At the end of chapter 11, we saw how the chief priests and the teachers of the law and the elders came to the Lord Jesus and they questioned his authority. They said to him:
Who gave you the authority to do the things you’re doing?
And then in chapter 12 we read how the Pharisees and Herodians came to him with a question about paying taxes to Caesar, because they wanted to catch him in his words; they wanted him to stay something incriminating which they could use against him. And then the Sadducees came to him with a question about the resurrection; but they didn’t come to learn from him, but to argue with him. And then we read how one of the teachers of the law came to him with a question about the greatest commandment. Now, the teacher of the law didn’t question the Lord’s authority as the others did; nor did he try to catch the Lord in his words; and he didn’t come to argue with the Lord. Nevertheless there was a sense in which the teacher of the law saw himself as standing over the Lord Jesus to judge him. The teacher of the law saw himself as the expert; and he came to test the Lord Jesus’s knowledge. He was standing over the Lord Jesus to judge him.
And each of these passages reveals something of the opposition which the Lord Jesus encountered while he was on the earth, because all these people came either to trap the Lord or to argue with him or to judge him. And so these passages reveal to us how an unbelieving world despises and dishonours the Son of God. Instead of trying to trap him in his words, they ought to have bowed before the Lord Jesus and worshipped him as God. And instead of arguing with him, they should have believed in him. Instead of standing over him in judgment, they should have fallen down before him and asked him for mercy and forgiveness.
And, of course, it’s the same today, because instead of believing in the Lord and worshipping him, men and women and boys and girls refuse to bow before him or to submit to him as their Lord. Instead of humbly confessing their sins, and asking for his forgiveness, they despise and reject him. Because of the hardness of the human heart, men and women and boys and girls refuse to submit to Christ the King. But what we all need to do, what we all need to do, is to bow before the Lord Jesus and confess him as our Lord and God and Saviour. Whoever does not believe in him will be condemned when he comes to judge the living and the dead; but whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but will receive from him forgiveness for their sins and the free gift of eternal life. And so, if you have not yet believed, I say to you: Stop doubting and believe, because everyone who believes in Christ the King will be saved.
After being questioned by all these different people, the Lord in today’s verses turns the tables, doesn’t he? Instead of answering questions, he’s asking the questions. And so we read that while he was in the temple, he asked the people:
How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David?
So, that’s his question.
Now, the teachers of the law, or the scribes, were meant to be the experts in the law. They knew the Scriptures from front to back and from back to front and inside out. They knew all about the law; and if you wanted to know anything about the law, or how to interpret it, you went to one of the teachers of the law for answers. But here’s the Lord Jesus, turning the tables on them, questioning their understanding of God’s law. He wants to know:
Why do the teachers of the law say that the Christ is David’s son?
And then the Lord went on to quote from Psalm 110 to demonstrate what he meant by his question. Notice — and this is really an aside — notice how he introduces the quotation from the Psalm. He refers to David as the author of the Psalm; but he also adds that David wrote the Psalm by means of the Holy Spirit. Do you see that in verse 36? The Lord said:
David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared….
You see, this is why we refer to the Bible as the word of God. It’s the word of God because — although it was written by men like David and Moses and Isaiah and Daniel in the Old Testament and Luke and John and Paul in the New Testament, nevertheless those men wrote what they wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enabled them to write what they wrote, so that what they wrote is in fact the word of God. ‘All Scripture is God-breathed’, as Paul puts it in 2 Timothy; it’s breathed out, inspired by him. And therefore, since the Bible is God’s word, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we all ought to receive it and believe it and obey it. Instead of disregarding it, and leaving our Bibles on the bookshelf, or leaving them unread on the bedside table, we ought to take the Bible and read it, because this is God’s word to us; and this is how he makes himself known to us; and this is how he reveals his will to us.
But that’s just an aside. Back now to Mark 12: What did David declare under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Well, he declared the words which the Lord quotes in verse 36:
The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’
Let me paraphrase those words slightly so you get the point the Lord Jesus is making. David said:
The Lord God Almighty said to my Lord (who is the Christ): ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’
So, the Lord Jesus’s question is: Why do the teachers of the law say the Christ is David’s son when David himself refers to the Christ as his Lord? David doesn’t refer to the Christ as his son, but as his Lord. According to Psalm 110, the Christ is actually David’s Lord.
That’s the question. But what point is the Lord making? Well, we need to understand what the word ‘Christ’ means.
