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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus

Don Stewart :: Why Was Jesus Called the Son of David?

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Why Was Jesus Called the Son of David?

What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus – Question 34

In Scripture, we find that God had promised David, the first rightful king of Israel, that his throne would be established forever. The Bible records this promise of God as follows:

“For when you die, I will raise up one of your descendants, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 NLT)

One of David’s descendants would rule over the nation.

The Son of David Was a Title for the Messiah

This caused the people to long to see David’s greater son; the one who would rule forever. Therefore, the “Son of David” was a title for the promised Messiah. In the New Testament, we discover that people recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of David, or the Messiah.

1. Matthew Said Jesus Was David’s Descendant

Matthew begins his gospel by linking Jesus to David.

Indeed, he calls Jesus the son of David in the very first sentence of his gospel. The opening reads as follows:

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1 KJV)

Jesus descended from David. This means that He was from the right family line.

2. Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem: The City of David

The Scripture also makes it clear that Jesus was born in David’s city, Bethlehem. Matthew records it as follows:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1, 2 NKJV)

Jesus was born in the exact same city that the Messiah was supposed to be born. In other words, He was born into the right family as well as in the right city. Therefore, He had the proper credentials to be called “David’s Son.”

3. Many People Called Jesus the Son of David

There were people who recognized Jesus as the “Son of David.” We find that six times in the Gospel of Matthew people called Jesus the “Son of David.” The evidence is as follows.

Two Blind Men Recognized Jesus’ Identity

Matthew notes that there were two blind men who wanted to be healed. Consequently they followed Jesus and called out to Him for their healing. Matthew wrote,

When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 9:27 NKJV)

They were asking the Son of David, the Messiah, for healing.

The Crowd Wondered if Jesus Could Be David’s Son

On another occasion, after Jesus had performed a miraculous healing, the crowd wondered if Jesus could be David’s Son. Matthew writes these words:

And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:23 NKJV)

This expressed their interest in His identity. Was Jesus the promised Messiah?

A Gentile Woman Used This Title of Jesus

A Canaanite woman who wanted her daughter healed used this title of Jesus. We read the following account:

Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” (Matthew 15:22 NRSV)

While this woman was a Gentile, and not a Jew, she still used the title of the Promised Jewish Messiah in addressing Jesus.

Two Blind Men in Jericho Called Him Son of David

In the town of Jericho, two blind men called out to Jesus as He was passing by their way. Matthew records what occurred in this manner:

There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” (Matthew 20:30 NRSV)

They too were calling on Jesus as the Messiah when using the title “Son of David.”

Jesus Was Called the Son of David during the Triumphal Entry

When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people acknowledged Him as the “Son of David.” We read in Matthew,

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9 NRSV)

This response is extremely significant. Jesus rode into the city on a donkey. This particular act was something which the coming Messiah was to do.

4. Jesus Acknowledged He Was the Son of David

The religious leaders were angry at the crowd for the recognition of Jesus as the Son of David. We find that Jesus, instead of rebuking them, encouraged this response. Matthew records what happened as follows:

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant; and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise’?” (Matthew 21:15, 16 RSV)

Again, we have the recognition of the people that Jesus was the Son of David, the promised Messiah. We also find Jesus, for the first time, publicly acknowledging this title.

This Was Clearly a Messianic Title

The Son of David was, therefore, a messianic title. Jesus called this to the attention of the religious rulers. Matthew writes about a question which Jesus asked them:

“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:42-46 NIV)

In this discussion Jesus points out to these religious rulers that the Messiah not only is the Son of David, David also calls Him “Lord.” In other words, even David recognizes that his greater Son will be superior to him. In doing this, Jesus is claiming to be greater that King David Himself. His questioning of the religious leaders caused them to become silent as well as to ask Him no further questions.

In sum, Jesus was indeed the promised Son of David, the Messiah of Israel. Not only did certain people acknowledge it, Jesus Himself accepted the title.

Summary – Question 34
Why Was Jesus Called the Son of David?

In the Old Testament, we find that King David was promised that one of his offspring would rule forever as King. This caused the people to look for this coming Deliverer, or Messiah. Among the other titles he would have, the Messiah would be the “Son of David.”

We find from the gospels that Jesus was called this promised “Son of David.” Matthew begins his genealogy by showing that Jesus was a descendant of King David. He was born in the right family. Furthermore, Matthew records that Jesus was born in the predicted place, the city of Bethlehem. Thus, Jesus was born in David’s family and in David’s city.

There is still more. The Gospel of Matthew records that various people, on six different occasions, acknowledged Jesus as the Son of David. In other words, they were calling Him the Messiah. This includes several blind men, the multitudes, and a Gentile woman.

In fact, on Palm Sunday, when the religious leaders wanted Jesus to rebuke the crowd for using this title of Him, Jesus rebuked them! He then went on to acknowledge that He was indeed the promised Son of David. He received the praise and worship of the people.

Jesus then pointed out to the religious rulers that the Messiah was David’s Son, but that David also called Him, “Lord.” Consequently, Jesus was claiming to be greater than David.

Therefore, from the evidence available, Jesus recognized that He was the promised One, the Son of David.

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