Mark 12:35-43 Why Does David Call the Messiah Lord?

35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies

under your feet.”’[h]

37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

The large crowd listened to him with delight.

38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Why Does David Call the Messiah Lord?

Some people see the widow’s offering as something to be emulated. However, Jesus has just commented about how Pharisees devour widows’ houses. I believe this widow to be one such unfortunate. Jesus does contrast the amount she gives with the amount the Pharisees give. They give out of a bounty but she gives out of the little she has. She gives to a corrupt structure that should take care of her, but the ones who look after her will line their own pockets rather than fulfil their duty. It is a tragic scene.

In contrast with the story of the exploited widow, Jesus hints at something greater than the corrupt temple system. The Jewish people expected a king like David, they did not expect a king who would transcend David. Jesus openly claims to be more than a mere king, as the world defines kings. He claims that the Messiah is above David.

Jesus is still above our expectations. Our ideas about him are limited by the bounds of our own minds. Our systems are corrupt and exploit people for gain. However, Jesus established a Kingdom that even transcends the ideal kingdom of David. In that kingdom there is no room for corruption.


Jesus our systems empty our pockets and exploit the poor. We give money to people who can work but don’t. We take money from people who are in need. Bamks have shown themselves to be run by corrupt, greedy people. The government of David was just and focused on you. Help us, as your people, to take care of the needy and be generous in giving. May we give you everything because there is no-one like you.


What does Jesus show to be true about the Messiah?
How did Pharisees run a corrupt system?
In your opinion was the widow to be emulated or pitied?
How does Jesus create a government that is superior to David’s?
How is the church doing in its care for widows and orphans? What about you?


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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5 Responses to Mark 12:35-43 Why Does David Call the Messiah Lord?

  1. kevin w. says:

    Reading this I find myself wondering how many passages of scripture hold truths which I have never seen before even though I have read them (just like the Psalm of David Jesus quoted). It is both exciting and a bit disheartening to know that whatever my image of Christ is, it is lacking.
    Part of what is compelling in this passage is how Jesus makes a point about how much greater He is than David and then proceeds to show his compassion for the poor and trampled. I think that, as a whole, the church in America is not doing a good job taking care of the orphans, widows, and destitute. So often they are written off. I think the widow is to be pitied and emulated. Truly this picture should be convicting to us (it is to me).

    • Plymothian says:

      The point about knowing Jesus and not knowing him speaks of the nature of relationship. If we view Jesus like a project, we can be frustrated that we haven’t got our Jesus done. If we view him as a person, we acknowledge that in the same way a person needs to continuously communicate with us in order to know us, so we need to communicate with Jesus in order to know him.

      • kevin w. says:

        Very true. Indeed, it seems that the people at that time may have been treating God and His word more like a project or puzzle to solve than a God to whom they should relate. I think this can be especially relevant to Moody students (like me) who are taking classes with the expectation of mastering material and doing projects.

  2. Christina Zezulak says:

    Much of Jesus’ ministry is geared towards showing that the Messiah is above our expectations. In other passages, we know that the people desired the Messiah to establish his kingdom on earth in a political way so that the current issues would be conquered and victory would be given to Israel. However, the Messiah was to be much more than that. He would be above David because Jesus’ kingdom is perfect. I believe this notion was difficult for them because the problem of sin was not recognized like it needed to be. I think that Jesus is also showing that the Messiah is just by pointing out the problem of the exploited widow. The Pharisees, much like many political leaders today, made much of themselves and neglect the duty that they were called to – caring for the widows and the poor. I am thankful that Jesus condemns religious hypocrisy more than anything else, because it is one of the issues that even the church struggles with over and over again throughout time. We need to be reminded what it means to truly follow God.
    In my opinion, the widow is to be emulated and pitied. Yes, she was neglected by the very people that were appointed to care for her… but she remained faithful in giving. She gave what she had to the Lord. How many of us are able to give all that we have to the Lord? If we are honest with ourselves, this is immensely difficult. We like to stay in our range of comfortable giving, enough to make us feel good but not enough for true sacrifice.
    Although much more can be done, I believe that the church is doing its part in caring for widows and orphans. Now that I am involved in contacting local churches for my new ministry, I see that churches have many connections to helping the poor here and everywhere. I am still unsure of the church’s work with widows. For myself, I have started a ministry called Mighty Grace Ministries with another Moody student. We aim to help Haitians in a remote village (Lagrange, Haiti) by meeting the needs of the orphans, students, women, and much more. I praise God for such an opportunity – and I pray that it will be a piece of the puzzle of His greater plan.

    • Plymothian says:

      Your ministry for Haitians seems to be in the spirit that Jesus shows in this passage. The churches are a mixed bag. However, I am not aware of any that would intentionally neglect the poor.

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