Archive for December, 2015

Jesus the “Son of David” and heir to the throne of Israel

Bible lands © 2015 Simon Peter SutherlandTherefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7: 14

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ has been controversial topic for centuries. In the 2nd century, a Greek philosopher and a critique of Christianity named Celsus, claimed that Jesus was the son of a Roman soldier named Pantera. This claim has sparked debate that Mary was the victim of a rape and that Jesus was the product of that. But the story has very little historic backbone to it.

In 1952, a Bible translation called the Revised Standard Version was published. This translation rendered “a virgin” of Isaiah 7: 14 as “young woman”.

The translation appeared to be in direct contrast to the KJV and caused considerable controversy in its day and gave zest to the King James only movement. One of the arguments presented by critics of the RSV was that the rendering of ‘a virgin’ could be traced back to the oldest translation of the Old Testament known to exist. This translation is the Septuagint (LXX) and is a Greek translation of the Old Testament dating to the 3rd century BC.

likewise, we know the early Church believed Isaiah 7: 14 meant ‘a virgin’ since the ancient Apostles creed, puts the miracle of the Virgin birth this way:

  • “Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary.”

The problem is that in the RSV, the text of Isaiah can be read to deny the virgin birth, however, Luke’s gospel according to the RSV may not appear to deny the virgin birth, since the claims are quite clear by exposition.

However, for many people today, the virgin birth is about as real as Rudolf pulling Santa’s sleigh, yet these views are nothing new. In fact, when we read the New Testament, we see Joseph and Mary wrestling a little with it too.

In Matthew 1: 20 we read that Joseph “thought about these things” and then had a dream. Clearly he was troubled by the situation and was logical, he must have thought Mary had been unfaithful to him and Matthew recorded that he planned to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1: 19). Likewise Mary’s response to the angel who told her she would give birth to a son was likewise logical and reasonable “how can this be, since I do not know a man” (Luke 1: 34. NKJV). The angel told Mary the miraculous conception would be of “the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1: 35. NKJV). Mary’s question was reasonable and shows that people can reason and ask questions concerning God and faith.

A question I often asked myself when I was a child was; why did the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel go to Joseph? And why do the genealogies of Matthew and Luke differ? Many years later, I learned there is a very distinct reason for the two genealogies. Matthew’s genealogy differs to Luke’s genealogy for very distinct reasons:

Matthew’s genealogy proceeds forwards from Abraham to Joseph. While Luke’s genealogy moves backwards from Jesus to Adam. Matthew’s genealogy represents the legitimate, legal, royal line unto Jesus’ legal father, as in stepfather, while the genealogy of Jesus recorded for us by Luke represents Mary’s lineage.

Matthew’s genealogy represents the legitimate, legal, royal line unto Jesus’ legal father, as in stepfather. The genealogy of Jesus recorded for us by Luke through Mary’s lineage. This connects all the way back to Adam, as needs must to connect Christ as direct decent from Adam that He in the likeness of flesh, might take upon Himself the sins of the world.

Research shows that King Jeconiah is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy and thus reveals a very distinct reason for the virgin birth.

In Jeremiah 22: 30 the prophet wrote;

  • Thus says the Lord; Write this man down as childless, A man who shall prosper in his days; for none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.

This is the reason why a virgin birth had to happen, because if Jesus had been the actual biological son of Joseph, then Jesus would have been part of this curse and thus could not be King of Israel.

If not for this curse, then Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather would have been the legitimate King of Israel. This is why the Angel referred to Joseph as “Joseph, thou son of David” Matthew 1: 20. The Angel did not refer to Joseph as ‘the’ Son of David, but ‘son of David’. Seventeen verses in the New Testament name Jesus as the Son of David and Matthew recorded that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a Donkey, the people hailed “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 20: 9) Jesus the King was clearly next in line for the throne and Paul also affirmed this claim in Romans 1: 3, 2 Timothy 2: 8.

This curse written by the prophet Jeremiah did not come upon Mary or her descendants because she was not a descendant in the lineage of Jeconiah.

The people of ancient Jerusalem and the Babylonian Kings (the wise men) knew these things and this is why they asked:

  • “Where is He who is born King of the Jews”. Matthew 2: 2
Jesus Christ crucified

Jesus Christ crucified from a 19th century engraving © 2013/15 Simon Peter Sutherland

The claim to the throne of Jesus as the true King of Israel was known not only by the Jewish people, but by Greeks and by Romans. The Gospels record that the claim of Jesus as King was written by Pontius Pilate and placed upon Jesus’ cross.

  • Matthew 27: 37 “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”
  • Mark 15: 26 “The King of the Jews”
  • Luke 23: 38 “This is the King of the Jews”
  • John 19: 19 “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews”

The claim of Jesus as King was written in “Greek, Latin and Hebrew” and in John 18: 34 Jesus questions Pilate on whether or not the claim that He Himself was King came from Pilate or from other people. “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?”

That question should be asked by all of us; do we say things about Jesus because others tell us these things or do they come from ourselves? It must be a fact that since Christianity has impacted this world so strongly that every human being must at some point ask the question of who Jesus Christ truly was and is. If He was truly the Son of God, which I believe He was, then He is the most important person who has ever lived or ever will live. And if He wasn’t the Son of God then who was He and how strong a case can be assembled to make each and every individual wage eternity upon their answer?

I believe that Jesus was who He said He was and that is why I hold Him and His commands in such high royal esteem. I believe He is the only way to God and His miracles, healing’s and resurrection stand as firm proofs of that.

The question is; when He returns, will He take the throne in a literal sense?


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