Be joyful in HOPE,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s
people who are in need.
Romans 12:12-13

4th Sunday in Advent – 2023

Prayer: O God, give us ears to hear Your Word and believe it, and eyes of faith to see that Jesus truly is Your Son and our Savior from sin and death. Amen.
Sermon Text, St. Mark 12:35-37. 35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ 37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his [David’s] Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.
Lord, this is Your Word and these are Your words. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Dear people loved by God in Christ: Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
These few verses take up the question, “Who Is Jesus?” A good question on this morning of Christmas Eve. It seems like an easy answer to us.
But this is not a Christmas account; Mark’s gospel, which we’re hearing sermons from this year, doesn’t include the Christmas story. Instead this is where Jesus is teaching in the temple during Holy Week, the week He was crucified. Jesus isn’t teaching in a respectful classroom-type setting. He’s being tested, challenged, by people who don’t believe in Him and want to discredit Him. Here it’s the Pharisees.
In most of these cases, Jesus is put on the defensive. He has to answer their question. But now Jesus goes on the offensive. They have to answer His question. He says: “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then [David’s] Son?”
Notice that they can’t answer Him. Jesus silences them. It’s the end of their attacks on Him until His betrayal and arrest.
But it’s not really that they can’t answer Him. They won’t. The right answer to His question would show that Jesus really is the Christ, the true Messiah. They don’t want that to be the answer. They don’t believe it. Their silence does answer the question; it’s saying, “We do not believe that You are He.”
So what is Jesus’ question and what answer is He looking for? What’s all this about “David’s Son and David’s Lord?”
Jesus is quoting Psalm 110:1. It’s a psalm written by David. It’s also a prophecy of Christ and His ascension. God the Father says to His Son: “Sit at My right hand,” just like we say in the creed, that “He is seated at the right hand of the Father.” It also is a verse of comfort and strengthening, because it says that when He does this, when He is seated at God’s right hand – when His redeeming work is done, fought the fight, the battle won – His enemies are crushed beneath His feet. The enemies of Christ who inflict such damage and hurt on you who belong to Christ, they are conquered, under His feet.
So when the devil accuses you, it’s a lie, because of Christ. Your sins don’t condemn you anymore. If He’s enthroned, so are you who believe in Him. He has a crown, but you’ll have a crown. His victory over the devil is your victory over the devil! His victory over death: your victory over death!
But now the question is: Who is He? Who is the Christ who accomplishes this? First, it was clear that He would be the Son of David, descended from David. God made this clear to David himself, telling him that his offspring would have a kingdom and a throne that would last forever. This is the promise that the angel refers to when he tells Mary, concerning the Son that’s being conceived in her by the Holy Spirit, that “the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David … and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
So He had to be descended from David. This is Jesus’ human side. There were many “sons of David.” First, the kings down to Josiah’s son Jehoiachin, who was taken to Babylon, but was allowed to live instead of being killed. There were no kings after that, but there were sons leading to the family of Mary. Jesus is a son of David through Mary. He got His humanity from her.
But He would only be recognized legally as being from the line of David through His earthly father. So even though Joseph is a foster-father, he gives Jesus His legal status as a son of David by claiming Jesus as his son.
Jesus is true Man. But which man would the Messiah be? Son of David – descended from David – along with other details, like: born in Bethlehem.
But He would also be true God. He is the one who isn’t only Son of David, David’s human descendant, but also the Lord God of David. David calls Him “my Lord.” Jesus made this clear by His miracles, casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, and by forgiving sins. So He is true God.
The Pharisees, of course, refuse to believe this. So do believers of present-day Judaism, Mormonism and Islam. They and others believe that He existed but not from eternity. Mormons may call Him the Son of God but they believe that He was created by the Father, not eternal. Muslims believe He was only one of the prophets, not as great as Muhammad, but certainly not God. Then there are the Unitarians, atheists and others who really worship human reason, they honor Jesus as a wise teacher, they prize what He taught about love and charity, but do not believe that He is true God and true Man.
So there are many people in our world who may believe that Jesus came to teach the way of salvation, but they reject the notion that He came to actually earn it for all people by Himself. This is the point. He did this work as Savior in His perfect life, in His death on the cross that atones for all sin, and in His resurrection which proves that He really is the Son of God – David’s Son and David’s Lord – thus His death forgives all sin. As we heard in today’s gospel, His name Jesus means that He comes to “save His people from their sins.”
This is the true saving faith, to believe this of Jesus. This is what it means to believe in Jesus. Not just to believe a man named Jesus was born in Bethle- hem. Even people who go to Christmas services tonight, who sing along with Christmas carols, believe only that: that Jesus was born of Mary in Bethlehem. But not that He has anything to do with their life and eternal destiny.
That’s the question for each person. That’s the question for you. Do you believe that He has something to do with your life? Do you repent of the sins He came to save you from? Do you believe that He was born for you? Do you believe that all your sins were laid upon Him?
And if all of that seems too much in the past, do you believe that He is Immanuel, “God with us?” – Which doesn’t mean that He was with us only in the past 2,000 years ago, but that He is with you today. Do you believe that He is with you and that He is for you? He definitely has something to do with your life. He sees you. He watches over you. He sees your sins that need to be forgiven. He sees when they trouble you and when they don’t. But He never ever forsakes you. He really is your Immanuel – God with you.
He forgives your sins as His Word is spoken to you today. He is with you in the Lord’s Supper today – coming to you under bread and wine in His body that was born of Mary, and in His blood He shed for you. Because He even comes into you as you hear His Word, and as you eat and drink in His Supper with faith, He goes with you. So we too “hear Him gladly.” Amen!