"Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ, whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David? He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit [i.e., by inspiration] call him Lord, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [Master or Ruler] Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool,—If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" Matt. 22:42-45.
Some of our day, like the Pharisees of old, too indolent and too indifferent to search, are not able to answer this question, and are provoked by having such questions asked—and they are not slow to brand such as "controversial and unprofitable questions." But let it be remembered that the Lord himself asked this question, and implied that in such an appreciation of the subject as would enable us to answer it lay a key to a clearer appreciation of himself and his mission. Therefore let us examine this important and profitable question and obtain the key and the knowledge therefrom.
We find two general views relative to Jesus: one seems to reject his Lordship [R809 : page 3] entirely and considers him only as David's son and Joseph's son. Another class goes to an opposite extreme, and while acknowledging the Messiah as David's Lord, or Ruler, they virtually deny that he is David's son. They claim that the Messiah was a mixture of the divine and human natures, in fact that he was a mixture of three distinct persons in one person, and that because of this mixture of natures, he could be and was, at one and the same time both David's son and David's Lord. And their wonderful wisdom and faith (?) goes still further and claims that by virtue of this mixture he was both his own son and his own Father and Lord. A right exercise of reason fails to discern in this absurdity any answer to Jesus' question,—How could David's Son be his Lord? Such an absurdity is nowhere taught in the Scriptures and nowhere illustrated in nature. Two natures cannot mix except to produce an imperfect thing. Such a ludicrous absurdity even the Pharisees would have been ashamed to advance, and they took the more sensible course of holding their peace and asking no more questions.
But so strong is the faith (?) of the nominal Church on this point, that like the Pharisees of old, they would not dare to ask Jesus and the Apostles to explain how this could be, fearing that they might make manifest the absurdity of their traditions by a clear presentation of the truth. This theory virtually denies that Christ should be or was the Son of David, and implies that he only pretended to be such. They claim that he was not really a man during his earthly career of 33 years, but all that time was really a spiritual being, who merely went about in human form, appearing to be and pretending to be a man, but not actually such. Dare any thus charge him in whose mouth was found no guile? Both of these classes of theorists should carefully note that the Scriptures assert both things of Jesus. He must be both David's Son and David's Lord. He must be both the stem or branch out of David's roots, and in some way David must be seen to be a branch or shoot out of Christ as a root. This is pointedly expressed by Jesus himself in his last message to us—we might say that his last words were "I am the root and the offspring of David." Rev. 22:16.
In our September and October issues we pointed out how the "Undefiled One" was the offspring of David through his mother Mary, yet because the life germ came not from Joseph, and was not from the condemned Adamic stock, but was a life transferred from above, therefore he was when made flesh, separate from sinners and uncondemned—the undefiled one in whom was no sin, but yet a man, of human nature, but not a sharer of our imperfection, except as during his ministry, he voluntarily took our sicknesses (Matt. 8:17; Isa. 53:4). We shall not, therefore, here stop to show how he was David's Son, stem, or branch, considering that we have done this to your reasonable satisfaction, but shall proceed to show how he is David's Lord and Root; first, however, we pause to remark upon the unreasonableness of the claim, that while on earth, Jesus was only pretending to be a man, pretending to be tried and tempted like as we are, pretending to be weary, pretending to be hungry, pretending to be very sorrowful, pretending to pray, pretending to suffer, and to die. To refute this theory which implies false pretense, we simply refer to the Apostle's words that he who was rich became poor for our sakes; not merely pretended to be poor, but actually became poor, or of a lower nature. He humbled himself for the work, says the Apostle, taking our nature. (Eph. 2:7,8.) The necessity for his coming to earth at all, proves that he became a man, for as millions of bulls and goats slain for sin, as sin offerings, could not take away sin, so the sacrifice of millions of angels or of Jehovah himself, could never, according to divine arrangement, take away sin for the same reason: viz., they would no more be a corresponding price for condemned man, than would bulls and goats, because they are of different nature. As shown in our October issue, the Mediator—the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom [Greek antilutron—a corresponding price] which proves that he was a man, for nothing else would be a corresponding price; and it proves also that he was a perfect man, for nothing else would be a corresponding price for the sin and penalty of the first perfect man—Adam. (Rom. 5:17-19.)
