November 29, 2020 Jesus:The Son of David
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
For our Sundays in Advent we’ll think about what it means that Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, came to visit His creation; He dwelled among us to fulfill The Promise of mercy, and to accomplish the salvation of mankind. As mentioned in the bulletin, we want to think about what it means that Jesus was ‘a son’ of a long line of special people noted in the Bible.
Our merciful God has been faithful to His Word thru many human generations. In Matthew, chpt.1, we read: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. ….Jesse was the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.” Today we take note that Jesus was the ‘son of David, the king.’
If you’re a history-buff, you may have heard of King Edward VIII of England; but NOT because he was a wise & heroic king who led the British during some great war. He was not a famous leader who took care of the needs of his subjects, or expanded, or even improved his kingdom. His reign was not the inspiration for a Shakespearean play, or for folk singers, or movie producers. King Edward VIII was actually an absolutely disappointing king;
who came to the throne in January of 1936, and abdicated his throne -that is, gave up the throne- in December of that year in order to marry a non-royal woman. History knows the names of Henry V, & Richard-the-Lionheart, & Elizabeth I and II, who are remembered thru the years for great things; but not Edward. King Edward VIII is like a brief embarrassing footnote in the British monarchy.
Matthew’s Gospel introduces Jesus by tracing the lineage of the promised Messiah through kings & patriarchs, both heroes and disappointments. Chpt.1 vs.1: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” A simple sentence, but it looks back 2,000 years of ancestry & prophecy for the long-promised Savior. Thru Abraham came the great Hebrew people; thru David came the historic kingdom of Israel; but thru Jesus has come a kingdom that will have no end. From the very beginning, God’s plan was that one of David & Abraham’s own descendants would be The One who would redeem God’s people.
*What is your genealogy ? Remember the time, not long ago, when one family member would do some searching in libraries & attics, and travel to ‘the old country,’ and try to piece together a family tree? Think of how computerized records have changed that. Now many are interested in their genealogy. And ‘ancestry.com’ & other websites advertise to find & trace your family history. Some companies will take your DNA and match it with those in their database in order to explore the various branches of your unique family tree. I wonder how many people hope that there’s someone great & heroic, or something noble or praise-worthy in their past generations. I wonder how many are a little disappointed to find a lot of regular people, or even a few questionable characters.
Still, there’s something intriguing about looking at our fore-fathers & fore-mothers.
In Jesus’ case, the real intrigue is that God was weaving His plan of salvation throughout the OT history of His chosen people, all the way down to Joseph and Mary. They were descendants of King David; altho after about 1,000 years, they were not considered royalty. That part doesn’t matter to God. What matters is that thru them, David’s Son Is David’s Lord, and He Rules on David’s Throne Forever.
Unlike King Edward VIII of England, King David is considered the great hero-king of both Judah and Israel. After those two kingdoms fell on account of their sinfulness & turning away from the faith, many waited in hope that one of David’s descendants would rise up & restore Israel to its former glory. They hoped for a warrior king who would crush their enemies and make them a nation that was honored & feared once again.
But hold on: if I read Jesus’ genealogy right, He was not just ‘a son of David’, but he was also the descendant of other kings = such as King Manasseh. And we’re told that Manasseh led Judah & all the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the pagan nation of the Amorites. So, *why did Matthew not trace the history thru king Manasseh, who -we’re told- sacrificed his own sons to false gods, and filled Jerusalem with blood? The Q answers itself. No one wants to remember King Manasseh because he was a particular failure before God. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He was a shameful excuse for a king,
& an embarrassment to any family tree.
On the other hand, *who could Matthew include in the genealogy who wasn’t a sinner & potential embarrassment? Some were heroes, some were failures; but ALL are sinners = and that reminds us that Jesus came to offer Himself to redeem ALL. Manasseh IS in the family tree, but David was a man ‘after God’s own heart’; & that points us to Jesus’ purpose. Jesus didn’t come to return Judah & Israel to their former earthly glory, but to establish an eternal kingdom that is not founded on man’s power & earth’s riches. It is founded on God’s mercy & spiritual grace. King or commoner, Jesus came to rescue us all.
