“A Last Confrontation to Those Not Far from the Kingdom: The Messiah is Descendant of David Yet David’s Lord”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Mark 12.35-37
You can turn to Mark chapter 12. I’m so glad to be back in the book of Mark with you. Our text this morning will be much shorter than what we’re used to. In fact, we will only be looking at three verses in Mark 12, verses 35-37.
And you can pray for me as we move forward in our series, what I have been calling our five-year series. We are quickly on our way to not meeting that goal, if you haven’t noticed. We have special messages and guest speakers and technically, were not even moving fast enough with the messages that I preach to meet that goal, let alone all the interruptions.
On top of that, last time we were in Mark, we ran through some of these passages that have some great applications of paying your taxes and giving yourself to God and loving God with all of who you are. And I’m wondering now if we’re missing some golden opportunities to really drive home some of these points at the expense of attempting to race through in 5 years.
So, I am thinking now that we will strike a balance between getting through the New Testament and honing in on some real serious dealings with the passages.
And this morning happens to be a passage that is quite important for a number of reasons. One of which is that the passage that Jesus quotes in verse 36 is the most often quoted and alluded to Old Testament passage in the New Testament. Psalm 110:1 is quoted more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament passage. So we would do well to really give ourselves to the understanding of why this is the case this morning.
Context of passage
Allow me to set the context. Starting in chapter 12 verse 13 and running to the end of chapter 12 are two sets of three encounters, all of which involve Jesus. In the first three encounters between Jesus and his enemies, Jesus is on defense and answers 3 questions brought by religious leaders. We detailed those last time. In the last three encounters, which starts where our passage does, in v. 35, Jesus switches to offense.
In verses 35-37, Jesus attacks the scribe’s theology concerning the nature of the Messiah. And after he does that, the Lord Jesus attacks the ethics of the scribes in verses 38-40. At the beginning of verse 40, it says there that the scribes devour widows’ houses. And the very next story beginning in verse 41 gives a live illustration of one widow’s house that these religious leaders have devoured. And there, of course, is the story of the widow’s mite, that she gave all she had, just 2 copper coins.
So you may just want to tie in the stories there by marking widow in verse 40 and widow in verse 41 to show that tie between the stories. Verse 41, again, is an illustration of Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes in verse 40.
So that’s kind of where were headed, but our text will be just vv.35-37 this morning.
To properly address the passage this morning, we need to back up 1 verses and note Mark 12:34. Jesus discusses with a scribe about the greatest commandment and they actually agree on what the greatest commandment is: it’s to love God and love your neighbor. So the man answers intelligently and Jesus says Mark 12:34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.
I’m going to make a couple of points about that verse, but first when we come to verse 35, we are in the same context. Mark 12:35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, …
…so we are still in the Temple and Jesus has just finished talking with this scribe in v.34 and Jesus tells him that he is not far from the kingdom of God. And as we noted last time, even though he is not far, he is not actually in the kingdom. What will it take for him or others like him there to actually enter the kingdom?
He needs to understand the person of Christ found in verses 35-37. So in verses 35-37 is the kind of thing that Jesus would tell someone who is not far from the kingdom of God. What would Jesus say to someone who is not far from receiving eternal life? Jesus would say something like verses 35-37.
And these verses, of course, are given to a Jew who does not understand what is necessary for salvation. So whatever it is that people are not clear on about salvation is what Jesus would address. In this case, it’s that the man is unclear concerning a proper Christology. Who is the Christ? What is He like, His nature? But for someone that you might be talking with, it might be a little different; you may have to address repentance, turning away from sin, or perhaps the resurrection. So, Jesus deals with this man’s Christology … this man who is not far from the kingdom of God.
And as well, from verse 34, we can gather that this is the last opportunity that Jesus gets to explain to his opposition who he is. End of verse 34, “After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.” This is Jesus last opportunity. After this, the next time there is a confrontation between Jesus and his opposition is when they come to arrest him. And he no longer has any formal opportunity to explain who he is and his mission.
And we will apply this this morning to anyone in this room or anyone we may talk to and we might very well be the last person that they have a chance to hear the gospel from. And you might be in a situation where you have opportunity to give the gospel and you do and that opportunity was the last time that they had to receive Christ. For folks standing before Jesus at this time, in these verses right here, for some of them it’s the last opportunity that they will have to receive him.
So the context then is a final opportunity to receive Christ and what to say to people who are not far from the kingdom of God. What do you say to someone who gets it right that the greatest commandment is to love Yahweh, the Lord your God, and to love your neighbor as yourself? And you have one last opportunity to give them gospel. What do you say to someone like that?
