SOME QUESTIONS YOU CAN’T GET WRONG
Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
NOVEMBER 15, 2015
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
— Matthew 22:41-46, ESV
There are some question in life you can’t get wrong and there are some questions in life you can’t get wrong.
When the waiter asks you if you want chicken or steak, there’s no wrong answer. When the ice cream parlor attendant asks you if you want chocolate or vanilla, once again, you can’t go wrong. Some questions in life have multiple answers that are all good, so you really can’t get them wrong.
On your algebra test, however, there is a right answer and a wrong answer, and your answer is consequential. If you want to make good grades, go to college, and enjoy a lucrative career, you can’t get too many of those questions wrong. Once you’re on the job, answer too many questions wrong and the next thing you know you are looking for a new job. So you see, some questions in life have serious ramifications for getting the answer wrong.
This is especially true when it comes to matter of religion, faith, and especially religious faith in the true and living God. All roads do not lead to Heaven, so it cannot be all good. Just as He divides all time into B.C. and A.D., so the Lord Jesus Christ divides all mankind into those who answer rightly and wrongly concerning the most critical questions of this life, and the life to come.
The Herodians, Sadducees, and Pharisees were deceitful little men asking disingenuous questions of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the previous three episodes, each took their turn in asking trick questions to trap Him. Their goal was to catch Jesus in some error and drag Him into the courts of public opinion, and Rome, in order to condemn Him. Each time our Lord swatted their slow pitches and provided a perfect answer. Now, it was the Messiah’s turn to take the mound.
Jesus threw three pitches, all concerning the identity of the Christ. They are perhaps the most profound questions ever posited on this planet.
“What do you think about the Christ?” “Whose son is he?” “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”
“Christ,” or “Messiah,” identifies a person anointed by God to mediate for and save God’s people. There is a corporate sense in which Old Testament priests and people could mediate for others and lead them into a saving relationship with God, just like the New Testament church and Christians can do today. There is a sense in which key characters, like Moses or David or John the Baptist or the Apostle Paul, were viewed as God-like saviors of God’s people. We even throw around the term “Messiah” or “Savior” loosely for political, economic, and sports stars who turn around governments or franchises. There seem to be many messiahs who have come into the world.
Or, is the answer to the question of the Christ really only one? The question Jesus asked did not concern itself with multiple Christs, or metaphorical Christs, but the Christ. If there is only one, then who is he, how does he mediate between God and man, and what does he save people from and for? This is a good and godly question, which leads to the two others.
If there is only one Christ or Messiah or Savior, then who is he? Where did he come from? How can we know who he is? Look to the Bible for answers.
The Bible gives us inspired answers to life’s most profound questions because it is profoundly the inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God. The Pharisees and most Jews believed this in Jesus’ day. The majority of confessing Christians today assume the same authority of Scripture. When you have to answer a question you cannot get wrong, you cannot go wrong by looking for the answer in the pages of God’s word, the Bible.
Jesus hung His hat on Psalm 110, and cited just the first verse. He did this to make the Pharisees think about the important questions at hand and get to the right answer. Let’s consider the questions again and see what biblical answers can be found.
“What do you think about the Christ?”
It is clear that Jesus of Nazareth considered Himself to be the Christ, the one and only anointed by God the Father to mediate between Him and His people and save them from their sins. The Old Testament points to the Christ, the New Testament presents and explains the Christ, and Jesus Christ is the Christ!
To the Pharisees, however, no such Christ was sought; and, even if he were, the carpenter’s son from Galilee could not be him. Salvation for them was not by grace through faith in God’s Savior, but by legalistically keeping God’s law as defined by rules and regulations of the Pharisees. Sadly, these silly little men represent most men today, who think salvation comes by self-help, self-esteem, self-worth, and self-work.
What do you think about the Christ? Is a Savior really needed? Won’t God just let sin slide? If we do need a Savior, who is He, and where does He come from?
“Whose son is he?”
On this question the Lord and the Pharisees finally found some common ground. The Old Testament prophets did indeed promise that a descendent of David would deliver God’s people and sit upon the king’s throne at the right hand of God forever and ever. David, of course, had been a principal prophet, priest, and king of Israel, leading them to their apex of power and proprietorial lands. One day, a new king would arrive from David’s lineage to give Israel not only exclusive authority over a relatively small country in the Middle East, but over the whole world.
The fulfillment to this promise had almost vanished from Jewish thought by the time Jesus arrived on the planet, and you would be hard pressed to find a literal Messianic hope amongst the whole of religious Judaism today. David reigned three thousand years ago. After his son Solomon squandered most of David’s moral and spiritual authority, the kingdom split in two. The Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom in the 8th century B.C. and the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and Judea at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. No Jewish king has reigned over exclusively Jewish land since then.
“The son of David” was really a hollow answer given by the Pharisees, for they failed to look long into the eyes, character, and history of the man standing in front of them. If they had only bothered to do the same research of the Jewish disciple Matthew and the Gentile disciple Luke, they would have known that Jesus, according to the flesh, was a direct descendent of King David.
Every Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, born a direct descendant of the great Jewish King David. Everybody loves the baby Jesus. But He is much, much more.
“If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”
Jesus challenged the Pharisees with His questions. He wanted them to see that He was indeed the son of David, and the Son of God. For it was David himself, as an inspired writer of Scripture, who claimed the very Messiah who would come from his loins would also somehow be the Lord of lords and King of Kings, God of very God!
Psalm 110, the most quoted Old Testament text in the New Testament, the favorite psalm of the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon, affirmed the biblical teaching of the humanity and deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He came from God (In Hebrew, “Yahwey”), He is God (In Hebrew, “Adoni”), He will save His people from the penalty of sin, and He will destroy unrepentant and unbelieving sinners in His wake.
We call the true story of how God became a man, of how a descendent of David would come to earth, of how He would live, die, rise again, of how He will return one day to rule the new heavens and new earth, we call this story the gospel. Do you believe the gospel? This is one question you cannot get wrong.
The Pharisees whiffed. Having had their turn at the plate, they struck out and walked back to the dugout. Failing to answer the question is failing. The Pharisees failed themselves, for this was their opportunity to know and trust the living God. They failed their people, the Jews, for the Jews looked to the Pharisees for biblical answers to important questions. Most of all, they failed God, for the one thing God wants you to do is believe in His only begotten Son.
You can ignore Jesus, like so many church members do on Sundays, or like the predominately secular people in our country and world. You can look unto lesser saviors in alternative religions of which there is no end. Either way is the broad way that leads to the wrong answer. If this is the path you are on, please turn around. This is a question you cannot get wrong.
Jesus is the answer, Son of Man and Son of God. Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. Jesus alone can input His perfect righteousness to your account and take your sin and wipe it completely clean. Come to Him, with the correct answers of repentance and faith, and receive forgiveness and eternal life which can never be taken away. Find answers and assurance in the perfect word of God, through the perfect gospel, through the perfect person and work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org