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Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from the Gospel of Mark 12:35-37.

South dome of inner narthex at Chora Church, Istanbul, depicting the ancestors of Christ from Adam onwards.

The Question about David’s Son – Mark 12:35-37

As Jesus was teaching in the temple area he said,

“How do the scribes claim that the Messiah is the son of David?

David himself, inspired by the holy Spirit, said:

‘The Lord said to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.”’

David himself calls him ‘lord’; so how is he his son?”

[The] great crowd heard this with delight.

In today’s reading we see Jesus questioning the claim of the scribes about the Davidic descent of the Messiah, not to deny it but to imply that he is more than this. His superiority derives from his transcendent origin, to which David himself attested when he spoke of the Messiah addressing him as “Lord”.

In Luke also we come across this incident.

The Question about David’s Son – Luke 20:41–44

Then he said to them, “How do they claim that the Messiah is the Son of David?

For David himself in the Book of Psalms says:

‘The Lord said to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Now if David calls him ‘lord,’ how can he be his son?”

Mark and Luke are not specific about who are questioned.

In Matthew too we come across this incident but Matthew specifically says “Pharisees”.

  • While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus questioned them, saying, (Matthew 22:41)

The Question about David’s Son – Matthew 22:41–46

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus questioned them, saying,

“What is your opinion about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They replied, “David’s.”

He said to them, “How, then, does David, inspired by the Spirit, call him ‘lord,’ saying:

‘The Lord said to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet”’?

If David calls him ‘lord,’ how can he be his son?”

No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Their inability to respond implies that they have forfeited their position and authority as the religious leaders of the people because they do not understand the scriptures. This series of controversies between the religious leadership of Jerusalem and Jesus reveals Jesus as the authoritative teacher whose words are to be listened to.

  • Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35).

In Matthew, we read

  • The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)

where two links of the genealogical chain, “The Son of David” and “The son of Abraham” are singled out. Here we see that David who came after Abraham is placed first in order to emphasize that Jesus is the royal Messiah.

The mention of Abraham may be due not only to his being the father of the nation of Israel but also to Matthew’s interest in the universal scope of Jesus’ mission

  • when your days have been completed and you must join your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you who will be one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. (1 Chronicles 17:11)
  • “and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing, because you obeyed my command.” (Genesis 22:18)
  • The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and splendid day of the Lord, (Acts 2:20)
  • For David did not go up into heaven, but he himself said: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ (Acts 2:34-35)
  • the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, (Romans 1:3)
  • Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, (2 Timothy 2:8)
  • A psalm of David. The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand, while I make your enemies your footstool.” (Ps 110:1)

Since Matthew presents Jesus both as Messiah

  • Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

and as Son of David

  • The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)
  • And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed [him], crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” (Matthew 9:27)

the question posed by Jesus is not meant to imply his denial of Davidic sonship. It probably means that although he is the Son of David, he is someone greater, Son of Man and Son of God, and recognized as greater by David who calls him my ‘lord.’

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