Thursday

“David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” (v. 37)

Mark 12:35-37 Thursday 17 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 63:1-8


Background

The question of how Jesus could be fully God and, at the sametime, fully human has caused countless theologians countlesssleepless nights. Charles Wesley penned the famous line: "Our God contracted to a span / incomprehensiblymade man" (Singing the Faith 208). At times, it can be temptingto simplify matters by gravitating towards one aspect of theincarnation (God becoming flesh) and ignoring the other.

Mark's Gospel, it can be argued, tends to focus on Jesus'divinity, rather than his humanity. In contrast, Matthew's Gospelis rooted in Jesus' family tree, numbering the generations betweenJesus and King David (Joseph's ancestor) in Matthew 1:1-17. Mark, on the other hand, nevermentions Joseph, and (prior to today's passage) links Jesus toDavid only twice - when Bartimaeus cried out "Jesus, Son of David,have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47) and when the crowds who welcomedJesus to Jerusalem shouted "Blessed is the coming kingdom of ourancestor David!" (Mark 11:10). Both instances tell us somethingabout the expectations that surrounded the promised Messiah, butnot the way in which Jesus chose to identify himself.

In this passage, Mark's Gospel appears to be affirming Jesus'divinity - Jesus responds to conversations among the scribes bysaying that as David calls the Messiah 'Lord' in Psalm110:1, Jesus cannot be merely his descendent. Matthew, on theother hand, celebrates Jesus' genealogy and sees in him thefulfilment of numerous Old Testament prophecies (eg 2Samuel 7:12-14; Isaiah11:1-10; Jeremiah 23:5). Perhaps the question "Davidhimself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?" (see also Matthew 22:45) is not intended to shut downdebate, but an invitation to explore how Jesus, the Messiah, can beboth fully God and fully human, Son of God and son of David.

Jesus repeatedly confronted the expectations that surrounded thepromised Messiah and particularly the sense that, as a descendentof King David, he too would restore Israel's fortunes and liberatethe people from foreign rule through rebellion and war. Perhaps itis helpful to recall that David, when anointed as a future king,was an unknown shepherd boy, the youngest and smallest of hisbrothers.


To Ponder

  • How do you picture Jesus? Are you more comfortable thinking ofJesus as 'fully God' or 'fully human'? Why?
  • Books like 'Did Jesus wear blue jeans?' address children'squestions about Jesus' humanity. What details do you wish theGospel writers had given us about the 'fully human' Jesus?
  • To what extent do you think the Gospels are presenting theirreaders with a set of answers - and to what extent are they stillwrestling with the big questions themselves?


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