Part 4 - What does it mean that Jesus is the “son of David”?

This Article is part of a multi-part Study Series called The Identity of Jesus.

How could Jesus be the “son of David” if David lived approximately 1,000 years before Jesus? The answer is that Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the “seed of David” and the coming eternal Kingdom.

“And when thy days (David’s days) be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I (the Lord) will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son…” (2 Samuel 7:12-14a)

Jesus is the promised Messiah, which means He had to be of the lineage of David. Matthew chapter 1 gives us genealogical proof that Jesus, in His humanity, was a direct descendant of Abraham and David through Joseph, Jesus’ legal father. But also, the genealogy in Luke 3 traces Jesus’ lineage through His mother, Mary. So, Jesus is a descendant of David by adoption through Joseph, and by blood through Mary.

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh (humanly);” (Romans 1:3).

Seventeen verses in the New Testament describe Jesus as the “son of David.” Ten of these are in Matthew, where we see Jesus is seen as the prophesied “King of Israel.” His lineage that begins in Matthew 1:1 is noteworthy in that it traces back only to King David. Thus, He then is seen as the faithful prophesied, long-awaited, blessed “King of Israel.” Matthew’s lineage of Jesus of Nazareth is to be compared with His lineage as seen in Luke 3, which represents His humanity, being traced back through Mary to the first man, Adam. By these two lineage accounts we see both Jesus’ Divinity as the “Son of God” destined to be “the King of the Kings” and also His humanity as the suffering “Son of man.”

The title “Son of David” is more than a statement of physical genealogy. It is Jesus’ Messianic title. When people referred to Jesus as the “Son of David,” they meant that He was the long-awaited Deliverer, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Jesus was addressed as “Lord, thou son of David” several times by people who, by faith, were seeking mercy or healing. The woman whose daughter was being tormented by a demon (Matthew 15:22) and the two blind men by the wayside (Matthew 20:30) all cried out to Jesus as the “Son of David” for help. The titles of honor they gave Him declared their faith in Him. Calling Him “Lord” expressed their sense of His deity, dominion, and power, and calling Him “Son of David,” expressed their faith that He was the Messiah.

The Pharisees understood exactly what the people meant when they called Jesus “Son of David.” But, unlike those who cried out in faith, the Pharisees were so blinded by their own pride and lust for power that they couldn’t see what the blind beggars could see—that here was the Messiah they had supposedly been waiting for all their lives. They hated Jesus because He wouldn’t give them the honor they thought they deserved, so when they heard the people hailing Jesus as the Savior, they became enraged (Matthew 21:15) and plotted to destroy Him (Luke 19:47). Many religious leaders today are as corrupt and self-seeking as the religious leaders were in Jesus’ day, not recognizing or accepting the Lord as Lord.

Jesus further confounded Israel’s scribes and Pharisees of His day by asking them to explain the meaning of the title “Son of David”; He asked them how it could be that the Messiah is “the son of David” when David himself refers to Him as “my Lord” (see Mark 12:35–37; cf. Psalm 110:1)? These teachers of the Law couldn’t answer Jesus’ question. Jesus thereby exposed the Jewish leaders’ ineptitude as teachers and their ignorance of what the Old Testament taught as to the true nature of the Messiah, further alienating them from Him. Jesus’ point in asking the question of Mark 12:35 was that the Messiah is more than the physical “son of David.” The point was; if He is David’s Lord, He must be greater than David (cf. v37).

As Jesus says in Revelation 22:16, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David.” Thus, He as creator is the (root) of David and… while lineally, He is the Descendant (offspring) of David. Only the very “Son of God” made flesh could say such a thing.