Why did the Church proclaim Charles as God’s anointed?
You’d need to be 70 to have seen the coronation of a British monarch before. The nature of the coronation ceremony came as a surprise to many. It was an Anglican church service, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Justin Welby acknowledged King Jesus as the king of kings, and called on Charles III to do the same. Submission to heaven’s reign matters: a king who humbles himself and pledges to live as a servant of the heavenly throne is more likely to treat his people with grace than a ruler who believes all power rests in his own hands.
The big question the coronation raised for me is this: Is Charles God’s anointed? Is that the good news the church is called to proclaim?
“The resurrection changes everything.” That’s the message we hear as we celebrate Easter. What do we mean? Was this really the point in history when everything began to turn around, when God began restoring everything he intended in the beginning?
Yes, it is that central. The earliest Christian creed declared this of primary importance: that Messiah died on account of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he has been raised up on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Maybe your translation used the world Christ rather than Messiah. Both words mean “anointed.” But “Christ” can only refer to one person, so that disconnects it from the many kings in the Scriptures who were messiah. We lost that in translation.
The point of this early creed is Jesus as the anointed in continuity with the Scriptures. Let’s look to the Scriptures to see how this works.
In the last Psalm of David, we hear the messiah’s voice declaring the restoration of God’s reign.
There’s nothing like Psalm 145, titled Praise; of David. No other psalm is called praise (tehil·lāh). This is the ultimate Davidic psalm in the Psalter.
Set among post-exile psalms, Psalm 145 is the voice of the David to come, the anticipated king who would restore God’s reign. That’s why it’s the most quoted psalm in the Jewish prayer book. It was referring to the world to come (Talmud, b Ber. 4B).
Christians believe the long-awaited Davidic king has come and brought his people back into God’s reign. He called it the kingdom of God. So does this Psalm. His kingship extends to all the people. The Psalm says that too. Phrases foundational for Christian theology are on the lips of the Davidic king in this Psalm.
God rewrote international relations the day he raised Jesus from the dead. When God made his gospel proclamation — giving his Son all authority over all the peoples of the earth — he brought an end to the war for power, our struggles to gain ascendency over each other.
If you think of the gospel merely in terms of personal forgiveness, you’ve not yet begun to understand the global impact God’s gospel has. God’s gospel proclamation brings all nations together under one leader.
Kings and priests were both anointed in the OT. How does this conflict of powers play out in Matthews’ Gospel? It goes to the heart of his explanation of the cross.
Once you realize the gospel is the good news of the kingdom (with Jesus as the anointed king), you see how the latter part of Matthew’s Gospel is the conflict of the two positions anointed by God: high priesthood and kingship. Matthew 21–28 chronicles the outworking of that clash.
What do we mean when we say Jesus is the Christ? Is it merely part of his name? Or did Peter have something more in mind when he declared Jesus to be the Christ?
This is no minor matter. It goes to the heart of the Christian faith. It needs to be discussed in our churches, since Jesus’ identity and mission defines our identity and mission. So, how do we teach on this for a Sunday congregation?
This podcast (24-minutes) is from the message delivered to Riverview Church’s Joondalup campus on 8 August 2021.
How does Jesus fulfil the promises of Zechariah 9 about dealing with their enemies and restoring divine kingship?
The humble king, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 is an outstanding prophecy, worth exploring in context.
The previous eight verses say that God was opposed to their neighbours to the north (Syrians) and south (Philistines). How does that fit with Jesus? Didn’t the previous chapter promise that the nations would come to seek the Lord? (8:20-23) As always, we need to appreciate the wider context.
Matthew promotes Jesus’ agenda — the kingdom of God — as the fulfilment of the promises God gave through the prophets, with numerous allusions to Zechariah. We’re looking at how Zechariah’s visions informed Jesus’ agenda.
When the kingdom fell apart and the people were exiled to Babylon, Zechariah delivered God’s call for the exiles to return (1:3), declaring that God would lead them home like a new exodus (2:6-12). He said they would see the twin signs of God’s leadership over them: Joshua the cleansed high priest in God’s house, and “the Branch” of David’s house who would reign as God’s anointed (3:8).
Joshua Jipp explains what “Christ” means in Ephesians, and who we are in Christ.
I’ve never met Joshua Jipp, but I think of him as a friend. He understands how central the kingdom of God is to the New Testament, and he explains it in The Messianic Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020).
Here’s a little of what he says about Ephesians. We miss the message if we treat “Christ” merely as a name for Jesus rather than as God’s anointed ruler bearing his authority:
Be on your guard against those who proclaim anyone else as God’s anointed.
Matthew 24:23-25 (my translation, compare NIV) 23 Then, if someone tells you, ‘Look! Here’s the Anointed’ or ‘Here!’ — don’t believe it! 24 For pseudo-messiahs and pseudo-prophets will be raised up providing great signs and wonders in order to mislead the chosen if possible. 25 Look, I’ve pre-warned you.
What’s a false prophet? People often say, “Someone whose prophecy didn’t come true.” There’s some truth there, but that isn’t definitive. Prophecy isn’t primarily about prediction. Even where it contains a prediction, you may find yourself misled long before the prediction fails to materialize. That’s more an effect that a definition. A true prophet is someone who speaks for God, while a false prophet claims to speak for God when they’re not. It’s an issue of authority: whether they’re speaking the word of the Lord.
That’s why Jesus connects fake christs with false prophets. A false prophet promotes a false messiah. They speak for a power other than God, a leader other than God’s anointed ruler for the earth. That’s precisely what Jesus said: false prophets are pointing to someone other than Jesus when they say, “Look! Here’s the Anointed!”
