What Jesus, descendant of David, promises mankind


National Post View, 22 December 2017

Reckonings are necessary, but reckoning with evil actions is never fully satisfactory. Not all that was lost can be made whole

The dramatis personae of the biblical story of Christmas are well known — the newborn Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the angels singing Gloria in excelsis Deo, the shepherds hastening to the manger, the wise men bringing gifts from afar, the murderous Herod bringing terror.

There is another figure though, mentioned only in passing, but of critical importance to understanding the identity and mission of Jesus. It is King David. Matthew’s gospel begins with the “genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David.” In Luke’s account, we are told that Joseph went up with Mary to “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.” St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans makes clear that he is preaching “the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh.”

David was the great king who ruled first over Judah for seven years with his capital at Hebron. He then united all the tribes of Israel and ruled over a united kingdom with his capital at Jerusalem. In a year when the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital returned to the news, it might be thought that King David is relevant again. He is, but for another reason.

David’s great sin was to use his royal power to indulge his lust. He gazed upon Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, while she was bathing and had his officials bring the woman to him. Having relations with her, he sent her back, only to discover that she was now with child. Faced with the prospect of his adultery being exposed, David then engaged in lies and manipulation, finally taking the decision to order the death of Uriah in battle.

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