David is a well-known hero and failure. The brave boy who slayed the giant Goliath still needed someone braver to rescue him. As a shepherd, David struck down a lion and a bear; but Satan was always prowling around him with temptation & danger. The king who cheated death in many battles with Israel’s strong enemies knew that he would not escape death forever. The Lord had given David every good blessing he could imagine; yet, he was not content, and so he took Uriah’s wife as his own, & made sure Uriah was no more.
So, David also did what was evil the Lord’s sight. When confronted by Nathan-the-prophet, great David had to admit his own sin, and his need for a Savior. In Psalm 51, with tears, David begs God not to banish him from the Lord’s presence, nor take the Holy Spirit from him. And true to His Word, and in light of the awesome coming sacrifice for David’s awful sins, God was merciful, and restored David by erasing his debt, and forgiving him all his sins;
all for the sake of David’s descendent who was to come.
In Matthew chpt.22, during one of the confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They answered, “The son of David.” = which was Scripturally true. And then Jesus continues by quoting Psalm 110, and asks them how David could call his own descendant his ‘Lord.’ Without the help of faith & the Holy Spirit, the Pharisees could not understand how the mighty King David believed that his own descendant would be infinitely greater than he; his own grandson -many times removed- would be the very Right Hand of the Almighty.
Peter quoted this same Psalm in his Pentecost sermon about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Peter noted that David’s descendants would indeed reign on his throne. But this One descendant & king would be markedly different from his father David = who died and is still in the grave to this day. This One Son of David -in power- raised Himself from the dead, and -in glory- ascended to the heavenly Father’s right hand of dominion & authority over all.
About 300 years after David, but still 700 years before Jesus, Isaiah wrote about the Messiah reigning on David’s throne forever. He said: “For to us a child is born, to us a son
is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of
his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his
kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time
forth and forevermore.” (Is 9:6–7).
While Jesus is the Son of David and even the Son of Manasseh, he is an altogether a unique & different kind of king. He is the only truly righteous King, whose kingdom will have no end. He is the One who comes to save the high & mighty who fail whole nations, & don’t live up to their royal honor; and He comes to save the lowly & unknowns who just fail their families, & can’t even fight off their little private weaknesses. High or low, there is no one righteous before God; not even the great King David = nor his descendants ~ like Joseph and Mary. That’s why God would send His Own Son to clothe us in the proper righteousness. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “In his days, Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ ” (Jer 23:6).
And while Jesus was altogether holy & pure, yet He was considered to have done ‘evil in the Lord’s sight,’ for He was made to be sin in our place. In His earthly kingship, His head was crowned with thorns; He had a purple robe put on him as a joke; but our dark-sins covered him. He was the Son sacrificed for the sins of his fathers Manasseh & David, for Joseph & Mary, as well as for you & me. Scripture refers to the Messiah as ‘The Lion of Judah’, but he is first ‘the Lamb’ who was slain. This King abdicates the throne for the love of a woman = that is, to win the heart of His Bride = the Church. And the way to win US forever is that David’s Lord would first take the form of a servant and become obedient unto death, even death upon a cross.
On that Friday, there was that inscription over His head: “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.” This too was intended as only scorn & sarcasm; but it was ironic.
The king of Israel, the Son of David, suffered & died for His people to win his kingdom. He died for David & Manasseh, for kings & queens, for peasants & paupers, for rich & poor, for strong & weak, for young & old, for sinners from every branch of every family tree.
According to the Scripture, YOU are also a son or a daughter of David, as David represents the family tree for all believers. Yes, like David, you have inherited the same sin & shame & condemnation. But the Son of David came to save all of David’s fallen children.
So that’s why Matthew begins his Gospel with the focus on the kingdom of God coming near to us; and by calling Jesus ‘the Son of David.’ Because Jesus ushers in the kingdom of heaven that is proclaimed in His Word, and given to us by God’s grace, and is received by faith. You are washed & christened into his kingdom thru His baptismal promise.
Of his descendant son and Lord, king David wrote in Psalm 145: “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.”
We share that thanks & praise to God with our father-David. King Jesus & His kingdom has come among us also!