Title: Follow the [Right] Leader Part 3
Text: Matthew 22:41-46
FCF: We often struggle placing our hope in something less than Jesus and His Righteousness
Prop: Because Jesus is the God-Man and our only hope, we must follow Jesus.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 22. Today we will finish up the fifth narrative in the book of Matthew with part three of a sermon regarding the very nature of Jesus. It is fitting for us to review generally what we have seen thus far in this narrative.
[Slide 2] First, the overall point Matthew is driving home, is that the Israelites have had the word of God for thousands of years but they misunderstood, misapplied and ultimately disobeyed it. The counter point to that, is that Jesus is not only the final interpretive authority of the Word of God, but also is its perfect keeper.
[Slide 3] This narrative began all the way back in chapter 19 if you can believe it. September of last year is when we first started this narrative. From the very beginning we have seen this theme.
The Pharisees test him with a question about divorce, which Jesus answers making them look like fools for thinking the way they did about divorce.
Then Matthew dives into a sub theme about need. At the core of the Jew’s misunderstanding and misapplication of scripture was their assumption that they knew everything they needed to know. And Matthew shows that it is humility that becomes a key attribute of those who are kingdom citizens. Humility in recognizing their absolute need of Christ. This theme carries on in various ways through chapter 20.
[Slide 4] Then we enter chapter 21 and Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey in a fake parade, pretending to be what everyone assumed the Son of David was. Afterward you have Jesus in conflict with the leaders of the temple where he refuses to rebuke the children for offering praise to him and calling Him the Son of David.
Then another subtheme of Matthew emerges as Matthew begins his expose of Israel’s disobedience to God’s word. And in various ways we see Matthew apply this truth, that God’s people are people who follow His commands because He owns them.
[Slide 5] Finally we have come to the final three episodes all of which communicate the same truth in various ways. And that truth is simply – natural man does not understand God or the scripture nor do they want to, but Jesus is no mere man and ultimately has the understanding beyond a mere man. And the application has been, thus far, to cling to Jesus. He is always the answer.
Today, as we complete this expertly written and divinely inspired narrative, we’ll see the same point again from Matthew as we prepare to enter what is the climax of Matthew’s book in chapter 23.
[Slide 6] So let us read one final time from Matthew chapter 22 starting in verse 41. I am reading yet again from the NET but follow along in the version you have in front of you. And once again, if you don’t have a bible, don’t leave without one.
The pinnacle of all Jesus and Matthew has been teaching is here in this text. Let’s see if we can find it.
I.) Natural man does not understand the scripture or God, nor do they want to, so we must follow Jesus. (41-42, 46)
a. [Slide 7] 41 – While the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them a question:
i. So up to this point we have seen three back to back episodes where the religious leaders in various forms have attempted to trick Jesus.
ii. The last two attempts specifically have been with unanswerable questions, or at least what they perceived to be unanswerable questions.
iii. Although Matthew is not a stickler for chronology, it seems that this episode follows immediately after what just transpired.
iv. That while the Pharisees remain gathered and, apparently, silent, Jesus has a question for them.
v. And apparently it also, is an unanswerable question.
b. [Slide 8] 42 – “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”
i. This is the set up. But let me explain where Jesus is going here.
ii. The Jewish perception of the messiah, as we have been studying in Matthew, is not as complete as we might expect.
iii. Of course this contributes to Matthew’s point here in the narrative that although having the scripture for centuries, they misunderstood, misapplied, and ultimately disobeyed it.
iv. One specific form of misunderstanding and misapplication is that they had an incomplete view of the Messiah.
v. They perceived the Messiah of God to be like all other messiah’s of God. God has had many anointed or appointed leaders to accomplish specific tasks for the nation of Israel.
1. The judges of Israel in general during the pre-King period.
2. Saul was anointed specifically to save God’s people from the Philistines. – I Sam 9:16
3. David was anointed to be God’s King of Israel – I Sam 16:1
4. Cyrus the Great of Persia was anointed by God specifically to pacify other nations and fulfill God’s will – Isaiah 45:1
vi. Just because someone is a messiah of God doesn’t mean they are righteous or powerful. It simply means that God has selected and equipped them for a specific task.
vii. What was so special about THE Messiah? The Messiah of God throughout the Old Testament is said to accomplish a great number of things. Suffering, dying, not being bound by the grave, freeing Israel of their sins, setting up a new covenant, bringing a new kingdom, bringing blessing and judgment, and reigning forever as King.
viii. But it was this last one, this David-like Messiah that would come and be a great military leader and free them from bondage. It was that “Son of David” that they were looking for from the Messiah. And the other tasks, the other roles The Messiah of God had, they would have assigned to other Messiah’s or servants of God.
ix. But here is the thing. You can’t go to a book, chapter and verse to find all the different things that THE Messiah was to do and be. And even in these cotnexts of The Messiah dying, it doesn’t say “And the messiah of God will come to die for the sins of Israel and the world.” I mean it comes close, but it is never that plain. So as high and mighty as we may be tempted to be at Israel’s lack of genuine understanding at the true nature of the Messiah, we should be cautious to think that we’d be any different.
