Sermon Summary and Discussion Questions | "The Question of the Day"
Jesus Gives the Question of the Day
Earlier in the day, the religious leaders assailed Jesus with various quesitons. For instance, the Pharisees and Herodians asked a question pertaining to taxes (Mk. 12:13-17), the Sadducees interrogated concerning the resurrection (Mk. 12:18-27), and a Scribe inquired about the law (Mk. 12:28-34). However, after a day of questions, Jesus asks the question of the day—a question of the most importance. Interestingly, Jesus’ question is given as a sort of riddle. It is a messianic riddle that functions to reveal the nature of his identity as the Messiah and Son of God.
The Messianic Riddle (Mk. 12:35-37a; Ps. 110)
In this particular historical context, the atmosphere is filled with a messianic anticipation. There was a strong hope for a future king from the lineage of David that would come to restore God’s kingdom on earth (Isa 9; cf. 2 Sam 7; Ps 2; 110). Moreover, many seemed to believe that Jesus was this Davidic king. As he arrived in Jerusalem, people hailed him as the “son of David,” who is ushering in God’s kingdom (cf. Mk. 11:1-10; Ps.118; 148). But despite their confession of Jesus’ Davidic kingship, their expectations of the messiah were much to ordinary. They were anticipating a warrior-king who would arrive with national priority, military power, and political prowess. This vision of their messianic hope was insufficient.
Jesus’ inquiry, however, presents a messianic riddle from Psalm 110 that clarifies the identity of the messiah. In this psalm there is a dialogue between the Lord God and a second lord, the messiah from David’s line (“The Lord said to my Lord...”). This presents a conundrum: How could the great king David speak of his son, the future messiah, as his lord? How can David’s son be lord over David? This conundrum of a messianic (kingly) figure is that he is not only David’s son, but also his lord. The connection between Jesus as the son of David and Lord is important. Jesus just finished responding to the scribe about the greatest command in the law. His response was that a person should love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thus, Jesus applies the most important command in the law to himself. Getting in the kingdom involves recognizing Jesus as “the Lord your God” (cf. Mk.12:29). He is not merely the son of David and a political messiah, but he is the very Son of God.
Response for Christian and Non-Christian Readers (Application)
The claim that Jesus is the Son of God has implications for both Christians and non-Christians:
For Non-Christians—Undoubtedly, there are probably a lot of questions that a non-Christian has about God. But in this passage we see that Jesus has a question for those who don’t believe in him. Who is Jesus to you? Is he merely a son of David (i.e., a man), or is he the Son of God (i.e., Lord)? Jesus challenges all his hearers to respond by receiving him as the Lord of your life.
For Christians—The confession that Jesus is Lord is central to the Christian confession. This riddle that Jesus poses from Psalm 110 challenges Christians to recapture a vision of Jesus’ lordship over all things. Jesus is Lord—and not merely our “role-model” or “teacher” or “friend.” Thus, we are to love the Lord Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As our Lord he deserves all obedience and submission in every aspect of our lives.
The Messianic Riddle that Quietly Anticipates Redemption
Although Jesus responds to all of the questions previously given earlier in the day, his final question is a rather discrete. Through the riddle of Psalm 110, Jesus quietly reveals his identity as the messianic-king of David. But why quietly? Why not loudly? Why did Jesus decide to subtly reveal his identity through a subversive riddle? The loud announcement of his identity is reserved for a different day—namely, the day when he is crucified at Calvary. This announcement that affirms his messianic identity will be given by a Gentile Centurion—“Truly, this man was the Son of God” (Mk.15:39). Therefore, the messianic riddle of Mk. 12:35-57 is a prelude that quietly anticipates the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God, who brings redemption through his death and resurrection.
At the end of his sermon, C.J. mentioned how this messianic riddle that Jesus poses from Psalm 110 challenges both the Christian and non-Christian:
1. For Christians, this passage challenges us to recapture a vision of Jesus’ lordship over all things. Therefore, how might your life look different by submitting every aspect of your life (e.g., relationships, finances, work, hobbies, etc.) under the lordship of Christ? In other words, what would it look like to love Jesus as Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength in the way we work and rest? What are some practical ways that we, as a small group, can live life together under Jesus’ lordship?
2. For non-Christians, this passage challenges them to reflect on Jesus’ messianic identity and to receive him as Lord. Who are particular people in your life that need to hear this? Who can we, as a small group, pray for and reach out to in our lives?
[by Andrew Preston]