So What Does it mean the Jesus was ‘The Son of David”?

Full Text

Text: Matt 1:18-25
This text from Matthew has a really clear purpose – to explain how Jesus is the Son of David even though he is the Son of the Virgin Mary. But I have to admit that what this text was written to address is just not relevant to today. Now before anyone goes nuts (‘the Parson has lost it, he’s throwing out the scripture!’), I’m perfectly willing to say its scripture. It is interesting in and of itself. But it was written in an apologetic mindset. It was written to convince people that Jesus was born of a virgin and still the Son of David.

There must be something important about Jesus being the Son of David. Something that maybe just escapes me, but I’d bet escapes most Christians today. I suggest three things, but it is more of an open question.

My thoughts were: 1) The eternal throne of David is in the new Jerusalem. What goes on in the Old Jerusalem carries no special religious significance. (i.e. the evangelicals that encourage a pro-Israel policy because of religious prophecy are badly misguided). 2) The Son of David – the fact that Jesus was the Jewish messiah – says something about how important culture is. God incarnated himself in a very particular culture, and then he forms a new people and calls them his body. Christians are the body of Christ. It is our task to incarnate Christ to our very specific time, place, culture. 3) The Son of David was the first to hold the key (see Isa 22:22). That key was given by the Son of David to Peter and the Apostles (i.e. the church). (see Matt 16:18-19, and Rev 3:7). That key is our salvation from sin. The king has the authority to pardon. Jesus as the eternal King – the eternal son of David – can pardon eternally.

So maybe it is relevant, but not easy to think about. About as easy as how God was born of a virgin.

2 thoughts on “So What Does it mean the Jesus was ‘The Son of David”?

  1. Could Christ be of the line of David through adoption by His foster father Joseph? The lack of physical connection between the two does not change the reality that Jesus Christ is Joseph’s son–by adoption.

    However, Romans 1:3 and 2 Timothy 2:8 refer to Christ as being “of the seed of David,” which implies direct physical descent, rather than adoption. The Catholics claim that most of the Fathers of the Church interpreted (inferred) this to mean that Mary herself was descended from King David, even though no such genealogy is included in the Scriptures. In this tradition, Mary and Joseph are distant cousins, and both are physically descended from King David. Thus Christ is “of the seed of David” from his mother Mary, and “of the line of David” through his foster father Joseph.

    What say you?

    1. The two genealogies that we have in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 are different. One of the ways of harmonizing that fact is to say that one is Joseph’s and one is Mary’s. Although I don’t like that because both of them claim Joseph at the end/beginning (they move in opposite directions). You’d have to posit something about one of them being a wink and nod which the biblical text usually doesn’t do except in very loud fashion (i.e. ‘let the reader understand’). It is probably easier just to say they selected different names as they telescoped the lineage.

      Given the cultural tendency to marry cousins or within the same clan, Mary and Joseph were probably both descendants of David however you harmonize the genealogies. Luke takes the genealogy back to Adam – Christ is the new Adam. Matthew cares about Christ as the new Israel and Christ as the legitimate Davidic King – hence you get Matthew’s divisions of ages Abraham, David, and post exile. Within Matthew alone (each gospel writer having certain unique theological points) the naming of Jesus is the legitimate heir of David (Joseph) claiming Jesus as his legitimate heir. I like your “seed of David” distinction. That certainly would give biblical backing for what is just supposition.

      Of course that two-fold nature – the legit king by human descent and recognition (Joseph) and yet the true heir, the seed, as per Paul’s discussion of Abraham’s seed in Gal 3:16 and forward – might have implications to the legitimacy of communions along the lines of some of our discussions. The apostolic succession is a legitimate way of descent mirroring Matthew’s purpose. The protestant comes from the same tree – we are cousins – but is connected as heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:29). Just some pious musings.

Comments are closed.