Last week we looked at the name that Jesus probably called Himself most often (especially in the third person): ‘Son of Man’. This week we are going to look at a name that He was mostly called by others: ‘Son of David’. This name was loaded with meaning.
The title originates in 2 Samuel 7 where God, through the prophet Nathan, promises to David that He will establish an everlasting kingdom from David’s direct descendents. The prophecy is in most of the chapter but here are a few key points:
“……..I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish His kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever. 14 I will be to Him a father, and He shall be to me a son…… And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” (verses 12-14 & 16).
These were very exciting promises for the Jewish people as each generation waited for the promise to be fulfilled. When Jesus arrived on the scene there was intense debate over whether He really was ‘the one’.
“And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:23).
Quite a number of people addressed Him as ‘the Son of David’, especially if they were seeking healing or deliverance.
“When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 9:27).
“And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” (Matthew 15:22).
The Pharisees too understood what was happening when other people called Jesus ‘the Son of David’ but because of their pride and stubbornness they refused to acknowledge Him as such: “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant”. (Matthew 21:15).
Jesus famously exposed their ignorance about what the title ‘Son of David’ meant in Mark 12:35-37:
“And as Jesus taught in the temple, He said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
David himself calls Him Lord. So how is He his son?” And the great throng heard Him gladly.”
The question that Jesus asks in this passage takes me to my last point. The title ‘Son of David’ obviously did not refer to the next generation son of David, as we understand “son” to mean, but rather to a direct descendent of David. If you have ever wondered why the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are different, it is because the Matthew genealogy traces Jesus’ descendents through Joseph as His legal father, whereas the Luke passage traces His genealogy through His mother Mary as His blood descendent. This means Jesus qualified on both accounts!
Mary of course knew who her son was as she was specifically told by the angel Gabriel: “….And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1: 31-33).