While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,…
The often quoted question, "What think ye of Christ?" should be, "What think ye of the Christ?" Jesus was not asking the Pharisees for an opinion about himself, the speaker addressing them, as he had asked his disciples on a previous occasion (Matthew 16:13). He was referring to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah, and without now pressing his own claim to be the Messiah, he was asking what idea the Pharisees had as to this great Hope of Israel. They had been questioning him; he now turns upon them with a penetrating inquiry.
I. THERE IS TESTIMONY TO THE CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. Jesus quotes ancient prophecy. It may be said that he would thus find an argumentum ad hominem when arguing with a Jew. But it is evident that our Lord appealed to the Old Testament as to an authority which he himself valued. Thus he gives his own authority to support the Divine message of the prophets, and he justifies us in searching these Scriptures for the testimony they bear concerning him (John 5:39). The value of the Old Testament in this respect is not that it shows how certain men were gifted with a miraculous foresight, by means of which they predicted the advent and life of Christ. This would be interesting chiefly as throwing light on the powers of the prophets, but it would not be of much practical use to us. We may see the Old Testament setting forth important truths about Christ. It foreshadows in a way to prepare the reader for understanding Christ. Thus it has its own gospel message.
II. THE OLD TESTAMENT TESTIFIES TO THE DIVINE GLORY OF THE CHRIST. Jesus selects one striking instance of this specific testimony. Psalm 110. plainly represents the Messiah as greater than David, for, while written in the name of the king, it yet makes the founder of the Jewish dynasty address his descendant as "my Lord." This argument holds good, whether we believe the psalm to have been composed by the shepherd-king, or follow the recent criticism that rejects its Davidic authorship. For even in the latter case, it is plain that the inspired writer of the psalm taught that the Messiah was to be so much greater than his famous ancestor that it would be seemly for David to address him as "my Lord." This truth, then, was in the Old Testament. Yet those who most honoured their ancient Scriptures did not perceive it. We need the Spirit of Christ to help us to understand the prophecies of Christ.
III. OUR LORD GAVE THE HIGHEST INTERPRETATION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES OF THE CHRIST. This tact is important in itself, as a light on the prophecies. But it is much more weighty when we consider it in relation to Jesus himself. We know that he claimed to be the Messiah, although he did not make that claim public till the end of his life. Therefore his interpretation of prophecy must be applied to his thought about himself. He was calm, unselfish, unambitious, lowly in heart and life. Yet he argued for the very highest attributes of the Name which he knew to be his own. Was he not speaking out of the depth of his self-consciousness? If he used such words as are here before us, he could not have been satisfied with being regarded as only a man. In veiled language to the Jews, but in language that is open as the day to us, Jesus claims to be Divine, and his character, his life, and his work all agree with his unique claim. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,