3 October 2014

Jesus, Son of David

emptytombThe Gospel of Matthew opens with these words,

The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

This Gospel is big on fulfilment and these two Old Testament figures take a prominent place in its opening because Jesus is being portrayed as part of a much bigger story. In the last post I looked again at Jesus, Son of Abraham. This post looks at Jesus as the Son of David.

Whilst God’s promise to Abraham was the Covenant Promise of Life, David was given a Covenant Promise of a Righteous Kingdom and King. At the time of King David, the promises to Abraham had been playing out in the lives of the patriarchs for centuries. The Israelites had increased in number, even in slavery in Egypt, and had made their Exodus to Sinai to become a nation under God, formed around another covenant, the covenant of Moses (which serves the deeper purposes of the promise to Abraham). The nation had taken possession of the land which God had promised, and had appointed kings. Kings had come from Abraham – as had been promised. The promises to Abraham were now held by a political, military, nation-state, which could hope for peace and prosperity under its king; who exercised authority over injustice and evil, and protected his people from harm. The Kingdom of God was established on earth, a mustard seed, a small beginning. And all within the context of the worship of God the King in Jerusalem. In the heady days of David’s reign, God made a covenant with him.

The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. … Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever (2 Sam 7:11-16).

This is the Covenant Promise of a Righteous Kingdom and King, through which the Covenant Promise of Life would be realised. The Kingdom of God, on earth. Of course, David’s kingdom declined; compromised, messy, fatally flawed. David’s days ended. He was not the king who could make the Covenant Promise of Life a reality. Yet the hope remained of the ultimate king, the Anointed One, the Messiah, who would bring the Kingdom of God and its peace, whose throne would be established forever.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:5-7).

As the years went by, hope faded. The nation was divided under compromised kings, exile followed. Even after the return to the land, the decline continued, until under Roman rule, the hope of God’s kingdom seemed as far away as ever. When would the Messiah appear, to bring in the Kingdom of God? At the beginning of his Gospel, Matthew is clear. Jesus is the Son of David, Jesus is the Messiah: ‘This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about…’ (Matthew 1:18).

After Jesus is crucified, his credentials as the Messiah are in tatters. But, his death turns out to bring life and forgiveness. And, at the end of the Gospel of Matthew we again find the theme of Fulfilment. We find the resurrected, living Jesus speaking these words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). The Messiah is alive. Not only that, but the Messiah is Mighty God as well as being human. In the Messiah, God has become King. His house and his kingdom will endure forever. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He is bringing in the Kingdom of God through salvation, and through judgement.

And that’s important. Because this is all history. A real story. And you’re in it.