While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?
“The son of David,” they replied.
He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,“The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”
If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Matthew 22: 43-45
In the mess of COVID-19, we are very aware of our needs. Health workers have been rightly defined as ‘essential workers’. In a pandemic, these people have the knowledge and skills we need. We need government leaders and decision makers. Senior policy makers are not in enviable positions right now. We need data analysts to project outcomes and scientists to develop vaccines. We need creatives to lift our spirits and digital innovators to keep us connected. What we really need – what we long for – is someone who can fix this. What would this kind of person look like?
In biblical language, we need someone who is both priest and king. Translated into our context, perhaps that is a bit like a combination of barrister and judge. We need someone sympathetic to plead to. Someone to hear our cries of fear and desperation. Someone to go into battle for us – that’s the barrister. We also need someone to take control. We need justice and power – that’s the judge. In Jesus, we have both.
In Matthew 22, Jesus explains Psalm 110. This psalm of David describes the expected Messiah. There is something remarkable about the person described. He will be both a priest and a king. This was not a normal combination. In Israel, the king represented God to the people and the priest represented the people before God. Just like a judge represents the State’s authority and the barrister represents the accused.
Jesus claims to be this Messiah, not just the descendent of David but the son of God. He is the one who is both priest and king. Both barrister and judge. He represents God to us and us to God.
In the midst of this virus, Jesus’ identity is good news. We need a priest, a barrister, to plead to. We need someone to hear our needs and our fears – and bring them before God. Jesus does this. We also need a king, a judge. We need someone who is in control. Someone with real power and authority. Jesus is this.
When we come to Jesus, we can bring our worries, anger and confusion. Why COVID-19? When will it end? Jesus, as our priest and ultimate defence barrister, hears those concerns and brings them before God.
When we come to Jesus, we are also coming to the king and judge. He is the one to whom God the Father says, ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet’. The one who hears our prayers is this mighty God.