“‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ ‘The son of David,’ they answered.” - Matthew 22:42
The Jews of Jesus’ day had certain preconceived notions about their coming Messiah, and these notions prevented them from accepting what God actually provided for them. As has been stated so many times, the Jews believed that the Christ would be the “Son of David,” and would “reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom” (Isa. 9:7) in much the same way David did. David rode out to battle and defeated the Philistines, the Moabites, the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Amalakites (2 Sam. 8:12). The Scripture says, “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went” (2 Sam. 8:6), and most Jews considered this to be the apex of Jewish history. But, encouraged by the prophecies, they thought the Messiah would rule like David over even more than David ever did. For example, Psalm 72 stated about the King:
He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. The desert tribes will bow before him and his enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him (Psalm 72:8-11).
The intense desire to see Gentiles licking the dust before this Jewish king was constantly flamed as the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) unfolded, the time of Gentile domination over the Promised Land: Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and now Romans, doing as they pleased and taking whatever they wanted from the Jews in the land God gave to Abraham and his descendents forever.
So, when Jesus did all those great signs and wonders on behalf of His people, the Jews were in a great state of expectation: here at last was the Son of David, come to rule as David did, on the throne he established. And when Jesus rode that donkey into Jerusalem, and all the people were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” David’s throne could not have been far from their minds.
But God had two shocks for them. Christ would stoop far lower than David ever did, and would reign far higher than David ever did. Christ’s mission was a humiliating death on the cross, where His blood would be spilled by Gentiles, rather than their blood spilled by Him. And when they saw Pilate’s message “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” above His dying form, they were outraged. The Messiah could never stoop so low as to die by the Gentiles under a curse from Almighty God.
"Christ would stoop far lower than David ever did, and would reign far higher than David ever did."
But even more offensive was His claim to be, not merely Son of David, but also Son of God. He was claiming a throne infinitely higher and more glorious than David ever imagined. He was claiming to rule with God the Father on the Throne of the Universe, co-equal and co-eternal with God. “Before Abraham was born, I AM!” He would reign forever and ever, but David’s little earthly throne was “too small a thing” (Isa. 49:6) for the Christ. And that offended the Jews as well.
They had the Messiah in a box: not too low and not too high, thank you. God had other plans, and God’s plans are eternally glorious. Christ would stoop lower than any man in history, dying under the wrath of God for the sins of the world. Christ would be raised higher than any King in history, sitting at the right hand of God the Father.
Have you also, perhaps, put Christ in a box? Have you decided “The Lord I know could never do _____”, and when that happens, your faith in Him is shaken? Let it not be. Christ cannot be put in a box and He will certainly surprise you with His infinite humility and His infinite glory.