Many New Testament verses call Jesus the son of David. In fact, the first Gospel, Matthew, begins, "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1). But how can Jesus be David's son if He was born 1,000 years after David?
The proper understanding of Jesus as the son of David is found in both a literal and theological interpretation of the title. Taken literally, Jesus was a direct descendant of David, the king of Israel. When Matthew began his gospel, he started with an abbreviated family line of Jesus, noting clearly his connections with both Abraham and David. Matthew followed the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, focusing on Joseph as a son of Jacob who was descended from the family line of Solomon the son of David. Luke 3:23-38 also notes the literal family line of David to Jesus, though using a different list of ancestors. Many believe Luke's genealogy offers the family line of Jesus from Mary's family. If so, both sides of the family of Jesus descended from David.
Spiritually, Jesus also came as the Jewish Messiah, serving as the fulfillment of the seed of David. In 2 Samuel 7:15-16, God promised David, "but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever." Jesus came as the fulfillment of this promise, becoming the son of David who would forever serve as king.
In many instances, we find those who lived among Jesus referred to Him as the son of David. For example, Bartimaeus referred to Jesus as "son of David" when he asked for his sight. Others who sought healing from Jesus also used this title in their plea (Matthew 15:22; 20:30).
In contrast, the religious leaders were furious at the idea of Jesus being called the son of David. They understood the prophetic significance of the title and saw it as Jesus claiming to be the Messiah. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, once asked these religious leaders, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet."' David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?" (Mark 12:35-37). In giving this teaching, Jesus noted that even though the Messiah is referred to as the son of David, David himself called the Messiah "Lord." The point was to note that the son of David was more than a physical reference, but described the One who would come as Messiah and was deserving of worship.
The fact that Jesus was often referred to as the son of David highlights the fulfillment of prophecy, since Jesus was literally descended from David's family line. It is also clear that Jesus was the son of David in the sense of serving as the fulfillment of David's seed who would reign forever. Jesus serves as the only Messiah, the Savior of the world, offering the only means of salvation from sin (Acts 4:12). Through Him, those who believe have the opportunity to spend eternity with the Lord (John 3:16).
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