Many of you will know that the word ‘Christ’ or ‘Christos’ is a Greek word. The Hebrew equivalent is the word ‘Messiah’. In English it means ‘Anointed’ or ‘Anointed One’. Now, in the days of the Old Testament, certain men were anointed with oil; and they were anointed with oil as a sign of how God was setting them apart and equipping them for a special kind of work. What kind of special work? Well, priests were anointed with oil and set apart to serve the Lord in the temple. Sometimes prophets were anointed with oil and set apart to preach the word of the Lord. But most of all, kings were anointed with oil and set apart to rule over God’s people on God’s behalf. So, priests, prophets and kings were anointed with oil to signify that God has chosen them for a special work.
Now, although we read that priests, prophets and kings were anointed with oil, the actual term ‘Anointed One’ doesn’t appear very often in the Old Testament. You’ll find it in the Psalms and in a few other places, but it’s not used very often. However, when the title ‘Anointed One’ appears, it always refers to the King. For instance, you find it in Psalm 2, where it says:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed.
God’s Anointed One is his king.
It’s clear too from the Lord’s words in Mark 12 that the teachers of the law believed that Psalm 110 was also about the Lord’s Anointed King. The word ‘Anointed’ doesn’t appear in Psalm 110, but Psalm 110 is about the coronation of the king, when God invites his Anointed King to take his throne and to wait for his enemies to be destroyed.
Now, if you know your Bible history, you’ll know that there were many Old Testament kings. Saul was the first one. He was replaced by David, who was regarded as the greatest king, because he defeated the Philistines and all the rest of his enemies; and he settled the people in the Promised Land so that under David’s rule, the people lived in peace and safety. He built a great palace in Jerusalem and made plans for the construction of the temple. David was regarded as the greatest king; and God promised him that his kingdom would endure for ever, because there would always be one of David’s descendants on the throne. And sure enough, after David died, his son, Solomon, became king. And every new king after Solomon, was descended from David so that the kingdom was always ruled over by one of David’s descendants.
Some of those kings were good; many of them were wicked; none of them was perfect. Furthermore, between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, the land of Israel had been taken over by the Romans. The Romans ruled over God’s people; so the land of Israel had become part of the Roman Empire; and the Roman Emperor was now their king.
But the people remembered God’s promise to David that David’s kingdom would endure for ever and that one of his descendant would always be king. And so, the people began to long for the time when the Lord God would send them a new king, someone descended from David, and someone like David who would do what David did and would destroy their enemies and let them live in freedom and in safety once again. The people remembered God’s promise and they longed for the day when this new king would arrive.
And from the Lord’s words in Mark 12, we learn that the teachers of the law had been teaching the people that this new Anointed King who was coming into the world would be descended from David. He would be the son of David.
That’s the background to the Lord’s question. The people were waiting for God to send a new Anointed King who would be descended from David and who would destroy their enemies and set them free from their oppressors.
Everything we’re read about the Lord Jesus up to now in Mark’s gospel has made clear that he’s the Christ, God’s Anointed King. By the things he taught and by the miracles he performed, he revealed that he had come from God and that he’s the Great Anointed King. So, when he taught in the synagogues, the people were amazed by the authority with which he taught them. And he demonstrated that he has authority over nature when he commanded the wind and the waves to be silent. And he demonstrated that he has authority over demons, when he cast out evil spirits. He demonstrated that he has authority over sickness when he healed the sick easily. And he demonstrated that he has authority over death when he restored to life Jairus’s daughter who had died. Again and again and again, he demonstrated that he had come from God and that he was God’s Anointed King with all the power and authority that he needed to save God’s people.
And sure enough, when he asked his disciples who they believed him to be, Peter answered and said:
You’re the Christ. Your God’s Anointed King.
And when he rode into Jerusalem, the people with him made clear that they believed he was God’s Anointed King, because they shouted:
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David.
And so they welcomed him into Jerusalem as their King.
God’s Anointed King
But what kind of king is he? And where is his throne? You see, that’s the point of his question in these verses. The people were expecting the coming king to be the son of David. Therefore they were expecting someone who would be like David. And what did David do? Well, he set up his throne in Jerusalem and he led his armies into battle against the Philistines. That’s what David did; and the people were expecting the coming king to be just like David and to set up his throne in Jerusalem and to lead his armies into battle against the Romans. That’s what the people were expecting at that time.
But though the Lord Jesus is God’s Anointed King, and though he was in fact descended from David, nevertheless he is much, much more than David’s son, because he’s also David’s Lord. And he’s David’s Lord because he’s the Eternal Son of God. Furthermore, he’s a very different kind of king from David, and his kingdom is very different from David’s kingdom. When David was king, his throne was in Jerusalem. But where is the Lord’s throne? Well, look at verse 36 and the quotation from Psalm 110 because it makes clear that the Lord’s throne is not in Jerusalem, and it’s not anywhere here on earth, because his throne is in heaven. He is enthroned at God’s right hand in heaven.
