When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.”Matt 22:34-38
Jesus is asked many questions in the gospels, none more important than the one that starts today’s reading. But as important as his answer is, I forgot that he turns right around and asks the Pharisees his own question, one that clarifies something about the Greatest Commandment.
“What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.Matt 22:41-46
It’s hard to blame the Pharisees for identifying the Messiah as a descendant of David. After all, that’s a recurring theme in the Gospel of Matthew, right from the opening “genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1). Twice, two blind men call him the same thing (9:27, 20:30), and when the Pharisees question him in Jerusalem, Jesus had just entered David’s city to the sound of a crowd shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (21:9)
Who is the Messiah? The son of David: a warrior-king descended from the greatest warrior-king.
But when the temple priests angrily asked Jesus (21:15-16) if he had heard children making such claims (“out of the mouths of babes”), he quoted a psalm that begins, “O Lord, our sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps 8:1) And he quotes Psalm 110 to the Pharisees: “The Lord said to my lord…”
Who is the Messiah? The Lord of David: the object of all that poet-king’s praise.
The Lord, God the Son, to be loved with all our heart, all our soul, and all our minds. Praise to you, O Christ!