You help them with what they are confused about regarding salvation. What is it that is keeping the person you’re talking to out of the kingdom? In this case in this passage, it was the man’s Christology that was keeping him out of the kingdom. And that is what Jesus addresses. Jesus addresses, verse 35, the personal nature of the Messiah. He is the son of David, but Jesus will go on to teach in verse 36 and v. 37 that the Messiah is also David’s Lord. David’s son and David’s Lord.
So the Messiah has come to earth as a human, as a son of David and as David’s Lord. The Messiah is, therefore, the God-man. And getting this right is required for salvation. One cannot deny the humanity or the deity of Jesus Christ without undercutting God’s plan for saving people from their sins. Romans 10:9-10 9 that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Jesus is God in flesh and God raised him from the dead. God raised Jesus’ human body from the tomb. Believing in Jesus humanity and deity is required for salvation and so that’s why Jesus addresses these 2 things with this man.
So then, I would like to preach on this last opportunity that Jesus has to those who are not far from the kingdom of God. And the message is this: the Messiah is a descendent of David but also David’s Lord.
So we have those two major points this morning that the Messiah is a human being from the lineage of David and he is David’s Lord; he is God in flesh.
TRANS: Jesus starts his evangelistic encounter by asking a question. Mark 12:35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?
Jesus Challenges the Jewish Conception of a Merely Human Messiah (12:35)
Here, Jesus challenges the Jewish conception of a merely human Messiah. By asking this question, Jesus is challenging the pervading concept of the Messiah that the Messiah would merely be a human being and nothing more. And Jesus challenges this by asking the question how is it that the scribes can say that the Christ is the son of David?
So what we’ve got here is a little window into the popular messianic theology of the day. And what we find out when we enlarge this window a little bit is that the common is that the Jews believed that the Messiah would merely be a human being.
The Jewish Conception
Clearly, as it’s written here in v.34, the scribes taught that the Messiah is David’s son. In other words, the Messiah would be in the lineage of David. The Messiah could trace his ancestry all the way back to David himself.
But as far as the nature of the Messiah, the scribes stopped there. He’s just a human, the scribes taught. The scribes taught that he would merely be a human being, a descendent of David. And what Jesus is going to do here is challenge, not that the Messiah is a descendent of David, but that the Messiah is merely a descendent of David.
Messiah is a Descendant of David
And of course, the scribes got this one right. There are numerous prophecies in the Old Testament that describe the Messiah as a descendent of David. The prophets all spoke of a “righteous branch” who would come to reconcile the nation back to God.
This Messiah would reestablish Israel in the land after having cleared the land of any foreign oppressors. And of course as you are aware when Jesus is speaking, the land of Israel is dominated by a foreign oppressor, the Romans. So the Jews were looking for a descendent of David who would come to release them from the Romans. And they were anticipating this one to come and when he comes he would cause people from all over the Earth to flock to Jerusalem where everyone would behold the glory of the LORD. You can read about this in Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 37 and Zechariah 3 and Haggai chapter 2.
So they were well aware of the purpose of this “branch of David” who would come to rescue the nation of Israel. And this Messiah would inaugurate the kingdom upon this earth when he came the first time and he would continue forever when he came, that first time. They expected a Jewish kingdom on Earth when the Messiah came the first time. You can read more about that in Psalm 89, Jeremiah chapters 13 and 33. Although, of course, the eternal nature of the Messiah rule all has reference to the Messiah’s second coming.
So when Jesus arrives on the scene, he is not releasing the nation of Israel from their foreign oppressors! Jesus is no great military leader who has political authority.
…But he is well known to be a biological descendent of David. And of course that, too, was required to make any claim of being the Messiah as many passages in the Old Testament indicated, like 2 Sam. 7:12 Ps. 132:11-12; Isa. 9 and Isa. 11 and Amos 9:11.
…And Jesus Davidic ancestry was never challenged. The genealogies of the Jews were meticulously kept and recorded in the Temple. You have many instances throughout the Old Testament of careful records of genealogies. And of course Matthew chapter 1 is an example of Jesus genealogy, where Matthew records that Jesus genealogy does indeed go back to David….
…But they expected more than just Davidic ancestry as proof. There were many descendants of David at that time. For them, the Messiah had to be the most powerful man the world had ever seen and a savior of the nation as a whole, not individuals. But Jesus keeps saying things like “whoever believes in me will have eternal life” … this is too individualistic for them; they fully expected a national salvation.
