Life Theology

Jesus: The Greater David

Jesus isn’t just the greater Moses. He is also the greater David. In Psalm 78, the psalmist is reflecting on Israel’s rebellion against God after they were saved from slavery in Egypt. God was so gracious to his people despite their unfaithfulness. “Yet,” the psalmist wrote, “they sinned still more against him” (vv. 17, 40, 56).

Later in the Psalm, the writer tells us that he chose a shepherd from the tribe of Judah to lead his people back to God. This shepherd is David. The psalmist tells us:

He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand (vv. 70-72).

You might be thinking, “David had an upright heart?! What about that whole Bathsheba and Uriah thing? That wasn’t so upright!” And you would be right. Of course David had his moral failures. He was human. And that’s the point: as great as David was as shepherd-king of Israel, he still fell short of the perfection that God’s people needed.

That’s where Jesus comes in. In John 10, he said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11).  In saying this, Jesus claims to be the long awaited heir of David who would lead God’s people perfectly. He would be the ultimate shepherd-king who would never have a moral failure or a bad thought toward his flock.

When we read the Old Testament, we cannot look for examples in men like David and Moses. We need to see them as imperfect men who could never fully be what God’s people needed.  They should not inspire us to be better people. They should leave us longing to be saved by the greater Man who did and said all that God wanted with complete perfection.


The Wall Has Been Broken Down

How is a person made right with God? What removes the sin, condemnation, and curse that we made for ourselves? Paul tells us in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’.”

Paul takes this saying from Deuteronomy 21:23. The context is that if a man has committed a crime punishable by death, and he is hanged on a tree, he should not remain there overnight. Rather, the body should be buried that same day. Paul now applies this to Jesus. Jesus was hanged on a cross (made of wood from a tree; Peter refers to the cross as a “tree” in 1 Peter 2:24 and in Acts 5:30). This tells us that Christ was crucified to become a curse for us. He didn’t just take on a curse, he became a curse. It was as if Jesus was the one who committed “a crime punishable by death” instead of us, so that we might become his righteousness (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).

This imputation of man’s sin (every person!) into Christ’s inner man, his spirit, happened for this reason: “So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14).  If justification were only through the Law, Gentiles could never be saved because they were not given the oracles of the Law.  Christ came and died, however, to break “down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in the place of two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph. 2:14-16).

What is Paul referring to? For centuries there was hostility between God and the Gentiles as well as the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul reminds the Ephesians of this: “Remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh…were at that time separated… alienated… strangers… having no hope… without God” (Eph. 2:11-12). Yet he continues: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (v. 13).

Hallelujah! Christ had to die in order to fulfill God’s promise of “all the families of the earth” being blessed. Without his death and resurrection, there would be no chance for all the families to be blessed, because not all the families had received the law! There would be no opportunity for salvation. And because we know that no one can keep the law, even the Jews would have been eternally separated from God.  How awesome is God’s wisdom and providence.

We know then that one of the Father’s purposes in the Son’s death (among thousands), was to make Abraham “the father of all who believe without being circumcised…and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised” (Rom. 4:11, 12).

Life Theology

Maundy Thursday Meditation

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

– 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

When Passover was instituted in Exodus 12, God told Moses and Aaron to observe the day as a memorial “throughout your generations as a statute forever.” It was to be observed until the new covenant promise of a different kind of Passover. The new covenant Passover, when Jesus passed over the sins of many, brought about the celebration of his death, burial, and resurrection. It brought about the triumph of mere old covenant shadows in favor of the great, eternal, unseen things to come.

Passover reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb whose limbs were not broken, but that he was more than a yearly sacrifice that needed to keep being slain. Rather, he died once for all, so that whoever believes in him will be passed over by the wrath of God that is due us because of our sin.

Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” That night with his disciples he was saying, “You do not need to celebrate Passover anymore. I am the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This is the new covenant. From now on, when you eat together, remember my sacrifice for you. Remember the torture, the mocking, the flogging, the spitting, and the death that I endured. It is for you.”

So, today, as we reflect on the last few hours of Jesus’ life on earth, may we remember that he is the spotless Lamb of God, who was led to the slaughter for our sins. And when we come to commune together with the bread and wine, may we proclaim Christ crucified as the sacrifice that made, and will make, perfect all those who trust in his name.