Alfred Place Baptist Church

12:35-37 Whose Son Is Christ?

Mark 12:35-37 “While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, ‘How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, speaking by 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.” How then can he be his son?’ The large crowd listened to him with delight.”
The various sections of the religious establishment in Judah have come to Jesus in the temple with a storm of loaded questions and he has answered them all so magnificently. Now there’s a lull after the storm and Jesus uses this time, not for R and R but to teach the people. We’ve got to teach both the church and the world, and teach them in and out of season; we must keep teaching them about the kingdom of God until our latest breath; there’s to be no end to teaching the people until the archangel’s trumpet sounds from heaven. What do we teach? “Teach them to observe everything I’ve commanded you,” said Jesus.

Here Christ changes his style of teaching and turns the occasion into a seminar. What he does is to ask them a question. They’ve been asking him these huge questions, and then he says, in effect, “Let me ask you a question . . . have you ever thought of this . . . ?” Jesus just raises one single question, but nobody at all makes an attempt to answer it, and no one asks another question of the Lord Christ. His audience relish the long silence as the Herodians, and the priests, and the Sadducees, and the teachers of the law, and the Pharisees all look away pretending to be busy with their thoughts! Jesus’ audience looks at him with delight. The word of Christ had that impact on men. Delight in the listening congregation! Not one miracle was done in the temple but his congregation heard him with delight. There was no more ding-dong debating, just Jesus teaching the people, but the large crowd packed all around him listened to him with enormous pleasure (v.37). Don’t you think that’s the pattern for real worship today? Joy in the word of God. No fake miracles; no human engineering to stir up an audience by the drums and guitars, personalities and bustle, rather just the words of the Son of God coming right into the hearts of God’s people and being received with delight. That’s what we long for. Lord, give it! O please give it to us, Lord!

The question Jesus raised was about the Bible. He is going to be crucified in five days’ time but his concern is about the teaching of the Bible. Do the people know the Bible? Have the men who’ve been teaching the people the Bible got it right? Lots of Bible teachers don’t have it right do they? Jesus is prising the people loose from the false teaching of the scribes and Pharisees. He is going to be their prophet from this moment on. The teachers of the law looked at Psalm 110 and they said, “Psalm 110 proves that the Messiah will be the Son of David.” That’s all they saw in the psalm, and all they taught the people. How banal! Like saying about Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’, “It’s about Russia.” The psalm did teach that the Messiah would be David’s son, but much more. The scribes drew out one truth and ignored all the rest. So they were distorting the unique message of the psalm by their silence. Its extraordinary truth was exchanged for some diluted message. The scribes assured the people the Messiah was going to come – “so be good!” – and he’d be the mighty king. That message was very popular. They preached it to keep up the spirits of the people after a century of Roman bondage. “When will all this end?” said the Israelites as they watched another Roman legion marching past. “The Messiah is going to come to deliver us from our enemies, and our biggest enemy today is Rome. When the Christ comes he will be of the house and lineage of David. Won’t we be great then? We’ll rule the world! We’ll be marching in the army of the Messiah and drive the Romans into the Med.! Psalm 110 tells us.”

Pathetic teachers, using Scripture to boost a certain political position and feed the sense of injustice in their hearers. We know such teachers well. The Lord Jesus wasn’t denying the fact that the Messiah was going to be of the line of David. Of course he was going to be great David’s greater Son. His striking point was this, how David in this psalm refers to the Messiah as “my Lord.” The great king was referring to one of his own descendants as his ‘Lord.’ You’d expect his descendants to look back at the revered king David, and they would acknowledge him to be their lord, but David in this psalm is bowing down to the Messiah; “My Lord!” he is saying to one of his descendants. What did that mean? These teachers of the law who were unable to answer Jesus were mere men with prejudices and hunches, uninspired by the Holy Spirit when they taught, whereas all Scripture was given by inspiration of God. Holy men of old like David spoke as they were borne along by the Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus made that fact transparently clear. God the Son acknowledges the inspiration of these words in Psalm 110. He acknowledges David to be their author. What could be more clear in verse 36 in our text, “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared . . .”? David wrote Psalm 110, but it was the Spirit of God that constrained him to write those words. It wasn’t just King David who said he was ‘Lord,’ it was the Almighty Lord who was calling the Messiah ‘David’s Lord’ by God the Spirit. What a Trinitarian theology we have here. The teachers of the law were passing over this extraordinary truth to make some less significant observations. Let us examine these words.