Moreover, they did not expect the Messiah to come and claim to be God like Jesus did, when he would say things like “before Abraham was born, I am.” That’s blasphemy to a Jew. So Jesus is challenging the Jewish conception of the Messiah during that time. And He does that verbally and directly now, in v.35.
What Jesus says in verse 35 is how can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? In other words, Jesus is asking, “how can the scribes just leave it there… how can the scribes say that the Christ is merely a descendent of David?”
So Jesus is saying in verse 35 that the scribes’ understanding is incomplete. How can the scribes teach that the Messiah is a human descendent of David if, as v.36 there teaches, if the Messiah is also David’s Lord?
TRANS: How can the scribes teach human descent when, verse 36, David himself says…. I mean, who are these scribes in comparison to the ancestor David himself?
Jesus Explains the Deity of the Messiah (12:36-37)
And the ancestor David tells us the nature of this individual, the Messiah.
And humanly speaking, it doesn’t get any more authoritative then David! He is the king that every other king after him was compared to. David himself can say this, v. 36. David who is himself an all-authoritative King, says this “in” or “by the Holy Spirit.”
David is speaking underneath the inspiration of the Holy Spirit… and he is speaking prophetically and authoritatively. And now the Lord will quote Psalm 110:1. Mark 12:36 “David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘THE Lord SAID TO MY Lord, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.”‘
Brief Jewish History of Interpretation of Psalm 110
So, keep a hand here and turn back to Psalm 110. As you do, you are turning back about 1000 years. From Jesus back to David is 1000 years. That’s the difference between today and the Year 1000. And when you get to Psalm 110:1, you will be looking at the most often quoted and alluded to Old Testament passages in the New Testament. It is alluded to or quoted 33 times in the New Testament.
And at this point in history when Jesus is ministering on Earth, the Jews interpreted Psalm 110 as messianic. However they did not believe in the deity of the Messiah.
Now, after Jesus ascended back to the Father’s right hand, the unbelieving Jews had to do something with this passage because the church was interpreting it as referring to Jesus. They didn’t want Jesus to be dominating their Old Testament interpretations. So, around the year AD 100, a Rabbi by the name of Ishmael applied this Psalm to refer to Abraham. It wasn’t until the year AD 250 that the messianic interpretation again became dominant.
Others have interpreted it as referring to one of the Maccabee brothers, either Judas or Simon from the 2nd century BC. Judas Maccabeus is considered one of the greatest warriors in Jewish history. He led a successful revolt against the Seleucid Empire. The Jews place him alongside Joshua, Gideon as well as David himself. So, considering Judas Maccabee as a fulfillment of this passage is not surprising, given Psalms 110:6 He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.
That sounds very much like a militaristic warrior type of individual. And Judas fit that bill. Others think that it is Simon, his brother. What they did was to rearrange some of the Hebrew letters to spell the word Simon in the text. That’s convenient.
Still others…and I saw this Jewish interpretation by a present day Rabbi on the web yesterday…others think that this is actually a Psalm for David, not by David. Notice the subtitle where it says “a Psalm of David.” They switch that word out “of” and replace it with “for.” And they do that, so they think, based on the Hebrew text. But they misunderstand the Hebrew. This phraseology here is clearly used to refer to the psalm being by David as this same phrase in other psalms clearly indicates. For example, Psalm 3:1 A Psalm of David … that’s the same phrase…A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.
So this is clearly a Psalm by David, or David didn’t write any of the psalms. They were all just for him! But that just goes to show that the Jews of today and Jews just after the time of Jesus were doing anything that they possibly could to remove Jesus from this Psalm.
But originally, from the time of David until 586 BC, the psalm was used in coronation ceremonies. They used it in ceremonies to crown an Israelite king. And in Psalm 110:1 the “my Lord” there referred to the human king of Israel and “The LORD” of course referred to God. So in that time after David until 586 BC, it was interpreted to mean that God was speaking to the human king of Israel, saying “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” That is supposedly giving success to the Israelite king against Israel’s enemies.
But in 586 BC, the Temple as well as the Davidic kingdom itself were destroyed by the Jew’s enemies, the Babylonians. Now what do they do with their interpretation? And so they didn’t have an earthly king on the throne. They had to rethink the psalm in light of their circumstances. Clearly, these enemies that were supposed to be a footstool for the feet of the human king of Israel, have now risen up to defeat Israel herself.
So what could the “my Lord” be referring to if it does not refer to an earthly king? And so the psalm began at that time to take on the messianic interpretations, because they were looking for a Messiah to come to free them from the hands of the Babylonians.
