Read Luke 20.
As we continue to read Luke’s account of the final week of Christ’s life, we read in today’s chapter how Jesus’ enemies tried various ways to discredit him. First they challenged his authority (vv. 1-8). Later they considered arresting him (v. 19), but instead of arresting him, they spied on him and tried to trap him (vv. 20-26 and 27-40).
Jesus responded effectively to all of their attacks, then he told a damning parable explaining why these religious leaders would suffer God’s wrath for rejecting Jesus (vv. 9-16).
After he responded to their challenge about the resurrection, Jesus turned their minds to the scriptures, specifically Psalm 110:1 which he quoted in verses 42-43 of our passage. Jesus had two questions for them (“the teachers of the law,” v. 39) surrounding Psalm 110. The first question is, “Why do people say that Messiah would be the son of David?” The second question is, “Since David called the Messiah “Lord” in Psalm 110:1, how could the Messiah be his Son?
Until you know the answer, this seems like an unsolvable puzzle. On one hand, the Messiah must be the Son of David according to the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” For that promise to be fulfilled, the Messiah must be a descendant of David. But, on the other hand, why would David call one of his descendants Lord? Usually the chain of respect goes up from the descendants to the patriarch.
So, to state the problem again: how could Messiah be David’s descendant and yet be David’s Lord? How is that possible?
The answer is that Jesus was both human and divine. As a man, Jesus shared a legal tie to David through Joseph, his adoptive father, as we saw in Matthew 1 and a blood connection to David through Mary as we saw in Luke 3.
But because Jesus is God, he is Lord over everything as Creator. This is taught in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Jesus would “come out” to “be ruler over Israel” from “Bethlehem” but his “origins are from of old, from ancient times” — in other words, eternity. So here we have a complete picture of Jesus. He is human and therefore David’s “son” (descendant) but he is also God and, therefore, David’s Lord.
Although the world did not receive Jesus for the Lord that he is in his first coming, he will return again to complete his work and establish his kingdom. This gives us something to be happy about today; whatever difficulties we suffer today are temporary because Jesus will return and be our king.