1. THE MESSIAH IS NONE LESS THAN DAVID’S LORD.

What does David mean when he calls the Messiah ‘Lord’? Firstly, it meant ownership, David is the Lord’s; the king is saying that he would completely belong to the coming Messiah. “I am his, for ever and ever.” This Lord would have absolute dominion over King David, without any restraints whatsoever. This king of Israel and Judah would be the Messiah’s servant in exactly the same manner as he was God’s servant – the same respect; he same degree of total obedience; the same loving submission. David carried with him a sense of unconditional obligation to do Messiah’s will. If that Lord had ordered David to leave the dead unburied, he would do it; to forsake his royal palace and his throne to become a wayfaring man, he would do it; to take up his cross and lay down his life for him then David would have done that too. The Messiah’s demands took precedence over all David’s commitments

Secondly, lordship meant that David would submit to the Messiah’s teaching. For him the Messiah could say nothing wrong. This Christ, the greatest of all the prophets, is before us in our text, standing in the temple, superbly answering all who questioned him. He ever speaks with authority. When he said, ‘get thee behind me Satan,’ Satan leaped behind Christ and grovelled. When Christ said, ‘Let every knee bow’ not one knee would remain rigid in the whole vast world of men. All mankind, kings and commoners alike, will obey his words. David would submit to him. “He is my Lord and my Prophet.”

Thirdly, lordship meant that David was under the authority of the royal Messiah. David was king of a little country on the eastern end of the Mediterranean, but the Messiah would have the whole world in his hands. He would have all authority in heaven and in earth. He was going to possess authority over all flesh. He would sit at the right hand of the majesty on high. He would be there in the midst of God’s throne. His headship would be over the whole church, and also be head over all things for the church. All spiritual powers would be under him; let the devil step out of line and the Messiah would just yank his chain. David’s kingship was utterly submissive to the Messiah’s. To this Messiah would all the nations be gathered and every man would one day receive his eternal destiny from this anointed one’s lips.

Fourthly, the Messiah’s lordship meant his divinity. It could not be more evident. “The Lord said to my Lord.” The same word in both places. In the Old Testament Hebrew Psalm 110 has the word ‘adon’ and here in the Greek it is ‘kurios.’ They have the very same title. Everything that belongs to David’s God also belongs to David’s Messiah. This Christ is not only a man of the line of David, bone of David’s bone and flesh of David’s flesh, he is also David’s God. His name is Jehovah Davidson. That is the name before which David bows and before which all you sinners must bow. This is the Messiah who will come to save his people from their sin. This is the King who will crush the head of the serpent. He would come of the line of David, take our nature, share our experiences and bear our sins. The only hope David had for forgiveness for his heinous wickedness was through the salvation of the one he calls here “my Lord.”

Jesus says to the people in the temple, “David calls him ‘Lord.'” (v.37). In other words, David ascribes to the Messiah one of the greatest divine titles of the Old Testament. He is the God whose name expresses divine lordship. He is the fullness of the godhead. In the Christ we discover every attribute of God; he is eternal, omniscient, unchanging, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnicompetent in his righteousness, mercy and truth. He could say, “Before David was, I am.” He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). The one David calls his Lord performs all the functions of deity – creation, preservation, government and final judgment. The one whose Lordship David owns enjoys every divine prerogative. The glory due to him is precisely the glory due to God. Every tongue must confess him; every heart must worship him; we make melody in our hearts to the Lord; all must fall at his feet as though dead. This is what distinguishes church people, they call on the name of the Lord.

It is out of such devotion that all the psalms of David flowed, and the lordship of Christ has made his church not a preaching agency, and far less a liturgical agency but a community of praise, of Hallelujahs and Hosannas, of bowed heads and adoring singers. In heaven itself there is a choir to which everyone belongs and their songs are all about him – ‘Now unto him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood.’ Who is David’s Messiah?

