Greater than David



It’s easy to become blasé about knowing Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour of the world. Come before him with a sense of gratitude and awe, praising him for who he is.

Bible passage

Luke 20:41–47

Whose son is the Messiah?

41 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:

‘“The Lord said to my Lord:
    ‘Sit at my right hand
43 until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.’”

44 David calls him “Lord.” How then can he be his son?’

Warning against the teachers of the law

45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 ‘Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the market-places and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.’

Woman sea breeze


Again in this section of Luke’s Gospel we pick up the theme of the identity or credentials of Jesus. Now it’s Jesus’ turn to ask a question. The Pharisees used the phrase ‘Son of David’ to refer to the Messiah. David was considered to be their greatest king, and the Messiah will, they believe, restore David’s kingdom to its original glory. They are happy for Jesus to be a son of David in the sense of being his descendant – and they know that the Messiah will be a descendant of David. Yet if King David refers to the Messiah as his Lord, challenges Jesus (v 44), surely the Messiah is greater than David. Can the Messiah be just human?

Jesus is leading them to the logical conclusion that he is the Messiah and God incarnate. But this is a step too far for them.

Jesus keeps his harshest words (vs 46,47) for the religious leaders whose outward appearance speaks of devotion to God while they resist his message. Although the words are often condemning – elsewhere he calls them vipers, fools, hypocrites – remember that he is soon to lay down his life for such people as these.

Lin Ball


Pray for church leaders locally and nationally to be tender-hearted and humble, fully aware that they serve the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Deeper Bible study

Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.’1

The Jewish leaders stop their attacks, but Jesus now challenges their reading of Psalm 110:1, the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament.2 He draws on the Hebrew of Psalm 110:1, ‘Yhwh declares to my ʾā·ḏôn’. Jesus is David’s descendant,3 but Jesus asks how the Christ can be merely David’s son when God calls him Adonai, a name for God. The teachers of the Law failed to read their Scriptures closely and perceive the Messiah’s identity as the Divine Son, given dominion to subdue God’s enemies.

Then, in their presence, Jesus warns the disciples to beware of Israel’s lawyers. In a culture where seats were given based on rank, in synagogues, they love sitting directly beside the Torah-ark. They also covet the places beside the host at meals. They ‘devour widows’ houses’ (v 47): this can mean mismanaging widows’ Temple offerings, abusing their hospitality, taking their homes for unpaid debts, or exorbitant legal fees.4 The next passage suggests that the first of these may be correct. They also make a big show of their public prayers.

Four things strike me. First, Jesus’ divinity is etched into his own teaching – he is fully human and fully God. Second, we are warned against pride and seeking status. Whether or not we wear clerical clothes, our posture must always be cross-bearing humility, service and taking the lowest seats.5 Third, wherever we work, we must treat all people justly, responding to oppression with radical generosity. Fourth, there is no place for seeking adulation as we worship, something especially important for Christian worship leaders and musicians. We worship not to be praised, but to give praise to Yahweh and Adonai, God, Father and Son! 

Consider your attitudes. Are you living humbly, or are you subtly seeking adulation through your piety? Repent. Rise and worship and serve God and Son.

1 The Nicene Creed  2 Eg Acts 2:34,35  3Luke 3:31  4 Darrell L Bock, Luke 9:51 – 24:53, Baker Academic, 1996, p1634–1635 (Logos)  5Luke 14:8–11

Mark Keown

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year: Hosea 11,12; Revelation 3

Pray for Scripture Union

This week, all of the Scripture Union prayers relate to this article.

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