The Lord and My Lord: Matthew 22:41-46

Focus Passage: Matthew 22:41-46 (GW)

41 While the Pharisees were still gathered, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They answered him, “David’s.”

43 He said to them, “Then how can David, guided by the Spirit, call him Lord? David says,

44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
    “Take the honored position—the one next to me [God the Father] on the heavenly throne
        until I put your enemies under your control.”’

45 If David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?”

46 No one could answer him, and from that time on no one dared to ask him another question.

Read Matthew 22:41-46 in context and/or in other translations on!

Right in the middle of Jesus’ counter challenge is a quotation from the Psalms that has always fascinated me. Perhaps it is intended to be a little more confusing or challenging to understand, because when I read it quoted in Jesus’ words, I wonder who is referred to by the two uses of the word “Lord”.

In the quotation, we read, “The Lord said to my Lord” (v. 44 referencing Psalm 110:1)

In the Greek version of the New Testament, both words for Lord are the same word, and perhaps this was a language barrier, because in the original Hebrew psalm, David uses different words for each of these references to “Lord”. One of the biggest challenges for translators is communicating the idea of words between languages when there is no word that fits or captures the same meaning as is in the original language that is being translated from. Perhaps it was this way with the Hebrew going into Greek, because two unique words for “Lord” are blended into one word.

However, if we look closer at the two Hebrew words for Lord, we see something interesting.

The first “Lord” (“The Lord said . . .”) always refers to God – it is His proper name given in the Bible.

The second “Lord” (“. . . to my Lord”) refers to a master or one responsible for another. This “Lord” is used when humbly and respectfully addressing a superior – and there are numerous examples of Old Testament people who address God using this term.

So with this understanding, we see God, humbly addressing the Messiah, and calling Him to “Take the honored position—the one next to me [God the Father] on the heavenly throne until I put your enemies under your control.” (v. 44 referencing Psalm 110:1)

What on the surface appears to be God addressing David is really God addressing David’s Son (the Messiah) and calling Him to sit in the place of honor on the heavenly throne. While David had enemies, Jesus did too. David conquered his enemies prior to his death, but Jesus conquered His enemy by facing death head on. Jesus offered up His life to gain His victory – which allows for us to share in His victory too!

In this passage, we see a glimpse of God’s humility. God humbly acknowledges the Messiah, who stepped down from Heaven to be a human, and who also stepped down into death in order to give humanity the option of salvation. Everything in this passage points towards a humble God who places others ahead of Himself, and who wants to be close to humanity!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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