Having roundly defeated his adversaries so that (in verse 40) “they no longer dared ask him any questions,” Jesus now takes his turn to ask a question himself (20:41-47).
This question is designed to expose the illogical argument that his opponents were employing when they rejected the notion that the Messiah could be anything other than human. Going back to Scripture, he asks “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son?” Jesus believes that the Christ is in the line of David, of course, but also that the Christ is far more than merely David’s son. He then cites David himself from Psalm 110—the most quoted psalm in the New Testament—showing that David, prophetically, spoke better than he knew when he spoke of his “son” being also his “Lord.”
Note: Sometimes the best solution to an intractable questioner is to ask a question in return that exposes the fallacy of the presuppositions. Note also that the Christ is far more than merely David’s son! He is the Lord of all glory!
Next, verses 45-47, Jesus now directly exposes the hypocrisy of the scribes. Some religious leaders were like this then—and, we fear, some religious leaders are still like this today. “Religion” is not our goal. “Relationship” with Christ is our thirst and our love. Rules are not our watch word; grace is the byline for all our endeavors. Mercy, love, the fruit of the Spirit—all of this comes from a faith in the gospel of Jesus (not a religion of works, but a grace that transforms us from the inside out).
These scribes though had fallen into the worst kind of religiosity. They loved to look good to other people and have people praise them (20:46). Their type has not altogether died out; there are still those religious people who seem to like nothing better than looking good to other people (whether or not they are good inside is only for God to judge). But Jesus’ most severe condemnation is found in verse 47: the fundraising vampire covers his monetary blood thirst by ever so long prayers! How sad it is, how human, how wickedly religious. The truth is that this behavior and these people will receive the “greater condemnation.”
Not so with us, beloved, not so with us. May we fall humbly before our Lord—the Lord Jesus Christ—and ask him for mercy, that we might live lives of transformed grace.
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