Coming to the consideration of the Lordship of Christ, it is in place to remind some of our readers, that our English word lord is used to translate a number of words having somewhat different meanings in the Old Testament Scriptures, the principal one of which is Jehovah, and always refers to the Lord of all other lords; other words used, signify master or ruler, or governor, etc. But in the New Testament, the Greek, like our English Bibles, makes no distinction, and whether Jehovah or an inferior master is meant, must be judged from the context; or by the Hebrew, where the expression is a quotation from the Old Testament. In the case under consideration, we have a quotation to deal with; Jesus quoted from Psa. 110:1, "The Lord [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [adon -master] sit thou, etc." It is well that we should remember also that angels in olden times, sent to bear messages to mankind, were addressed by men as Lord—i.e., superior or master. In this sense Jesus before he became a man was man's superior; and when a man he was perfect, and hence still far superior to those about him; and in addition to this as the agent or messenger of Jehovah, he was a Lord, a master, a teacher, among men. Thus he said to his disciples, "Ye call me Lord and master and ye do well [or properly] for so I am." (John 13:13.) But he was not then Lord in the sense which David's prophecy implied, and to which our Lord's question referred except in a reckoned sense, until he had finished his trial and sacrifice, and was raised from the dead.
When we come to examine the Lordship of Jesus referred to by him in the text under consideration, we find that it has reference to a Lordship much beyond any of these suggestions. The sense in which it is used is made clear by Rev. 22:16, "I am the root of David," that is the father or progenitor of David.
Adam was the original root from which humanity sprang as so many shoots or sprouts. The root was originally sound and perfect, "very good" but was blighted by sin. As a result, all the sprouts are weak and sickly, dead or dying. Jesus was, so to speak, a new graft into the human stock, whose vitality as a grafted branch, became a new root by burial or planting. [Those familiar with the culture of the grape-vine will appreciate this most and can see clearly how the new grafted stem could become the new root to a new and perfect vine of the same kind and quality of the buried branch.]
Thus seen Jesus became the new shoot, stem, or BRANCH out of David when born of a virgin; but it was in his death, burial and resurrection that he became the ROOT by whose vitality David and all the withered, dying Adamic sprouts will be RESTORED—brought to all the perfection of existence which the original root, Adam, failed to bring to them through his own blight. Hence, Jesus is called the Life giver, the Restorer; and the time in which this, his great work, shall be accomplished, is called "The times of restitution."
Thus seen, Christ becomes the Father of the human race during the Millennial age, for a life-giver is a father. Then he shall be called the "Everlasting Father" by the restored human race. Thus, he who as a man, was a son or offspring of David, becomes the root, the Father, the Lord of David, and as truly of others, as of David. Here applies the prophetic statement concerning the appointment of these ancient worthies—Abraham, Isaac, David, to honored service during the reign of Jesus and his joint-heir, his bride, his body, viz., "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth." (Psa. 45:16.) These who were once the "fathers" shall be Christ's children; instead of his roots, they shall be his branches. He who once, as the man Jesus, was the Son of David, shall as the restorer and life-giver of David be his Father and Lord.
But let us notice when these changes occurred. He was not the Son of David before he left the higher nature and became a man—a branch out of the roots of Jesse. (Isa. 11:1.) Nor is he yet David's Lord, in the sense here considered, that is, as David's father, except as recognized prophetically, for David has not yet been made alive from the dead. The race, as a whole, is still clinging as withered or withering branches to the original root Adam: the New Root, though full of vitality, has not yet sprouted forth (except as in the Christian Church fresh rootlets have been put forth). The sprouting awaits the spring time of God's appointment and favor, the Millennial Age—the resurrection or restitution times. Though he is not yet, he shall be called, and truly, "the everlasting Father," or the giver of perfect, everlasting life.