“‘Tis the Lord! Oh wondrous story,
‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory.
At his feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! Crown him! Lord of all!”

David’s Messiah is not like the Lord God; he is not like the Lord God at all, he is the Lord God. He lacks nothing that enters into the definition of God. What God is, the Messiah is too. He is Jehovah, the only God, the one who is there. David’s Lord is given every possible divine designation. He performs every divine function. He possesses every divine attribute. He enjoys every divine prerogative. We flood the words of Psalm 110 with all the light of Jesus Christ who was with God and is God and who became flesh.

What do we have here from the pen of David? We have Lord with Lord. A Lord towards a Lord. A Lord distinct from a Lord. We have Lord speaking to Lord and saying, “Sit at my right hand.” Is there anything more remarkable in the whole psychology of the writers of the Old Testament than that a rigid monotheistic Jew like David should ascribe to the coming Messiah the title that is God’s. “The Lord was speaking to my Lord.” Adona was speaking to Adona Jesus.

In other words, as far as David was concerned the Messiah was unreservedly Jehovah, but he was not the totality of Jehovah. God the Father is also Jehovah, and the Spirit is also Jehovah. These cannot be different names for the same person, or different faces for the same person, otherwise David wouldn’t say that the Lord said to my Lord, “Sit near me here.” The Father sent the Son, another person; the Son was someone forsaken on Golgotha by the Father. These two Lords are certainly not different beings giving us two distinct gods. They are rather eternal distinctions within the One God, distinctions of such an intensely personal kind that each loves the other, they sit next to one another in love, and no membrane of difference exists between them.

2. THE MESSIAH IS BOTH DAVID’S SON AND DAVID’S LORD.

The opening words of the New Testament are these; “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David.” Then his genealogy is given down from Abraham, via David to “Joseph, the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ” (Matt. 1:16). He is there, named alongside every other human being. Jesus of Nazareth is one of the royal line of David. That is the great affirmation that marks the opening of the New Testament. It means three things:

i] Firstly, David’s Lord, God the Son, the second person of the godhead, took a true human body through someone in David’s line. She was a virgin called Mary, betrothed to Joseph who was of the house of David, and that is how the Lord Messiah had also become King David’s son. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she conceived and gave birth to the ‘little Lord Jesus.’ He was born in the usual way. The emergence into the world by the birth canal was not supernatural. He grew up. He had unpleasant experiences, times when he ached with hunger, times when he had a ravenous thirst or when he slept in utter exhaustion. He cried; he sweated and bled. He fell to the ground in his weakness. He was beaten, spat upon, the hairs of his beard were plucked, he was flogged, he was tortured and nailed through his hands and feet to a cross. He died, was wrapped in grave-clothes and spices, and he was buried. He rose, and he spoke, his familiar voice saying to them, “a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Lk. 24:39).

Luther preached to his congregation, “Jesus did not flutter about like a spirit. He lived amongst men. He had eyes, ears, mouth, nose, chest, stomach, hands and feet, just as you and I do. He took the breast. His mother nursed him as any other child is nursed.” My blood flowed in Jesus’ veins. The blood of the converted prostitute, the red blood of the AIDS victim in Uganda, is that ‘one’ same blood which flows in the veins of the Son of God.

Jesus’ body was identical with our own in all essential respects. “It had the same anatomy, the same physiology, the same biochemistry, the same central nervous system and the same basic genetic code. But the derivation from the substance of the Virgin also means that she as mother contributed to him all that any human mother contributes to her child, sin excepted. Through the umbilical cord, he is this particular man, the son of this particular woman, the bearer of the whole previous genetic history of her people and the recipient of innumerable hereditary features. He was a unique genotype precisely because she contributed at least half his chromosomes (as any human mother would). How the rest were contributed remains a mystery. The one certainty is that Mary could not herself have contributed the sex-determining chromosome, Y, which is always provided by the biological father. This chromosome, at least, must have been provided miraculously; and it remains possible that all the chromosomes normally derived from the male parent were provided in this way, the divine act which fertilized the ovum simultaneously creating twenty-three chromosomes complementary to those derived from the mother” (Donald Macleod, “The Person of Christ,” IVP, Leicester, 1998, p.162).

