Jesus did something that scared the living daylights out of His critics. Do you know how? Was it with a startling miracle? A demonstration of mighty power? Neither. He did it with a question! Jesus asked a question that frightened them and shut them up for good. Like all good mousetraps, Jesus’ question seemed safe and simple at first.
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied.” (Matthew 22:41-42)
This looked like an easy volleyball lob for a return spike. These guys were experts on the Scripture. They knew all the answers. And this one was easy. They all knew that the Christ would be the son, or the descendant, of David. You can almost see the cynical and triumphant look on their faces as they easily answered Jesus’ question.
But then Jesus’ trap was sprung!
“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 22:43-46 – my emphases)
Whap!!! Question is, what was it about this seemingly innocuous exchange that was so frightening to them? Maybe this:
- These self-proclaimed experts in the Scripture suddenly saw that there is more going on in God’s Word than they understood. They didn’t know all the answers. The Scriptures were written from God’s vantage point, not the limited and comparatively ignorant vantage point of humans. To be confronted with this is humbling and frightening. Especially for “scholars.”
- Jesus trusted the actual words written in the Bible. He didn’t pick and choose, as they did, according to what seemed right. He accepted the words as they were written, even when those words didn’t conform with human, common sense.
- Jesus knew that when the Scriptures were written, the human authors were “speaking by the Spirit” of God.
- Because they could not refute what He said, the Pharisees began to suspect that the One with whom they were speaking was:
- The Lord
- The Messiah or Christ
- Qualified to sit at the right hand of God
- Would ultimately dominate all His enemies
When the rug is pulled out from under the things we think we know, it can be very scary. Even more so when you cannot explain away the new insights. The smart thing to do, despite your fear, is to re-evaluate your assumptions, looking carefully and thoughtfully into the things that have frightened you. Such as what it says in the Bible. That’s not what Jesus’ critics did. They decided to kill Him.