For example, the New International Version's translation is:
"Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: " 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." David calls him 'Lord.' How then can he be his son?"(Luke 20:41-44 NIV)We can see here - as it is in other translations - that the duplication of "Lord" and the use of "son" versus "Lord" makes Jesus' statement seem confusing. But when translated more appropriately, as in the Gospels of Jesus, Jesus' statement starts to make sense.
As to the use of "Anointed of God" versus "Messiah" or "Christ" as in some other versions - here is the explanation of this.
Now with regard to the use of "servant" compared to "son" - this is explained here.
With these points in mind, let's revisit Jesus' statement above. Let's break it down and understand what he is saying:
What is the Anointed of God [Messiah, Christ]?
Rather, Jesus was speaking about a role - a position. The Greek word Χριστός (Christos) means the "Anointed of God" or "Messiah." It is referring to the ancient custom established by the Supreme Being, as God instructs Moses in Exodus:
"Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve Me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.” (Exodus 40:15)This Anointing has been vastly misinterpreted and mistranslated among sectarian teachers. Some have interpreted this sort of anointing to be some sort of kingship over Israel. Others have assumed it to be a casual ceremony for the purpose of determining hegemony.
Meanwhile, the Roman Empire - using the guise of their puppet Roman Catholic Church - forced the interpretation of this word to define Jesus and Jesus only - so they could exert their control over every other faith using their "new" religion as their proxy.
But as God's statement in Exodus confirms, the sort of Anointing being discussed was an ancient process of God accepting someone as His servant and representative. As we look back at the Old Testament, in fact, we find that all of the Prophets were accepted as Anointed by God.
But we see also another situation among these Prophets - including Jesus: They each accepted a Prophet - a spiritual teacher - before them, and took the role as student to that spiritual teacher. We see this, among others, between Joshua and Moses. We see it with Samuel and Eli. We see it with David and Samuel - and Saul and Samuel. And we see it with Jesus and John the Baptist.
We can see from God's statement in Exodus this ancient process of Anointing was given by the Teacher before them - as God is instructing Moses to Anoint others. This indicates not only that the Anointing is essentially the Anointing of God - but it is carried out by those who were previously Anointed.
A lineage of teachers
What this creates is a lineage of Anointed priests and teachers - one that continued over a thousand years before Jesus. And we find that Jesus also Anointed his own students - who became his disciples and continued to pass on his teachings.
Note that we are not referring to ceremony or ritual here. There may be ceremonies discussed, but the essential part was the student submitting themselves before God, and accepting the teacher as God's representative. We are essentially speaking of one teacher passing on the Teachings of love for God to a student, and that student becoming proficient in those Teachings, and passing them on to others. It is about the Teachings - namely, the Teaching of love for God and loving service to God. This is why Jesus quoted Moses' teaching when he said:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)This is the Teaching that is being handed down by all the Prophets, including Jesus, because this is the Teaching that can save us. This is the Teaching that can deliver us from our self-centered illusion that we are okay without our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.
Quoting David: ‘The LORD said to my Master...'This part of Jesus' statement confirms that he is speaking of the Anointed of God as a role. David had accepted a spiritual teacher, Samuel - just as Samuel had accepted Eli. David thus saw Samuel as "Master" just as Samuel had accepted Eli as his master:
The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. (1 Samuel 3:1)To be "under Eli" means Samuel accepted Eli as "master" - and God's representative. Note also that David distinguishes (confirmed by the Hebrew) the difference between the LORD - the Supreme Being - and his Master - who is Samuel - the Anointed of God before him.
Yes, this runs contrary to the sectarian interpretation that suggests that David was speaking about Jesus in Psalm 110. How could this make any sense? Jesus did not appear on the planet for nearly 1,000 years later. So neither could Jesus be David's "master" nor his "son."
Furthermore, if we accept that Mary was a virgin, then Jesus could not even have been a physical heir of David's.
And while we can accept that certainly Jesus - in his spiritual form - existed before he appeared on the planet, David's referring to someone who would appear 1,000 years later would make no sense. After all, David's Psalms were recorded to express and teach others about his loving relationship with God. If he were writing about Jesus, this would mean those who read David's Psalms for over 1,000 years would not have been able to understand them.
Rather, David sees himself as a servant of the Prophet Samuel, and also provided service to Saul. He had accepted Samuel as his spiritual teacher, as he had received the Anointing from Samuel:
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. (1 Samuel 16:13)
David came to Saul and entered his service. (1 Samuel 16:21)
Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. (1 Samuel 16:23)Thus we find that David had accepted Samuel as his teacher, but was also providing service to Saul. Hence we find in David's Psalms, references to both Samuel and Saul from time to time as "master."
This ancient and humble reference is akin to being the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant.... of the servant of God. It is a humble reference wherein one sees themselves in the lowest position - which is actually the most exalted position:
"Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant" (Matt. 20:26)Note also that David is speaking of Saul's - and thus Samuel's - enemies. These foes of the Israelites were being fought off by Saul - and later David. The fact that God was giving him protection due to His relationship with Samuel gave David great solace.
The Anointed of God [Messiah, Christ] is a role, not a specific person
This last point by Jesus confirms that Jesus is speaking of the Anointed of God [or Messiah, Christ] as a role, rather than a single individual. It would be nonsensical to state that the same person could be David's master and servant at the same time.
Rather, Jesus is making the point that a person in that role - the Anointed of God - will necessitate them being a servant of their own spiritual teacher - the Anointed of God before them - as well as being the teacher - and thus master - of their own students.
The reason Jesus is bringing up this point is that the sectarian Jews at the time - the Pharisees and high priests - were stuck in this mode that they were awaiting a single Messiah - the Anointed of God - as though it was a single person. (And ironically, these Jewish sectarian teachers are still awaiting the Messiah.) But at the time, they were all questioning: 'Is Jesus their Messiah (Anointed of God) or not?'
The reality was that yes, Jesus was the Anointed of God - but so was John the Baptist - and so were many other Prophets before them. God is the Supreme Being. He is not limited to having one representative - one Messiah - nor one Son. God is not impotent. He is omnipotent.
Jesus stated this about his own teacher John the Baptist:
"But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet." (Luke 7:26)