That is the means by which David’s Lord also became David’s son. “As the true biological son of his mother Jesus is particularized as a well-connected first-century Jew, born in humble circumstances and sharing the poverty and harassment of an oppressed under-class. He is also particularized as a man. This is only to say that he was a normal human being, which he could not have been without being either male or female . . . Through his body the Lord is linked to the whole of the physical creation and in particular to the whole of suffering humanity. He knows how we are formed; ‘he remembers that we are dust’ (Psalm 103:14). But the body is not just a memory for the risen Christ. He still has a body: a body which, by definition, is material and which stands in direct organic succession to the one he had in the days of his humiliation. That is what caused John Duncan to exclaim, ‘the dust of the earth is on the throne of the Majesty on High'” (ibid). We can say that it is the son of David who today is upon the throne of the universe.

ii] Secondly, David’s Lord took a reasonable human soul, in other words, he had a human psychology. He had a human mind, subject to the same laws of perception, memory, logic and development as our own. He went to the synagogue every Sabbath and he listened and charged his memory to retain all that was important. He grew in wisdom as he grew in stature. He observed life, and learned, and applied. In other words he was not born in possession of a complete body of information. Instead he was born with the mental equipment of a normal child; he experienced the usual stimuli and went through the ordinary processes of intellectual development.

“For he is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day like us he grew.”

As David’s Lord he also had supernatural knowledge. He knew the character of a man called Nathanael before he met him. He knew the woman of Samaria had had five husbands. He knew, long before he got to Bethany, that Lazarus was dead. He knew that inside the mouth of a certain fish would be a coin sufficient to pay the temple tax. He knew that there was a shoal of fish beside a boat in which the crew had toiled all night and caught nothing. He knew that when his disciples went to look for a room in which to hold the Passover they would be met by a man carrying a jar of water. Jesus had supernatural knowledge, and he came by it by divine revelation. He came to know as much as his Father was pleased to reveal to him. He knew the will of the Father because the Father revealed it to him. In principle this is no different from us except for this, that the Lord Christ was sinless and so his intellect was perfectly attuned to God. He talked with the Lord as himself the Lord. He reasoned as the Son of God reasons. He lived in a thought-world of pure revelation. God made himself known to Jesus in his thinking. But by taking a human brain he took certain limitations, of course. Here is the human brain; I can hold it in my hands, and then there is the infinite measureless mind of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. There were clear limitations to the knowledge possessed by the man Christ Jesus. But he was never ignorant of what he should have known. He knew all that he needed to know, and all that the church needed to know. The Father had shared with him as much about the mystery of redemption as Jesus needed to know. We don’t need to know the date of the end of the world, and so God did not make that information known to his Son.

The Lord Messiah had to submit to knowing dependently and knowing partially – like every true human being. He had to learn to obey without knowing all of the facts, and to walk by faith without having the total picture. He had to forego the comfort that omniscience gives. There were times when the Father’s love was eclipsed, when he lost the sense of his own Sonship, when he cried and there was no answer, when he entered the darkness and had to walk in it utterly alone. There he felt that he was only sin, and had been banished to outer darkness. He suffered as one who didn’t have all the answers and he had to ask God why. That was a reality that David’s Lord chose. He had to serve within the limitations of humankind.

iii] Thirdly, there is also this, that David’s Lord had all sinless human emotions. We are told of an occasion when he was full of joy through the Holy Spirit. He shared his joy with his disciples. He rejoiced in being with his Father, in knowing the Father’s love and help and presence. He delighted in the beauties of God’s creation, in doing the Father’s will in promoting the salvation of his people. He enjoyed the company of friends and company and conversation with those the Father had given him. There were some men with whom he was particularly close and one he loved dearly.