Should we find Christ in the Psalms, or read them as Israel’s story?
Should we see Jesus in the Psalms?
The church fathers saw Jesus everywhere, but modern commentators focus on authorial intent — the meaning the author intended to convey. The Psalms were written to celebrate the reign of Israel’s God and to lament their struggles as his people. The authors didn’t intend to write about Jesus, so can the Psalms be about Jesus?
And yet, the New Testament writers do apply the Psalms to Jesus. Psalm 8 is applied to Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:27 and Hebrews 2:6-8, and even by Jesus himself in Matthew 21:16. Authorial intent matters, but it’s too limited a view. There’s a bigger story playing out across the canon of Scripture.
Jesus’ answer for what’s wrong is not exclusion: it’s the radical inclusion that comes from restoring our brokenness to wholeness.
What does the son of David do for his people as he enters the capital? Matthew alone reports this:
Matthew 21:14-16 (my translation, compare NIV) 14 Blind and lame people came up to him in the temple complex, and he healed them. 15 But as the chief priests and Bible scholars saw the marvellous things he did, and the children calling out in the temple, “Hosanna to the son of David,” they were outraged 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what they’re saying?” Jesus replies, “Oh, yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of tiny tots and babies you orchestrated acclamation?’”
Jesus had healed the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others in Galilee, where the crowds recognized the God of Israel working through him (15:30-31). The reaction in Jerusalem is polarized.
The crowds ascribe salvation (Hosanna) to the Davidic descendant who saves his people, but those who hold the reigns of the city are put out. They feel threatened, just as Saul did when God’s anointing had moved to David and the people sang his praises as the one who would save them (1 Samuel 18:7-8; 21:11; 29:5).
This descendant of David is the saviour/king in the story of his regal ancestor.
The Palm Sunday crowd declared the gospel: heaven and earth reconciled in “the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus’ triumphal entry was the greatest recognition Jerusalem ever gave its king.
Matthew has been proclaiming Jesus’ kingship since the beginning: the son of David (1:1), born into their captivity (1:17), to save his people from their disobedience (1:21). Jesus has been announcing the good news of the kingdom and using his authority to release his people from their sufferings. Eventually his followers realized who was king (16:16), and others began to recognize him as the son of David (20:30-31).
A growing crowd streams into the capital from the east, accompanying the one they proclaim as the son of David, returning to reign in Jerusalem. They lay their garments on the road to honour their king, cutting branches to mark the festal celebration.
What they say is the most astounding declaration of the gospel. Matthew summarizes their joyful shouts with three statements that declare the reconciliation of heaven and earth in him:
God’s king has a different authority to what we’ve known.
The king of peace is so different. When the disciples first recognized Jesus as God’s anointed, he told them to keep it quiet (16:16-20). Now others have had their eyes opened to the son of David, and they cannot be silenced (20:30-34). This growing crowd forms a festal procession, celebrating the return of the son of David to the capital in the name of the Lord (21:9).
Yet, this son of David does not look like the kings who came before him. Solomon had 12,000 horses and 1,400 chariots to defend his kingdom (2 Chronicles 1:14). Jesus doesn’t even have a donkey. If he’s to be carried into Jerusalem, he must borrow a pack-animal for this occasion — the return of the king to Jerusalem after 600 years.
Why did the early church de-emphasize the message of the kingdom of God, and how do we recover it?
As we saw, even blind people could see Jesus was the son of David (Matthew 20:30-31) as he made his way to the capital where people would recognize him as the Son of David … arriving in the name of the Lord (21:9, 15). He challenged Jerusalem’s rulers to recognize the son of David as their Lord (22:42-45). It’s blindingly obvious that Matthew presents Jesus as the restoration of the Davidic kingship, the ruler God has anointed (Christ).
When Paul wanted to summarize the gospel at the start of his letter to Rome, he described Jesus as the physical descendant of King David, raised up as the reigning Son of God by his resurrection. “Jesus Christ the Lord” names Jesus as God’s anointed and our ruler. This gospel transforms the world by bringing the nations to trust his leadership (faith) in obedience to his governance (Romans 1:3-5).
Yet the church moved away from this good news of Jesus’ kingship. The early fathers focused on Jesus’ divinity (Son of God) rather than his descendancy (Son of David). We are unbalanced and the gospel is diminished when we emphasize one truth at the expense of the other.
By the early 200s, Origen thought the crowd was right to silence the blind men who called Jesus such a contemptible name:
What’s the significance of declaring Jesus as the son of David?
I guess blind people see the world differently. Matthew tells of two non-seeing people who saw Jesus as king. Son of David, they cried (20:30). Their declaration was significant enough for Matthew to repeat: Son of David (20:31).
The “gospel of the kingdom” expects God to reveal who is king.
The biggest reason we struggle to understand what Jesus meant by “the kingdom of God” was the way he presented it. He kept on about the kingdom, without claiming to be king. And if you don’t see Jesus as the king, you don’t see the kingdom. Continue reading “The gospel revelation (Matthew 16:16-18)”
Fear of Christ is a phrase found just once (Ephesians 5:21). It’s the generic word for fear (phobos). Many translations render it as “reverence” or “respect”, but that isn’t strong enough. In a kingdom perspective, fear of Christ displaces every fear.
Do you read this as a warning that you might not go to heaven?
Ephesians 5 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a person is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (NIV)
It didn’t mention heaven. Readers substitute heaven because that’s how kingdom of God has been understood. But the Bible’s narrative isn’t about us going to heaven; it’s about God’s kingship being restored to earth.