x. So knowing what the Jews assumed, this question appeared to be relatively simple from Jesus. Why? Because scripture was very clear on the subject that THE Messiah of God would be the descendant of David. So they answered…
c. [Slide 9] They said, “The son of David."
i. They are absolutely correct, that the Messiah will be a descendant of David. But here is the problem with their answer… And it isn’t incredibly difficult to uncover.
ii. Where does it say that The Messiah of God will be JUST a man?
iii. Certainly it says He would be a man. But Is there anywhere that would support an idea that He would be more than just a man?
iv. Even taking only the concept of his being a great military leader that lives forever… that seems a little bit… Supernatural right?
v. And this is where things got a little muddy. The Israelites were looking for a King, a Prophet, and Priest as three distinct and separate agents.
vi. What they did not anticipate is that Yahweh would come to save them as a God-Man, and occupy simultaneously the roles of Prophet, Priest and King. And today it is still something the Jews cannot accept.
d. [Slide 10 (blank)]Up to this point Jesus and Matthew have challenged the idea that natural man is able to seek God and understand Him. In fact, not only are they not able, but also, they are not willing. Having established that point firmly, now Jesus turns to the Pharisees and investigates their theology. He asks them… ok guys… you’ve been proven wrong several times. It is obvious that you do not understand the scriptures, nor are you willing to understand. And this is true of all natural men. So whose son is the Messiah?
e. Answer: Another natural man? Really?
Instead of a natural man being the Messiah… perhaps there is something more than human about this Messiah God has promised. Perhaps, from a text that they all recognized as Divinely inspired words of David, Jesus could prove that the Messiah was more than a mere man. After all, how did David view his future descendant?
II.) Jesus possesses understanding of the scripture and God beyond a mere human, so we must follow Jesus. 43-45)
a. [Slide 11] 43 – He said to them, “How then does David by the Spirit call him ‘Lord,’ saying,
i. Ok so follow the logic train here.
ii. You say that the Messiah is a mere man, a physical descendant of David, and that is all.
iii. Now, looking at the Old Testament, in the words of David Himself, as he was inspired by the Spirit of God to write it, he calls the Messiah his Lord.
iv. But what does that mean, and where specifically is he referencing?
b. [Slide 12] 44 – ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
i. This is a direct quote from Psalm 110.
ii. Now here is the trap that Jesus lays for the Pharisees. It is gonna totally destroy their perspective of the Messiah and of Jesus.
iii. This is a Psalm that 1st Century Pharisees unanimously agreed was written by David. There was no question in their mind that their ancestor David, prophetically spoke in song through the inspiration of the Spirit. And most, not all, but most 1st Century Rabbis considered Psalm 110 to be Messianic. So let’s turn there and read this Psalm.
iv. [Slide 13-17] Mention form the NASB
v. [Slide 18] So Jesus asks why David calls his own descendant his lord?
vi. And here is the problem that they are facing. There are two different words used in the Psalm. Yahweh says to Adon “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”
vii. So Yahweh you probably recognize as the proper name of God. I AM.
viii. Adon may not be as familiar unless you add “ai” at the end. Adonai which I am sure you’ve heard before.
ix. Now Adon can be used to describe someone who is in charge. In fact, many times in the Old Testament someone is called adon to indicate that they are a human authority.
x. But many times Adon is used in connection with the proper name of God to refer to God himself. In fact, this was the word used in place of God’s proper name by devout Jews to prevent them from taking the Lord’s name in vain.
xi. So really either way you look at this Psalm there is a problem for the Pharisees.
xii. A problem that Jesus is quick to point out…
c. [Slide 19] 45 – If David then calls him ‘Lord’ how can he be his son?”
i. It would be inappropriate to call a future descendant your master. Your authority. Even in our context that doesn’t make sense.
ii. How can someone be my master, lord or king, who
1. I am an elder to – Shouldn’t they be calling me lord?
2. And who I will never meet since I will be long dead?
iii. But the other option of viewing the word Adon is much more challenging.
iv. Because if they saw it the other way, that Yahweh is saying something to Himself and that self He is saying it to will be the Messiah, that means that the Messiah will be not just a physical descendant of David, Not just a Son of David… But also the Son of God.
v. Indeed in Psalm 2, God calls the Messiah, His Son.
vi. So Jesus challenges their concept of a purely human Messiah with this idea that the Messiah will also be God Himself.
vii. [Slide 20] In fact, if you read Psalm 110 carefully, where does the messiah sit in reference to God in verse 1? I have replaced the text here to reflect when the proper name of God is being used. The messiah sits at the right hand of God. This is a place high honor and one that no human King could ever hope to hold.
viii. [Slide 21] But notice in Verse 5 that now Yahweh is at the Messiah’s right hand. Now there is some textual difficulties here, but I won’t get into that right now. But what I am giving you is my conclusion. If you’d like to see my work on this, I’d love to talk to you about it. But like the NASB has rendered it, it seems that Yahweh has changed places with The Messiah and is now at His right hand. If that is true, can I suggest to you that any interpretation that puts a mere human as this Messiah, is blasphemy. To suggest that any mere man could sit above Yahweh Himself, is total blasphemy of the highest degree and greatest order. Unless… they are one.