Our Lord knew blazing indignation evoked sometimes by human perversity and by the sheer scale of human tragedy. He had once healed a man whose hand was withered and the congregation was more concerned that this was the Sabbath day rather than the man’s life had been transformed. Jesus looked around at them in anger. He was deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts (Mk. 3:5). He was indignant at the disciples stopping mothers bringing their children to him. At the raising of Lazarus he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled by the spectacle of dear Mary, Lazarus’ sister and Jesus’ friend, so distressed and her friends weeping with her. “How evil is death,” Christ thought. Just for a moment his whole contemplation was taken up with the effects of sin and death and he was deeply moved in spirit. No one ever hated and feared death like the Lord Christ. He wept with Mary; he lamented over Jerusalem. He prayed with strong cryings and tears.

So often we thank God that we have been delivered from condemnation, but that is precisely because Christ took it upon himself and went, in our place, into outer darkness. He bears our sorrows, yes, but only because he bore our sins. He sympathises with us in the most acute of our emotional traumas, but only because he entered territory which most of us will never tread.

iv] Fourthly, David’s Lord came into our environment. Where David had his royal palace there the Messiah tabernacled. He dwelt among men like David had, and he, like David, was born in our low condition, where daily you meet temptation and live with the spectacle of those who have succumbed and the consequences of falling for their own lives, and ours. His mother was not a wealthy woman; you’d pass by that young woman in a street without a second glance. As a baby she put him to sleep in a manger in a barn – like some gypsy. David’s Lord was a refugee in Egypt for a few years. David’s Lord lived in obscurity in an insignificant group of little houses dignified with the name ‘Nazareth.’ He began his public ministry and soon he had no home of his own; he was always on the move. David’s Lord had no money to pay the temple tax. He had no place to celebrate Passover. He was considered to be a man without learning; he mixed with the common people. David’s Lord had a father who was a carpenter; he had a horde of brothers and sisters with whom he shared a close life. He had disciples whom he shepherded for some years. He met with the sort of people King David rarely met, lepers, prostitutes, religious fanatics and crooks. All around him were people experiencing pain and poverty, squalor and brutality, and he wasn’t isolated from it. He heard daily obscenities and profanities, the lamentation of the newly bereaved, the orphans and widows. David’s Lord didn’t live in sublime detachment from all that. For thirty-three years it surrounded him, in his crowded, busy, harassed, stressed and molested life. He did not have a summer place to retreat to; he had no financial capital guaranteeing his daily bread; he had no personal staff to protect him from the interruptions of life; he had no friends in high places to save him from injustice or to do him favours. It was from alongside us men that David’s Lord saved David and all other sinners.

3. THE MESSIAH’S THRONE IS AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND.

“The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet'” (v.36). This is describing a new phase in the ministry of the Son of God. Of course he had been in the beginning with God and so eternally had absolute authority. He was at the heart of the sovereignty of God. Of him and through him and to him were all things. He created everything, and he sustains all that he’d created. So what is this business here, of ‘being seated at God’s right hand’? It is, of course, in what the Son of God became, in his Messianic ministry as David’s Lord, that he is now seated there; this is the God-man; this is the ascended and exalted Messiah; this is the man Christ Jesus, his work of suffering for sin all over, who is now sitting at God’s right hand. This eminence is now bestowed by God the Father upon our Saviour after his obedience to death, even the death of the cross. Because of that obedience he has been given this name which is above every name.

He is there as the Lamb of God, as one who was slain, as the only one worthy to open the book of God’s plans and decrees for the world because he was the one alone who could purchase men by his blood. He takes the book and grips it and opens it. He turns its pages and takes the cosmos through all that is recorded there. Everything is written there. There is nothing in the entire universe that’s absent from its pages, nothing that has been – from the building of Stonehenge to the war in Iraq; there is nothing that is happening today – in an uninhab ited island in the Pacific to the hustle-bustle of London; there are no new experiences which are unrecorded there in that book. They all lie within the decree of King Jesus; they all lie within God’s great plan; this is his blueprint, his purpose, his determination. Everything is written in that scroll and Jesus opens it and administers it from God’s right hand. David’s Lord is the one who foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. His mind is the first thing; his mind is the last thing; his mind is the great thing. It underlies everything that happens in the universe; every explosion on the face of the sun; every sparrow that falls to the ground; every birth; every death; every marriage; every estrangement; every pleasure and every pain that men know, all the things that have lain hidden in the mind of God from eternity are written in the scroll and have all been committed to the Lord Christ for his administration. The government shall be upon his shoulder. That is what is now ruling the universe, determining its every movement and every change. He is the great Governor; he stands at the helm of the universe and he is guiding it to its ultimate destination. He is bringing this glorious cosmos to its eternal home.

