no shepherd who can protect them from evil ones and teach them fundamental truths and feed their souls the words of God and help them to stand up at any circumstances by faith.

Jesus was a shepherd for God’s flock of sheep. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30). A bruised reed he would not break, and a smoldering wick he would not snuff out, till he led justice to victory. Risking his life he healed a man with a shriveled hand who looked useless and of whom the Pharisees wanted to make use. There were two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but the shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” People had no ears to hear the inner cry of the blind men, but only were bothered by their outer cry. Jesus the Messiah, however, was different. At their persistent cry Jesus finally stopped, though he was on his heavy way to Jerusalem to be killed, and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and restored their sight (Mt 20:29-34). When he entered Jerusalem, he did not ride on a white stallion as conquering generals had done, even though he was truly a triumphant king. Rather he rode on a donkey and her colt. In this event Matthew quoted the words of Zechariah, “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’” (Mt 21:5). This is an excellent description of a gentle shepherd king. Thank and praise God that Jesus is the son of David.

Second, he is the Lord of David (43-46). Jesus came as a descendant of David. Again it is God’s mercy and grace to mankind. But wicked people despised him simply because he was humble and looked poor. Authorities opposed him time and again to destroy him. So here comes Jesus’ main question. Look at verses 43-44. “He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him “Lord”? For he says, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” If then David calls him “Lord,” how can he be his son?’” Through these consecutive questions Jesus was teaching them that the Christ could not be understood by human logical thinking. All human logic fails to comprehend the Christ. To human mind what is said about the Christ in the Scripture seems to be contradictory. In our times there are many people who try to view the Christ with their human logic only. Once they are bound by logic, it is hard to get out. This was the problem with the Pharisees and many other Jews. But with spiritual understanding there is no contradiction about the Christ. He is a human and also divine. The Christ must be understood spiritually above the human logic. Spiritual understanding comes when one believes what is written in the Scriptures. This is a spiritual secret. That’s why Jesus taught the Scriptures whenever there were opportunities. And this is the reason people need Bible study.

One young woman was philosophically minded. With that mind she studied the Bible. Then her mind was blocked to understand the true meaning of the words of the Bible. But when she humbled herself and personally believed one word of God, her mind was opened to understand the truthful words of God and consequently see the Christ personally. God’s words have become very clear and sweet to her. She became Jemmie Sweety Hwang, a sweet person, because of Jesus and his words of truth. Nowadays she joyfully shares the sweet words of God with others.

This time Jesus spoke from Psalm 110:1: the exact words are “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” But Jesus made a slight free quotation, yet the meaning is absolutely the same. The quotation is “…until I put your enemies under your feet.” Look at verses 43-44 again. “He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your foot.”’” Here when Jesus said, “David, speaking by the Spirit,” he confirmed the truthfulness of the words of Psalm 110:1. It is one of the most important messianic texts in the Old Testament. So Jesus challenged the Pharisees with these words. Jesus was originally in glory with the Father (Jn 1:1; 1:14). But he came to this world and died on the cross for man’s sins and rose again from the dead and was ascended into heaven. God the Father was so pleased with the Son’s work for man’s salvation. Son in David’s prophetic vision he spoke to the Son, “Sit at my right hand…” David did not ascend to heaven, yet he had saw vision. Psalm 110:1 is David’s prophecy about the Christ, and the conversation between the Father and the Son in the prophecy was about the complete victory of Christ the Son in the sovereign ruling of God the Father. David was known as the most glorious and powerful king on the earth, because God put his enemies under his feet (1 Ki 5:3). But he called the coming Christ “my Lord.” Christ is the Lord over all the kings including David, for God would put the enemies under his feet.

The Psalm 110:1 is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament (Ac 2:34,35; Heb 1:13; 1 Cor 15:25-27; Heb 10:13). Paul wrote this quotation repeatedly in 1 Corinthians 15:25-27. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he (God) ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.” By using the expression, “under his feet” three or four times, Paul seemed to exclaim in the resurrection chapter the complete victory of Christ Jesus who had indeed been raised from the dead.

When we look at the world, evil power seems to be prevailing, and truth thrown to the ground. But that’s not true. All the evil power will be rooted out. We see this in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus once told the parable of the weeds. In a single field, wheat and weeds were growing together. When the servants of the owner saw the appearance of the weeds, they wanted to pull them up right away. But the owner did not permit the servants to do it, because he worried that the wheat would also be pulled out along with the weeds. So he said, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Then Jesus said, “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 13:40-42). Jesus told another parable, the parable of the net. Fishermen let down their net in the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. Then Jesus said, “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 13:47-50). In this world it is true that no one knows what will happen tomorrow. But Jesus foresaw the end of the age and clearly said of the righteous final judgment.

Paul described the victory and exaltation of Christ this way in Philippians 2:9-11. “Therefore (because of his humbleness and obedience to death, even death on a cross) God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And in Revelation there were loud voiced in heaven, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Rev 11:15)

Last Monday M. Sarah was laid off after working as a senior manger in TD for almost four years. It was done all of a sudden. That morning she was called to the Human Resources department and was told, “From this moment don’t go to your office; just go home. This is our company’s decision.” Then she was asked, “Do you have any questions?” They expected that she would say many things in shock, bitterness, frustration, and depression. A counselor had already been called to help in case. But she just said, “No question. I believe in the Lord.” Then the one who spoke to her was surprised at her answer. I really thanked God that M. Sarah could honour the name of the Lord while she was working there and to the last moment. We must believe at any situation that Christ is the Lord, especially when we face adverse situations or meet the injustice and hostility of this world. Christ must be believed not only as the son of David, but also as the Lord of David, the one who will have the complete victory over everything in God’s sovereignty. He is the Lord of all.

Look at verse 46. “No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” At this the series of the debates were finished with Jesus’ decisive victory. Matthew 22:46 is a very meaningful description. Now there seem to be many questions and controversies about Christ Jesus. But the time will come when all human mouths will silenced with no more questions or controversies.

We thank and praise God for the Christ, who is the shepherd of mankind and the Lord of all. May we live in this world with absolute faith in him.

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