Jesus Christ as Son of David, Messiah, and Lord

by Spiros Zodhiates

 (As part of the introduction to his Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Dr. Zodhiates includes comparisons of coverage and emphasis with the Gospels of Mark and Luke on major doctrines-of which this article summarizes the first. The other doctrines to follow are "Kingdom Eschatology," and "New Covenant Believers and True Righteousness.")

Second only to Luke in providing pre-birth and birth narrative details, Matthew's is the only Gospel that records Jesus' birth to the virgin (1:23) in fulfillment of prophecy. (The article "the" is clearly present in both the Hebrew prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and its Greek quotation in Matthew 1:23.)

Matthew includes a meticulous detail to keep his readers from misconstruing the term "virgin": "before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit" (nkjv 1:18), and again in verse 25: "And [Joseph] knew  her not [i.e., he kept her a virgin] until she gave birth to a son" (a.t.).

Matthew records the clearest trinitarian formula (and therefore, exhibits a high-if not the highest-Christology in the entire New Testament) in Matthew 28:19 where he sums up Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a single "name" that can only be the name of God. Accompanying this exceptional testimony is Matthew's unique testimony to the Father passing to the Son "all authority [exousa power, authority] in heaven and on earth" (28:18 nkjv, nasb, niv). Jesus is "Son of God" (2:15) and "Lord" (8:6, 21, 25, etc.) to whom divine worship is properly accorded (2:2, etc.1).

Although Luke and John respectively call attention to the belief of the shepherds (Luke 2:15) and Jews in general (John 7:42) that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, Matthew alone cites the fulfillment of a prophecy which proclaims the Messiah as "from everlasting" (Matt. 2:5-6; Mic. 5:1-2).

Jesus' sovereignty extends over the angels (13:41; 16:27; 24:31) within the universe which the Father has delivered to Him (11:27). Matthew alone includes both Jesus' teaching that He possesses the exclusive right to reveal the Father and the sovereign right to do so (11:27; 19:11). Accordingly, Matthew alone cites Jesus' words to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (16:17 nasb).

The Lord Jesus infallibly saves His elect: "He shall save his people from their sins" (1:21, Matthew only). Also, in Matthew only: "the gates of Hades shall not overpower [katischo\]" the Lord's church (a.t; 16:18). The Father reveals truth to infants in whom "[He] has prepared praise for [Himself]" (21:16, Matthew only); but hides revelation from the arrogant (11:25, Matthew only) because this is "well-pleasing in [His] sight" (11:26 nasb, Matthew only). "Every plant," Matthew alone quotes Jesus, "which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up" (Matt. 15:13 nasb).

God's revelation is a sovereign blessing, not something moved even by the powerful desires of the righteous: "But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired [from epithuméo\ to desire strongly] to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it" (a.t.; 13:16-17).

Even if a person drinks the Lord's cup down to the last drop of obedience, following Him in righteousness to the very same sacrificial death, the reward is detached from choice, faith, and act: "My cup you shall indeed drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father" (a.t.; Matt. 20:23). The universal response of the flesh to such sovereignty is indignation (20:24, cf. 20:10-12; Mark 10:41). But God is still sovereign.

Jesus is sovereign as God incarnate, which means He is Lord as man. As the Son of man He is the highest member of all creation. Even before His exalted resurrection and ascension to glory, we read that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins (9:6); the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath (12:8); the Son of man is sovereign over angels (13:41); the Son of man comes in the glory of His Father with His angels (16:27); the Son of man sits on the throne of His glory (19:28; 24:30; 25:31; 26:64) in His kingdom (13:41; 16:28).

Underscoring his evangelical aim to reach the Jews, as compared to Luke's more Gentile-directed Son of Adam Christology (Luke 3:23-38), Matthew focuses on Jesus as the free Son called out of Egypt (2:15), the Son of David (1:1; 9:27; 12:23), and Messiah (1:1, 16-18; 2:4; 11:2, etc.), the fulfiller and fulfillment of Old Testament types and prophecies (1:22-23, etc.2). Matthew alone introduces prophecy with the clause "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by...[the Lord, the prophet, the prophets]."3

Only Matthew records the Magi's question, "Where is He that is born [i.e., destined to be] king of the Jews?" (2:2), a sharper focus than Luke's counterpart "tidings of great joy... to all people" for Gentiles (Luke 2:10); yet Matthew does not view the Gentile as excluded, since this destiny was proclaimed to "wise men from the east" (2:1).

Jesus is David's heir of promise (Ps. 89:20-29), the Messiah, the anointed One, "the Christ [christs from chro\, to anoint], the Son of the living God" (16:16), and as Peter confesses, "this rock" upon which the church is built (Matt. 16:18, Matthew only). Matthew alone quotes Jesus' claim that He is "greater than the temple" (12:6). While Mark (15:38) and Luke (23:45) mention the tearing of the veil in the Temple, Matthew's is the only Gospel to connect the "rent" with a resurrection no doubt intended to be a firstfruit (cf. James 1:18) of Old Testament prophecies like Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2.

As coming King of kings, this Messiah is a threat first and foremost to the devil, who quickly infuses his fears into the mind and will of his subordinate, Herod, who in turn dispatches murderers to kill the Morning Star (2:16-18, Matthew alone among the Gospels; cf. Rev. 22:16). Once he fails to kill the child immediately after birth, the devil tries unsuccessfully to tempt Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple (4:5-7) and then later, he tries to frighten Him away from the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane (26:36-39).

From at least two of these scenarios, we can infer that he did not want Jesus to reach Golgotha, but even stronger evidence is seen in his desperate plea through Peter to circumvent the death in Jerusalem (16:22-23).

From The Gospel of Matthew-an Exegetical Commentary

©2004 by Spiros Zodhiates

Published by AMG Publishers


1. Also 2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17.

2. See also 2:15, 17-18, 23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:17-21; 13:14, 15, 35; 21:4, 5; 27:9-10.

3. Nine times: 1:22; 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:35.

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