And David ruled over the land of Israel, but the Lord Jesus rules and reigns over all. So, do you remember what he said at the end of Matthew’s gospel? He said:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
And the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians wrote that the Lord Jesus is now seated in heaven, far above all authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given; and God has placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything. David ruled over the land of Israel, but Christ the Anointed King rules over the heavens and the earth; he rules over all.
And David defeated the Philistines. They were his enemies and he led his armies into battle against them and against the other nations. But who or what are Christ’s enemies? Well, there’s Satan, isn’t there? The reason the Lord came into the world was to destroy the works of the Devil and to set his people free from the tyranny of the Devil who had held them captive to do his will.
And then there’s sin; that’s another of Christ’s enemies. The Lord Jesus came into the world to deliver his people from the penalty of sin. On the cross, he took the blame for us and he suffered in our place the penalty we deserve for our sins. So, he came to deliver his people from the penalty of sin. And he also delivers us from the power of sin, because on the third day, he was raised from the dead; and he sends his Spirit into our lives to break the power of sin in us, so that we become more and more willing and able to resist sin and to do God’s will. So, Christ the Anointed King came to destroy sin.
And then, there’s death. The Lord Jesus, God’s Anointed King, came into the world to conquer death. He conquered death whenever he rose victorious from the grave. And when he comes again, death will have to give up all of its victims and he will raise his people from their graves so that they will live with him in body and in soul for ever and for ever.
David was a king who defeated the Philistines; but the Lord Jesus, God’s Anointed King, came to defeat Satan and sin and death. But, of course, we need to remember as well that the day is coming when Christ the King will come again. And when he comes again, in glory and with power, he’ll come to defeat all his enemies in the world who did not believe in him and who remained outside of his kingdom. The way to enter his kingdom is through repentance and faith, because whoever turns from their sin in repentance and trusts in Christ as the only Saviour of the world is added to his kingdom where there is forgiveness and peace with God and the hope of everlasting life. But all those who refuse to repent and who do not believe in the Saviour and who do not yield their lives to him will one day be judged and condemned by him. And so, when he comes again, he will defeat all his enemies in the world who refused to believe in him and who remained his enemies.
And since this is true, I say to you again: Repent while there is still time and believe in Jesus Christ the Saviour. Turn from your sins in repentance. Ask the Saviour to forgive you. Repent and believe so that you will not be condemned when he comes, but will live with him for ever.
David’s throne was in Jerusalem, but Christ’s throne is in heaven. David ruled over Israel, but Christ rules over all. David defeated the Philistines, but Christ has defeated Satan, and sin and death and one day he will destroy all those who do not believe in him. Next, David extended his kingdom by leading his armies into battle, using swords and spears and force. His kingdom was an earthly kingdom and it was extended by earthly means. With a sling and a stone he knocked Goliath down; and with a sword he cut off the giant’s head. But Christ’s kingdom is a heavenly kingdom; it’s a spiritual kingdom. And therefore it grows, not by earthly means, but by spiritual means. It’s extended not by sword and spear, but by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It grows through the preaching of the gospel.
Now to many, the preaching of the gospel seems weak and foolish and people will always be tempted to look for what they consider greater and more powerful and more effective means to extend Christ’s kingdom throughout the world. But instead of relying on the wisdom of the world, we’re to rely on the wisdom of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and we’re to rely on the Holy Spirit who makes use of the preaching of the gospel to convince and convert sinners to faith in Christ so that they’re added to Christ’s kingdom. Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom; and his kingdom grows throughout the world by spiritual means and not be earthly means.
And the final thing to say today is this: Christ’s kingdom will not fail. We sometimes worry about the future of the church, especially in these days when the church seems so small and it’s despised by the world and very few people respond to the preaching of the gospel. We worry about the church. But look again at the words of the Psalm which the Lord quotes in verse 36. According to the psalmist, the Lord God Almighty said to Christ the Lord:
Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.
In other words, Christ the King will continue to rule and reign from heaven until all his enemies are defeated. His enemies cannot succeed, but they’re destined to perish. And until the day comes when they’re destroyed, Christ the King will continue to reign in heaven. And so, his kingdom cannot fail. Despite the wicked schemes of the Devil, despite the hardness of the human heart, despite the unbelief of so many, despite our own weaknesses and failures, Christ’s kingdom will not fail; it will not perish; it will not fall. It’s an everlasting kingdom. And so, we can always look forward with confidence and hope, because the future of the church and of Christ’s kingdom is assured, because Christ our King will reign forever.