Jesus Christ must have authority over everything if he is God the Son. I suppose that’s an appeal to logic, but you imagine what would happen to your prayer life if you thought that there were areas over which Christ had no power. What if there were some areas too great – “I can’t deal with outer space,” he might say. Or imagine if there were other things too small, too inconsequential for him to be even bothered with – atoms, chromosomes, germs, and viruses. Of what if there were areas that were simply too powerful for him? Satan’s kingdom and work, or the vaunted free will of man, things about which Jesus would say, “I’m helpless there. It’s all up to them. I’m just a spectator like you.” If that were the case we’d stop praying wouldn’t we? We’d turn into man manipulators and atmosphere creators; we’d have to grab their interest by hook or by crook and get them to make a decision. All we had was just them and us! Thank God it is never like that. Thank God there is no area of life over which Jesus is not the Lord of heaven and earth.

Jehovah says to David’s Jehovah, “I am going to seat you on my right hand because of the great work of redemption which you accomplished. Reign over everything, with all authority in heaven and on earth because that accomplished redemption of yours now needs to be applied to an innumerable company of sinners. Govern over everything in the world. Build your church. Work everything together for the good of your people. Pour out your gifts on men. Take control of heaven and earth and hell until the last sinner is saved and the end is come, and then present everything to me.” That is what Jesus is doing right now. He is the one who brought us here today to listen to these words, and he is doing the same for his people the whole world over. Then he’ll take us all through the days to come. The Lord is my Shepherd. That is how the gates of hell are resisted. David’s Lord has almost total sovereignty. Paul puts it magnificently in these words, “When it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him it is clear that doesn’t include God himself!” (I Cor. 15:27). All else, men, angels, atoms, galaxies – all except God the Father! – is at his command. Today God’s sovereignty is on the shoulders of Jesus.

That is the picture you see in the book of Revelation. The Lamb sits in the very centre of the throne, exactly where we’d expect to see God the Father. He is the centre-piece, and every form of existence is enthralled with him. The archangels cannot take their eyes off him; the seraphim are overwhelmed with him; the innumerable ranks of angels adore him; the spirits of just men made perfect – the general assembly and church of the firstborn written in heaven – all worship him. All cast their crowns before him. He is their life. The devils in hell are not allowed to ignore him for a moment. That is their anguish. Even the Holy Spirit hurries to do Christ’s bidding, constantly coming from heaven with saving power and sanctifying energy and gifts and graces to the whole church day and night. By the Spirit he gives eternal life to all those whom God has given to him. We know exactly when the Spirit began this work and where it was. It was at Pentecost in Jerusalem. There in royal David’s city the Lord Jesus began to pour forth the Spirit on the church, and ever since that time he has been pouring him forth abundantly. He sends forth the seven spirits of God into all the earth. His unlimited resources are all pledged to further the gospel.

Christians often convey the impression that the gospel is a poor, puny little thing, under- resourced and starved of all means. They are forgetting the Saviour is head over all things for the church. He can move heaven and earth for the sake of the gospel. Why are we to go into all the world? It is to take the news of the King to every land over which he reigns, to go to every empire with news of Christ. No place can keep us out, though they might try. How Islam trembles at the power of the Lord Jesus. With what brutal cruelty and bloody reprisals they will try to destroy his kingdom, but we will persevere in exalting our King everywhere, asking that every knee should bow before him and every tongue confess his name. The deaths of the martyrs who give their lives serving this King will fertilise the church’s mighty conquests. They will all be there in the last day, from every nation, and millions from the middle east casting their crowns at his feet. Satan is bound; he no longer has the Gentiles in thrall. They have become the inheritance of Christ. They belong to him by right. I serve a living risen Saviour. Who is at the right hand of God? The one of whom David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd.” David, the shepherd king, has a Lord who is now David’s shepherd, and he feeds him, and he never ceases to nourish and cherish him and us. He takes us to the living fountains of waters; “he leads me beside the still waters; he restoreth my soul.”

