The Gospels record that people referred to Jesus by several different titles, including Lord, Savior, Christ, the Word, the I Am, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. One of the most intriguing titles that people ascribed to Jesus is Son of David, which he is called in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Why is Jesus called this?
When the title “Son of David” is applied to Jesus it means that he is of the ancestral line of David and that he is the Messiah (or Christ) that God promised to the third king of Israel (2 Sam. 7). In his Gospel, Matthew emphasizes that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. Mark and Luke also mention it.
How (and where) do Matthew, Mark, and Luke use the title “Son of David” in reference to Jesus? Why doesn’t it appear in John’s Gospel? What exactly did God promise David about the Messiah? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Jesus as the Son of David in Matthew
Matthew uses the title “Son of David” more than any other Gospel writer. The designation highlights that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made to David.
The title reveals that (1) Jesus is in David’s ancestral line, (2) Jesus is like David in certain ways (e.g. a king), and (3) that he has a unique relationship with God the Father. “Son of David” appears in Matthew’s genealogy, birth account, and healing stories of Jesus.
Matthew uses the title in Jesus’ genealogy: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matt.1:1)
Two blind me use the title: “And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David.'” (Matt. 9:27)
A crowd of people uses the title: “Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, ‘Can this be the Son of David?'” (Matt. 12:22-23)
A Canaanite woman uses the title: “And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.'” (Matt. 15:21)
Two blind men use the title: “And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!'” (Matt. 20:30-31)
A crowd shouts out the title: “And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!'” (Matt. 21:9)
Children use the title: “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!'” (Matt. 21:15)
There are also other places in his Gospel that Matthew alludes to being the Messiah God promised to David; however, the title “Son of David” doesn’t always appear in the passage.
Jesus as the Son of David in Mark
People refer to Jesus as the “Son of David” twice in the Gospel of Mark. There are other passages in which Mark makes allusions to Jesus being the Messiah that God promised David, but the exact title “Son of God” isn’t explicitly used in them.
A blind man uses the title: “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (Mark 10:47-48)
Jesus uses the title: “And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, ‘How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.’ David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?’ And the great throng heard him gladly.” (Mark 12:35-37)
Jesus as the Son of David in Luke
Luke uses the title “Son of David” similarly to Mark.
Luke uses the title in Jesus’ genealogy: The title appears in Luke 3:31, which isn’t a direct reference to Jesus, but is in included in a description of his ancestral line: “…the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David…” In verse 23, Jesus is referred to as “…the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli…”
A blind man uses the title: “As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:35-39)
Jesus himself uses the title: “But he said to them, ‘How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?” (Luke 20:41-44)
“Son of Man” in the Gospel of John
The title “Son of God” doesn’t appear in John’s Gospel. Nevertheless, John still presents Jesus as the Messiah that God promised David. There are allusions to David in John 12:15 and 19:37.
- “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:15)
- “And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced.'” (John 19:37)
There is also a strong theme in John that presents Jesus as a shepherd (e.g. Ch.10), which has allusions to David.
God promises David the Messiah would come from his line
God promised David that a dynasty would come from his line after he died. A kingdom would be established. 2 Samuel 7:12 reads, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.”
The so-called Davidic Dynasty or the Davidic Kingdom will glorify God and last forever. 2 Samuel 7:13 reads, “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
- Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
- Hosea 3:5, “Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.”
- Amos 9:11, “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old”
- Isaiah 55:3, “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”
- Jeremiah 23:5, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”
- Ezekiel 34:23, “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
- Psalm 18:50, “Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.” (Also see Psa. 89:3-4 and 132:1-5)
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