ix. And what did Jesus claim? I and the Father are… what? One.
x. What would they think of such teaching? We don’t have to wonder.
d. [Slide 22] 46 – No one was able to answer him a word, and from that day on no one dared to question him any longer.
i. He had silenced everyone with this teaching.
ii. Not necessarily because it was something they got wrong… but simply something they had never heard before.
iii. Never had anyone taught, fathomed, or considered the possibility that God Himself would come in flesh as a human to deliver Israel.
iv. Let alone that he would deliver them from sin first and not their national enemies.
e. [Slide 23 (blank)(end)] All this proves the point again, that Jesus possesses understanding and knowledge of God and the scriptures beyond that of a natural man. And how does He prove that? Because He has intimate understanding and knowledge about the promised Messiah of God that they had never come close to fathoming. Teaching they had never considered. Teaching they had never dreamed. Jesus proves Himself to be more than a man as He proves that the Messiah would be more than a man.
f. The argument, set up perfectly by Jesus and Matthew, leads to one unmistakable conclusion. The Messiah had to be God Himself.
g. The very people Jesus is speaking to know that He has not refused being called the Son of David. Nor has He refused being called the Son of Man.
h. So to now question their understanding of the Messiah being simply another human, is to indirectly affect their low estimation of Him. And to suggest that the Messiah they should be expecting will be God Himself…
i. Leads to a very uncomfortable conclusion for them. You see while they are fighting against Him they may comfort themselves in the thought that they are fighting against one of God’s human agents. A prophet maybe. And perhaps that is not a great place to be in, but, after all, Jews have done this for their whole history.
j. But if in fact THE Messiah of God is different than every other messiah in that this Messiah is God Himself – it means that if Jesus is Him, they are not simply fighting against God’s human agent on earth, but against YAHWEH HIMSELF.
k. And although earlier we mentioned that it is understandable why they might be confused on all the details of The Messiah, they are still responsible for what is currently being revealed to them. They are responsible to submit to sound teaching of the Word of God.
And this is exactly the place that Jesus wishes to bring the Pharisees and the crowd to, this is exactly the place that Matthew wants to bring his readers to, and this is exactly the place that we as 21st Century American Christians need to come to.
What is Jesus to you?
My friend do you know who you fight against?
He is no mere man. He did not die as an example, He did not die as a martyr, He did not die as a prophet, or a teacher, or a Rabbi, or King.
He died on that cross a two natured being. All God and All Man
Being all God so that He could live perfectly and conquer death thus attaining the eternal reward of keeping the Law of God, but being all man so that he could satisfy in His flesh the eternal wrath of God on all mankind as He bore our sin.
The Messiah had to be God. Because no natural man could do what He did for us.
As the final application of this section, I feel it is appropriate to conclude with a specific application for us today. One that will prepare our hearts for what we’ll start to hear in the climactic chapter of the book of Matthew next week.
And it is simply this. If natural man cannot and would not understand the scripture and know God – But Jesus knows God because He is God. He follow Scripture because He wrote it. If Jesus is more than a mere man. If Jesus offers to those who will repent and believe, union with Him. What does that mean?
It means that you and I can know God and understand the scriptures too. Because we are united with Him.
And I know that sounds… REALLY basic. But take a minute and think about that. Think about all you have come to know about God. His love, His holiness, His character. Think about the amazing promises He has given you in scripture. Promises surrounded by His character and unbreakable will.
All of what you know would not be possible without your union with Christ. The God-Man, The Messiah of God, the beginning of the New Covenant. The Spirit as His Gift – all that makes it possible for us to KNOW God. To LOVE God. To become God’s CHILDREN.
Jesus, for the last time has humbled the Pharisees. For the last time He has proven that they are not as wise, as righteous, and as holy as they think they are.
And as we zoom out from this text and view the narrative as a whole, we come to a POWERFUL application for us.
If we would understand who we are without Christ and contrast that with what we become when we are united with Christ, we would find a person wholly changed. And that will drive us to desperate dependence and needy humility of Him.
All our knowledge, all our understanding, all our insight… would be nothing without Him.
The closeness we feel, the change in our hearts, would not be without Him.
What is a Child of God? It is exactly that. A child. A humble, needy, child. The difference of course, is that every day a child takes for granted that they are provided for and cared for, often selflessly by their parents.
But we, being made children by the life-giving power of the Spirit of God, now ought to live in this humility and need knowing that we are desperately dependent on Him for all things. And that none of us are above another. So that drives us to go and serve others knowing that we are all equally needy and blessed.
I am convinced that if we would simply remember what we are naturally and what Christ has made us to be if we are united with Him… we could never be anything but humble and we could never be anything but desperate for Him.
So as we prepare to listen to Jesus deliever a very powerful discourse next week – we must enter that teaching knowing that all of life, all things flow from Him. We are in constant and desperate need of all He is.
So may we live today and every day knowing that He is our source for all things. Because He is God and He is Man and He is our Freedom.