Matthew Bible Study Lesson 81

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Jesus, Jehovah and Messiah

Matthew 22:34—46

About one week before Jesus would be put to death He would spend His days in the Temple and at night would return to Bethany. The third day before Passover was probably the last day that Jesus spent in the temple and it was His most intense day of challenging the religious leaders of Israel. They first confront Jesus, asking by whose authority He came preaching, teaching and healing. The answer to this question is obvious since from John’s baptism the Father declared Jesus to be His Son (Matthew 3:17). Instead of answering directly, Jesus leads them to an answer by asking questions and telling parables. The Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees respond by asking Jesus questions designed to trip Him up and deflate His status with the people but each of His answers amazes the people because they are finally seeing someone who is intimately knowledgeable with Scripture, just the opposite of the religious leaders.

The Lawyers respond (verses 34—40)

While the Pharisees huddled to talk over what their next move will be the Scribes approached Jesus. Scribes were experts in the Law and today they are known as lawyers. Their test question concerned the Mosaic Law. They wanted Jesus to tell them what He thought was the greatest of all the commandments. If they could get Him to say one law was greater than the others they would accuse Him of not thinking the other commandments were important.

Instead of picking out a particular commandment, Jesus grouped the commandments into two categories. The first and most important group of commandments focuses on man’s relationship with God while the second most important group concerns man’s relationship with man. Jesus told them that the greatest is to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul. If they truly did this there would be no need for the second set of commandments because when our relationship with God is right then everything else falls into place. This is why Paul urges us to present ourselves as a living sacrifices and then teaches us how we should get along with each other (Romans 12). This is why Paul writes the first part of his letters about doctrine and the last part in application of Christian principles (Romans 15:14). Galatians 5:17 informs us that the flesh and the Spirit are complete opposites with each other which affects our relationship with each other (Galatians 5:13—15; 19—26).

Jesus asks them a question (verses 41—46)

Jesus has skillfully answered all of their questions—all designed to test Him. Jesus now turns the tables on them and asked them a question. Remember, these religious leaders of Israel were looking for a way to silence Jesus by making Him look bad in front of the multitude as they gathered daily in the temple area. They saw Jesus as a threat of their power over the people. They also desired the people’s approval, something they were not able to achieve while Jesus confronted them each day (John 11:48; 12:42—43).

Although the leaders were confronting Jesus with trick questions designed to test Him, Jesus responded in such a way to lead them to Him as their Messiah. He wasn’t out to deceive them about who He was or about His reason for coming but truly desired that they come to Him as a lost sheep would come to a shepherd or chicks to a mother hen (Luke 13:34—35).

Jesus asks them a question about the Messiah: “Whose son is he?” This was a straightforward question easily answered by the religious leaders because they knew that’s what Scripture said (2 Samuel 7:12—16; Psalm 89:3—4; 132:11; Isaiah 9:6—7; 11:1). This is the confession of two blind men (Matthew 9:27), of the crowds that were following Jesus (Matthew 12:23), of the Gentile Canaanite woman (Mathew15:22), of two other blind men in Jericho (Matthew 20:30—31) and by the crowds surrounding Jesus as He rode the donkey into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9, 15). The religious leaders knew that most the people were willing to acknowledge that Jesus could be the Son of David that the Old Testament speaks of and therefore admit that Jesus was their Messiah.

The spiritual leaders knew that the Messiah (Anointed One) would come from the seed of David and that Jesus was born in the line of David but they were unwilling to see Him as their Messiah. The next question Jesus asks them is designed to show them that they should be not only be looking for a man born in the line of David (a human) but also one who is the Son of God (Deity). They had a habit of killing anyone who was sent from God so there was little chance that they would accept what Jesus tells them (Matthew 23:31—37; Luke 11:47—50; Acts 7:52).

Jesus’ next question is designed to point to Messiah’s deity. “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”’? To understand this quote from David in Psalm 110:1 we need to understand the difference between Lord and Lord. When the term Lord is made with all capital letters then the Hebrew behind the word is a tetragrammaton (Greek for four letters) made up of the four constantans YHWH. This convention was used because the name used for God was considered too holy to say. Over the years the actual pronunciation was lost but today we pronounce it Yahweh or more commonly, Jehovah. The Hebrew word for Lord (first letter only capitalized) is Adonai and means master. It can refer to God or man.

David’s writing in Psalm 10:1 then could be written this way: Jehovah says to my Master, sit at my right hand… This verse clearly makes Jehovah the Father and since we know the Son sits at His right hand that Adonai must refer to Jesus Christ. Jesus puts this fact right in front of their noses during His trial when He tells them that He is the Christ by saying He will be sitting at the right hand of God and coming back in power (Matthew 26:63—66; Mark 14:61—64).

The Jewish leaders were perplexed because if their Messiah was to come from the seed of David then how could He also be called David’s Master (or his Lord). The solution was to see the Messiah as being both God and man. This is exactly how Peter viewed Jesus. He obviously saw Jesus as human but also as God when he confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

From Psalm 110:1 we know that God the Father is Lord (Jehovah) but there are a number of verses that indicate that the Son is Jehovah. For instance, Genesis 2:4 says it is Jehovah God that made the earth and heaven but from Colossians 1:16 and John 1:1—3 it’s apparent that Christ created all things. Psalm 23:1 says the Lord is my Shepherd… while John 10:11, 14 and Hebrews 13:20 make it clear that this Shepherd is Christ. Isaiah 40:3 is a verse that speaks of Christ coming to earth while Jeremiah 23:1—6 call both God the Father (verse 5) and Christ (verse 6) Jehovah. Joel 2:32 says that whomever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved which is repeated in Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 but is applied to Jesus Christ.

Some additional examples of Christ called Jehovah:

The Lord is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 10:20; Acts 3:13—14)

The Lord as King of Israel (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:8; 22:13)

The Lord as the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11; Titus 2:11—13)

The Lord speaking: look on me whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37)

What this indicates is that both the Father and the Son are working so closely that their functions merge into one. What one wants is what the other wants. There is never any dispute between members of the Godhead.

With this, the leaders were silenced. They were as the man who was caught in the wedding feast without proper garments (Matthew 22:11—13) and their fate will be the same as this man. This is why Jesus chose Psalm 110:1 to ask His question. The enemies in this verse are the religious leaders of Israel who are doing everything possible to get rid of Jesus.