TRANS: And it’s the messianic interpretation that is in the minds of Jesus’ listeners that day. They wanted Messiah to come and deliver them from the Romans! They Jews believe this psalm is messianic but they haven’t come to fully understand the implications of the psalm as relates to the personal nature of the Messiah himself.
The Messiah is God in His Person (“My Lord”)
And Jesus’ point in quoting Psalm 110:1 is to draw out one major point to prove that the Messiah is God.
Jesus’ main argument to demonstrate that the Messiah is not just an earthly human ruler, but also that he is God, is found in that first phrase of verse one of Psalm 110 “the LORD said to my Lord.”
What Jesus is arguing is that “my Lord” refers to the deity of the Messiah, that the Messiah is God. Messiah is the Lord. And the two words translated “Lord” in our Bibles look differently from one another. The first “LORD” is in all caps and this is the word “Yahweh,” God’s memorial name.
The second “Lord” …“my Lord”… is the word Adonai. “My Lord”… “My Adonai.” And this word can refer to a human master, but it is often used to refer to God as well. And the context here clearly bears out that the Adonai here is God.
And one way that we know that is because of who it is who is speaking. Just like Jesus says, David himself says this. David, the King of Israel, is saying this. What does he say?
David is in on a conversation, as it were, and he’s listening in. And he’s hearing this conversation between Yahweh and David’s Adonai. And Yahweh speaks to David’s Adonai and he says “sit at my right hand.” Now the fact that David himself has an Adonai is what is astounding. Adonai is translated “Lord” or “master.” David is the King of Israel; no one is more authoritative than he is. Who is this One then that David can call his master? What kind of person would it take to be the master of the highest person in the land? It would take God to be the master of an all-powerful king.
Now, flip back to Mark 12:36. And when you get there, you will notice that Jesus says that phrase “David himself says” two times in the passage. He says that both of the beginning in verse 36 and the beginning in verse 37.
And Jesus’ point when he says “David himself says” is to argue that David is the King of Israel and this all-powerful king is saying that he has a Lord; David has a master, an Adonai. “David himself, the king of Israel, is saying that he himself has a master.”
So, in v.37, when Jesus asks then, “in what sense is the Messiah the son of David” he is asking that question based on the fact that David calls the Messiah “Lord.” “How can an all-powerful King of Israel, David, call another person Lord while at the same time that person be David’s son?” How can it be that the son of David can also be David’s Lord?
ILL: That’s like my son Hudson’s question to my wife yesterday. They were looking at a nativity scene in the book. And Hudson asks, “If Jesus is a baby, how did he make the Wiseman?” Hudson is a little confused on the nature of Jesus. Hudson needs his Christology fixed.
Similarly here how can it be that the son of David can also be David’s Lord? That’s the question of Jesus in verse 37 and the answer is the same. The Messiah is also God!
And of course the answer to that question is standing right in front of them. The Messiah is David’s Lord because the Messiah is God in flesh, come from heaven. And Jesus is the son of David because He is a biological descendent of David. So the answer to the Lord’s question “in what sense is the Messiah David’s son?”… The answer to that question is only biologically.
The Lord’s question stumps you a little bit because you have to go on to think about something else other than the answer…. “In what sense is the Messiah David’s son?” … Well, biologically, of course…. But wait a second, now you are forced to ask yourself another question knowing the facts that Jesus just gave… I know in what sense the Messiah is David’s son, biologically, but how is the Messiah also David’s Lord? Fathers don’t call their sons “Lord.” A father shows no reverence like that for his descendents. But in this case, it works that way. Why? How can David call his own son Lord? Because the Messiah is God in flesh.
TRANS: So Jesus’ entire argument hinges on that one point of David himself, though he is an all-authoritative earthly King of Israel, even though that’s the case, David has a Lord. And it was Yahweh who spoke to this Lord back then even! Again, David is listening in on a conversation as it were, back then. For Yahweh to say this to David’s Adonai requires the pre-existence of David’s Adonai. David’s Adonai must be God.
But we also know that the Messiah is God in this passage of Scripture because in his position he sits at the right hand of God.
The Messiah is God in His Position (“Sit at My Right Hand”)
David’s Adonai, his Lord, is at the right hand of God. Sitting at the right hand of the king implies that along with the King you have the highest possible authority and honor without going so far as to usurp the throne. The Messiah has the highest blessing and the highest participation in power and righteousness. This Messiah is Lord over all and he rules over everything and in the end Paul says every knee will bow to him and every tongue will confess that he is the Lord.