From this it appears that Jesus becomes the "ROOT," Lord, Life-giver of the race, by virtue of his death and resurrection, and hence that in this sense he was not David's root or Lord before his death. This agrees perfectly with the statement of the Apostles on this subject.
Peter argues the whole subject in Acts 2. After assuring us that Jesus was a man (verse 22), and that he died and was raised out of death by divine power, and highly exalted (verses 23,24,33), [R810 : page 3] he refers us to this exaltation, saying, "Know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ" (verse 36). In other words, it was by virtue of his obedience to death that he was made LORD.
Note further Paul's words on this subject: "To this end Christ both died and revived, that he might be LORD, both of the dead and the living." Rom. 14:9. How forcible! Paul says, Jesus died that he might be Lord; Peter, that he was exalted by the right hand of God who hath made him Lord. He became David's offspring in Bethlehem; he became David's Lord and the root from which David must receive life at his resurrection, and by virtue of his death. As the Apostle says again, "Jesus Christ our Lord...was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power [might and authority]...by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom. 1:4.) The might, authority, or power, was gained by his sacrifice; it was recognized of God, and declared to men, by his resurrection. He had delegated power and prospective authority before, but not until after his sacrifice declared acceptable to God by the fact of his resurrection did he say, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28:18.) Having bought all, he now has power and authority over all. Wherefore it is written, "He is Lord of all."
To be Lord of the dead, implies the right, authority and power to give them life, to restore them to life and its privileges; and secondly, it implies that the dead are so completely dead—annihilated—as to need another Father to regenerate or re-create them—to give them anew the impulse of life.
That Jesus had not such right, authority or power until he had given himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all, scarcely requires argument. Jehovah had condemned mankind to death, and had therefore permitted the great enemy to have (Heb. 2:14) dominion or power over all; and to suppose that Jesus would or could present himself in the world as the Lord of those dead, before he had redeemed them, would be to suppose that he came to oppose the Father's authority, and in defiance of his pronounced penalty, to order the release of those prisoners on his own authority. But Jesus disclaimed any such attempt when he said, "I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." It was the Father's will, and the Son's course, to give himself a ransom for all, that thus he might rightfully become Lord of all by the purchase of all with his own precious blood. Having bought all, he declares not only his power, but his will (still the Father's will) to be, that all may be brought to a knowledge of the truth, that thereby, under his righteous administration, they may all by obedience come to perfection and life everlasting.
Some may think that Jesus gave evidence that he was Lord of the dead, and as such had power to restore them to life before he died? We answer, No; Elijah and Elisha similarly awakened the dead for a little time; but neither they nor Jesus claimed to do it by their own power. It was the power of Jehovah delegated to, or active through them. (John 14:10 and 10:25.) But neither they nor Jesus ever released any from death fully to perfect life; nor was it possible to do so, seeing that all were yet under condemnation of death until the ransom for all had been given. In harmony with this is the statement that Jesus in his resurrection was the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18)—the first one fully and perfectly released from death.
In perfect harmony also is Paul's statement (Phil. 2:6-11), that God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name...that every tongue should confess that Jesus is LORD to the glory of God the Father—because he humbled himself to manhood, and then to death, even the disgraceful death on the cross, in obedience to the Father's plan for our redemption.
Now, looking at the words of Jesus, we can see how he was David's Son, and yet is to be David's Lord or Father. And noting the prophecy referred to by Jesus in this connection, and also referred to by the Apostles (Matt. 22:4; Heb. 1:13), viz., "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool," we see that this refers the Lordship of Jesus to a time after his sufferings and trials were ended. After he had been accounted worthy of exaltation, then he was exalted, and before that time he could only be called David's Lord prophetically. Jehovah would not, could not, justly give him the dominion and subdue it under him until it had been released from the curse, bought with a price: And that just price he paid, and is therefore now rightfully LORD, by Jehovah's appointment.