It is at God’s right hand that we are going to meet him, where it all began that is where we are going to be. He is going to take us to that place, to the throne of God, and he will show us the sovereign love of God as we have never seen it before. There is the place of fulness of joy. There will be pleasures at God’s right hand for evermore. There, at the fountain head of love, we will experience his love for evermore. There he will show us all the amazing grace of God, and that is where we’ll stay. We don’t understand it all yet. We don’t know it all yet. We haven’t experienced it all yet. We are merely coming to the end of the beginning, and that is all.

Finally God says to David’s Lord and Saviour, “I’m going to put your enemies under your feet” (v.36), and when he hears his Father say that Christ doesn’t protest, “No! I’m too loving for that sort of thing.” You know that God will never put them there out of malice. He does it only out of justice. He doesn’t gloat over human misery; he finds no fulfilment in revenge. He doesn’t want one person to be under Christ’s feet, he wants them all to be sharing Christ’s throne. The prospect of men being under Christ’s feet sets God’s heart beating. It arouses all his compassion. To save sinners he spared not his Son from the death of the Cross. He doesn’t now become a loveless tyrant, rather he cries, “Why do you make me do this?” Why will you perish? Why be his footstool when you can sit with him on the throne.

The cross of his Son is ever before him; the cry of Jesus, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” is ever ringing in his ears. He knew the hellish darkness and dereliction that his Son suffered when he was made sin for us, but God did not spare him. The claims of justice require the condemnation of all that defiles and destroys. The death of Christ is the proof that God will not spare. Golgotha is the demonstration of what hell involves, and Christ became the strongest preacher of hell. No one spoke more of hell than Jesus, not Moses, not John the Baptist, not Paul. I cannot be a Christian without believing as he believed. Who is speaking in the words of our text? Who is quoting approvingly from the Old Testament? It is Jesus who knows all about life after death, who came so that men would not perish, who laid down his life in so costly a way. He believed that many would be under his feet, and because he believed that he came to ensure that not all would be condemned. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came and he acted because he believed it.

Had Jesus not warned the Pharisees in the strongest clearest language? At the very beginning of his ministry he preached the Sermon on the Mount to his disciples and he told them of a day when he would separate all the world into the sheep and the goats saying to some, “Come you blessed people!” and to others, “Depart from me!” To where will they depart? Where will Annas and Caiaphas be, those chief priests who bribed witnesses to lie about him, and condemned Jesus of Nazareth to be nailed to a cross until he was dead? When will be the mob who mocked him as he suffered, those men who never repented? Where will Nero be who covered some Christians with pitch and set them alight as human torches? Where will those men be who shot a woman in the head on video last month, and cut off men’s heads on video in Iraq? Where will the torturer and rapist and blasphemer be when he breathes his last? Where will you be? Where will I be? Will I be a footstool for Christ’s feet? Or will I be sitting on the throne with him?

You have no right to refuse the deliverance I am offering you. There is a great work to be done. There is great honour to be given to the Son of God. You have no right to be Christ’s footstool. If that is your destination you are there because you trampled on the Son of God. You say, “I have been such a miserable sinner. I hate myself. I deserve to go to hell.” I say to you, “No human being has the right to be the footstool of Christ.” You have no right to choose that as your destination. You need to be saved from that. You can be saved from that, and you can be with this same Christ. He is the one who experienced hell, who experienced being under the foot of sinners and demons. He was crucified that you might not go be crushed as his footstool but sit with him in the midst of the throne. There are some men who will look defiantly today at this horrible footstool, all these sinners with Christ’s foot on their necks. You will look defiantly at that and not change, but who can look defiantly at the bleeding man Jesus hanging on the cross. The one there is Jehovah Jesus, great David’s greater Son. He is here inviting you to come today and own him as your Saviour. Come share his throne and enter his love.

5th December 2005 GEOFF THOMAS