So the Messiah is God in his position. He sits at the right hand of God. And at the right hand of God, Romans 8:34 teaches that the Messiah is interceding on our behalf. The Lord Jesus is praying for you to the Father.
And it says that he sits there because after Jesus finished his work as the most high priest, having offered himself up as a sacrifice for sins, Hebrews 10 teaches that Christ sat down at the right hand of God. Even though all of those priests stood daily ministering in the Temple, Jesus having once for all made a sacrifice for sin for all time, after he did that, he sat down. Those priests are never done ministering the sacrifices that could never take away sins. But Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father having made a perfect sacrifice for sin.
TRANS: And the Messiah continues to sit at the Father’s right hand today. And he will sit there and he will wait. And he is waiting for something. What is he waiting for? The last line of Mark 12:36… The Messiah is waiting until that day when Yahweh puts the Messiah’s enemies underneath his feet.
The Messiah is God in His Conquest (“Until I Put Your Enemies Beneath Your Feet”)
So the Messiah is waiting to see his enemies defeated. That happens when the Messiah comes again. When the Messiah returns, when he returns in glory at the end of the tribulation period, wicked spirits will gather the kings of the world to do battle against God. And they will gather to the place called Har-Magedon, or the mountain of Megiddo in Israel.
And the Lord will destroy his enemies there and the wait for all the Messiah’s enemies to be beneath his feet will be over.
So after receiving from the religious leaders a day full of questions, Jesus asks the question of the day “In what sense is the Messiah David’s Son” in the light of the fact that the Messiah is David’s Lord?
And because David himself says…. David the all-powerful king, says that he himself has a Lord and that Yahweh spoke to his Lord,. …because David calls the Messiah Lord proves that the Messiah must be more than a mere descendant of David; He must also be David’s Lord, David’s God. And David is aware of this even back then, so the Messiah must have existed before His coming to earth.
Well, in verse 37 says that the crowd enjoyed listening to Jesus. Aren’t we all glad for that. You know, Jesus was not one to get a kick out of people enjoying listening to him. That’s not what Jesus was all about.
Here is the God of the universe in human flesh explaining and expositing an Old Testament passage of Scripture and it says that the people enjoyed listening to him? Are you really sure you know who this is? Do you understand what he is getting at? He is claiming to be David’s Lord. Will you merely enjoy listening to him just like you merely believe that the Messiah is David’s son? Or will you properly respond to the person of Jesus the Messiah and fall down on your face and repent in dust and ashes?
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 12.35-37
And like we’ve said, this is the last opportunity that these people have to be confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ. Jesus claims to be the Messiah, the son of David, and David’s Lord. And this is these folks’ last opportunity to receive this truth. Perhaps there are some in here and this is your last opportunity. What will you do with the claims of Jesus the Messiah?
And let me as well apply this to most of us in here who are believers. Many of you know my testimony of salvation when the Lord saved me on the campus of Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina. The Lord used a man who was at that time the assistant Dean of men. Today, he is the Dean of men. His name is John Daulton.
As you can imagine, I greatly appreciate his ministry to me. We didn’t have a lot of contact on campus when I was there attending school, but one day he spoke in chapel. He recounted a story that happened to him that week. He was shopping for furniture at the furniture store. Mr. Daulton was so impressed in his heart to give this man who was selling him the furniture a gospel tract. He recounted how deep it was impressed on his heart.
But even though Mr. Daulton had the gospel tract with him, he did not give it to him. And he and his family loaded up the purchased pieces of furniture and went home. Within a few days, Mr. Daulton received word that someone attempted to rob his store and in the process shot and killed this man. And in tears, Mr. Daulton in chapel before 5,000 people is recounting a forever-lost opportunity to witness for Christ.
And I relate that story to you to attempt to give us the urgency of the need of being a witness for Christ. On Tuesday evening at our place, the trustees and I will be meeting. And on the docket is the need for outreach. And trustees and I will schedule a time when each trustee and I will go out together and attempt to be a witness for Christ.
I am requiring the trustees to take an hour a month to go out with me to be a witness for Christ. And I will train them on how to do this. And if you would like this training you’re more than welcome to approach me about that. And I will be making further comments about that down the road.
When you deal with somebody about their need of Christ, you will want to follow Christ’s example here by helping them to see their greatest need, the need of salvation.
In light of being a verbal testimony for Christ, let’s turn to 698. We’ve song this number before, go ye into all the world.
“In Athabasca there is darkness dwelling, thousands of souls forever may be lost”