Son of God, Son of David

by Lois Tverberg

Chess pieces“I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.” 1 Chronicles 17:14

We know that the people of Jesus’ day were expecting a Messiah, hoping that he would deliver them from their enemies and that he would have a great kingdom. One question that we should be curious about is is what scriptures were the source of that belief.

Although the hints about the Messiah start in Genesis, it is in David’s time that God begins to make clear statements about his intentions for the future. At one point, David wants to build a temple for God, but then Nathan the prophet tells him…

“When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.” (1 Chronicles 17:11-14)

This prophecy has been understood as having a double fulfillment. It was first fulfilled in Solomon, who built the temple, but did that which God had forbidden – he amassed a fortune and married foreign wives. His kingdom broke apart within a few years of his death. But the prophecy also spoke about a “Son of David” who would come, who would have a kingdom without end. God would be his father, and he would be God’s son. The Son of David will also be the Son of God!

The Gospels are careful to point out that Jesus has descended from David from both parents because of this prophecy. Many other prophecies talk about the “Branch” from David’s tree (Jeremiah 23:5), or the “shoot from the stump of Jesse,” David’s father (Isaiah 11:1). They are using the image of a family as a tree, and Jesus as a “branch” means that he is a descendant.

This also explains why Jesus kept speaking about the kingdom of God in his ministry — because as the Messiah, he was the King that God had sent to rule over his kingdom that would never end! And if we follow him, enter his kingdom, we will live with him forever.

For more on this topic, see “The Messiah will Build God’s House.”

What Does “Christ” Mean?

by Lois Tverberg

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

It is always fascinating and enriching to bring the Hebraic cultural context into understanding the most important, basic words that Christians use. One of the most important is the word “Christ.” What implications does it have for us to say that Jesus is the “Christ”?

First of all, the word “Christ” comes from christos, a Greek word meaning “anointed.” It is the equivalent of the word mashiach, or Messiah, in Hebrew. But what does that mean? To be anointed is literally to have sacred anointing oil poured on one’s head because God has chosen the person for a special task. Kings were anointed during their coronation rather than receiving a crown. Even though prophets and priests were anointed, the phrase “anointed one” or “the Lord’s anointed” was most often used to refer to a king.

David being Anointed

So, the main picture of the word “Messiah” or “Christ” as the “anointed one” was of a king chosen by God. Even though we tend not to pick up on the cultural pictures, the gospels tell us many times that Jesus is this great King who has come. During Jesus’ trial, the main question that he is asked is “Are you the King of the Jews?” and he answers affirmatively:

And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” So Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” (Luke 23:2-3)

The fact that Jesus’ disciples and others who believed in him referred to him as “Lord” also suggests that they were giving him great honor, with the understanding that he is the Messianic King. To use the word “Lord” displays an attitude of obedient submission to a greater power. Jesus seems even to expect that those who call him Lord obey him – he said to his listeners, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). To call him Lord or to call him Jesus Christ is to say that he is the King that God has sent who has a right to reign over us!

This has implications about the basic understanding of what a Christian is. We tend to define ourselves by our statements of belief, but the very word “Christ” calls us to more than that. If “Christ” means King, a Christian is one who considers Jesus his Lord and King, and submits to his reign!

Photo: Lawrence OP