While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
The large crowd listened to him with delight.
As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
The scriptures taught that the Messiah would come from the line of David. So, the scribes taught the Messiah was only an elevated human. The fact the Messiah came from David’s line was such a strong belief, Satan could not overturn it. So rather than overturn it He overemphasized it. The Messiah would be a mere man. But a mere man could not mediate between God and men.
Satan allowed them to acknowledge Christ as human but stripped Him of his Divinity. Satan demolished the hope of eternal life and spiritual righteousness. A half-truth deceives better than a whole lie.
Here Christ points to His divinity. He asks a simple question. Why do they say the Messiah is the son of David? Christ was not challenging the idea that the Messiah was the son of David. He was pointing out they ignored the parts of scripture they either could not explain or did not like. They were proof-texting.
Sound Christian doctrine must take into account all the scripture. We cannot ignore the difficult parts. We can not emphasize the parts we like over the parts we do not understand. All of the scripture teaches.
Christ does not admonish the scribes for teaching the Messiah was the Son of David. He admonishes them for teaching He was a mere man. The scribes taught He came from heaven but was only as a man. Christ taught His divinity as well as His humanity.
Christ begins with the emphatic statement that David spoke by the Holy Spirit. The Psalms were not composed by David but originated with the prophetic Spirit. It described the future reign of Christ. It did not apply to David, or to any other king on earth.
The Messiah ranks higher than a mere descendant of David. David was king. He was head of the people. David called him Lord. So it follows, there is something greater in the Messiah than being a mere man. Jesus was pressing the language here to get his opponents to reflect on how great the Messiah is.
Christ is above David and all other kings. He also ranks higher than angels. This would not apply to a created man. He must be God manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 3:16.)
In the Psalm Jesus quoted, the Lord tells David’s Lord to sit at His right hand. This is a form of expression. It is not any particular place. It represents a place of honor. It is the place for the second in command. It signifies the highest government and power in the name of God. God committed His authority to His only-begotten Son. So He governs His Church.
Christ’s words were a delight to hear. And the crowd received them with joy.
Next, Christ gave a word of warning about the teachers of the law. This was not a personal attack. It was an attack on their false doctrine. Christ’s goal was not to cause the crowd to disrespect the teachers of the Law. It was to prevent the spreading of their false doctrine.
It is to our shame that the world notices and calls out false teachers when the church is unwilling to do so. The world does not call out false teachers teaching incorrect doctrine. The world calls them out for teaching for their own gain. They fleece the church. They fleece the elderly. The lead astray those who are weak in faith. The world mocks them. But the church defends them. Why?
The false teachers’ filth should never stain God’s word. They have no respect the what is honorable. The church will pray “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. Yet churches invite the very ones Christ condemns into their pulpits.
We are not to fear offending ungodly teachers. They pervert God’s word. They condemn their followers to hell. Not only should we speak out, we must speak out against them.
Christ spoke out against the scribes in public. We are not to fear speaking out and exposing false teachers in public. Their sin is public and demands a public rebuke.
We need to be cautious that we do not commit the same sin. Desiring the acknowledgment of men for our learning, our insight. or our ability to pray flowery prayers. Our ability to expound the word of God. Our ability to sing the loudest or be the most fervent worshiper.
What was it Jesus said these false teachers did? “They devour widows’ houses.” False teachers do the same today. They demand the poor, the widows, and the sick send them money. They threaten them with God withholding blessings unless they do. Yet the church promotes these men. They have no virtue.
“Watch out for the modern-day prophets. They like to go around in private jets and fine clothes. They like to hear the applause of the crowd when they enter an auditorium. They demand to sit on the platform in churches. They steal the life savings and meager income from the widows, poor and sick. And for a show make long prayers to sound righteous. God will punish these men most severely.”