Story of the New Testament - Lesson 5

By Curt Niccum

Jesus in Luke-Acts: The King Like David

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can explain why Jesus was and needed to be the king like David.
  2. The student will appreciate how Luke tells the story of Jesus and be able to identify particular ways by which Luke proves that Jesus is the king like David.
  3. The student can recognize that, although Luke emphasizes Jesus' role as the king like David, for Luke Jesus is much more, he is God's anointed one (as opposed to being the Messiah the Jews were expecting).


  1. Each student will need to have a complete Bible.
  2. You may want to distribute among the students slips of paper with some of the passages to be read in class. A template for these is provided below.
  3. You may want to have slips of paper with the reading assignment for next week (Mark 1:24-25, 34; 2:42-44; 3:11-12; and 8:29-30) on them to hand to students at the end of class. A template for these is provided below.


Whereas Matthew, Mark, and John wrote ancient biography, Luke, by composing his work in the two volumes of Luke and Acts, creates a work of ancient history. Therefore, it is more about a nation, Israel, than about a particular person. This is not to say that the person of Jesus is unimportant in Luke and Acts. On the contrary, the king is necessary for the kingdom. One might say that volume one tells of the coming of the king, and volume two the coming of the kingdom. Two leaders stand out in Israelite history, Moses and David. Both of these Old Testament characters played a role in the Jewish expectation of a Messiah. Luke, like Matthew, portrays Jesus as the Prophet like Moses. Both gospels also depict Jesus as the king like David, but it is Luke's use of the Davidic messiah that will be examined in this lesson. Jesus fulfills the prophecies about a king like David, yet for Luke, he is much more.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (10-15 minutes)

  1. Organizational matters (taking roll, etc.)
  2. Evaluation of previous lesson: Have the students tell about ways they "listened" last week to Jesus the Prophet like Moses.
  3. Prayer and/or song: The song "We Bow Down" would be appropriate to the theme. Prayer topics could include thanksgiving for the sending of Jesus and that he came to fulfill God's expectations rather than those of the Jews.
  4. Distribute the slips of paper listing passages from Luke (optional). Inform the students that when it is their turn to read, that they must not only read the passage, but try to explain its relevance to the point being discussed.
  5. It is important to clarify for the students the meaning of Christ and Messiah before the lesson. It might help to point out that many religious words used in the church today are not actually English words. Often words of particular importance get transferred into the language of other groups and periods. This was true even of the earliest church, because the Greek churches used Aramaic words and phrases like "Amen" and "Maranatha." Today we still speak of baptism, but "baptism" is a transliteration of the Greek ????????? = "baptismos." A good translation would be "dipping." Another example of the transfer of words would be the phrase "a capella" which is Latin for "(how it is done) in the church." The Old Testament contains prophecies of the coming of an "anointed" one. (Typically the king would be called the anointed one, although the high priest and some prophets were anointed as well. Jesus takes on all of these roles.) "Anointed one" in Hebrew is "Meshiach," transliterated into our Bibles (as well as into the Greek Old and New Testaments) as Messiah. The Greek word for "anointed one" is "Christos," transliterated Christ in our Bibles. Thus, Messiah and Christ mean the same thing. These words refer to Jesus as the one who fulfills the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Anointed One or king.
  6. The students were to read one of the prophecies about the Messiah last week (Psalm 2). Ask the students how Jesus fulfills that prophecy.

Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)

  1. Read Psalm 2 again, but this time have them listen to it pretending they are Jews oppressed by Roman rule in the first century. Q: What would the Jews of Jesus' day have expected the Messiah to do based on this Psalm? A: He would crush the nations and give them all to Israel (verses 8-9).
  2. The "Messianic" prophecies of the Old Testament predicted not only the coming of an Anointed One, but also that Israel's fortunes would be reversed. By the time Jesus was born, the Jewish people interpreted these passages to mean that the Messiah would be a warrior like David who would lead the Jews into battle against all other nations. Israel would become the world power. Conservatives (like those who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls) believed that all Gentiles (non-Jews) would be killed. Liberals, on the other hand, believed any Gentiles who survived the war could be slaves. Thus it is not surprising that many of those who claimed to be the Messiah attempted armed revolts against Rome.
  3. It is against this backdrop that Luke portrays Jesus as the Anointed One, the king like David.
    1. Jesus' birth is proclaimed in language that exalts Jesus' Davidic status. (Have the students assigned these passages read the texts and state how the passage relates to this particular point. Because time may limit how much of this lesson can be covered, the most important passages are marked with an asterisk. If you choose only to use the asterisked passages, make sure the other texts are removed from those passages you distribute to the students.)
      1. He is born a descendant of David (Luke 1:27 and 3:31).
      2. Mary is told that her child will be given the throne of David and reign forever (Luke 1:32-33). This refers to God's promise to David that his son would build a house for him and his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:13).
      3. Zechariah praises the coming of the Davidic king in terms of being rescued from Israel's enemies (Luke 1:69-71).
      4. Jesus is born in Bethlehem, the city of David (2:4-7).
      5. The angels proclaim his birth in Davidic and Messianic terms (2:10-14).
    2. Events in his early life (before the beginning of his ministry) also reflect Davidic kingship.
      1. The note that Jesus grew in wisdom and favor with God and people (Luke 2:52) may also be connected to his being the Davidic king. Similar phrasing is used of David in additions to the Book of Psalms in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
      2. The proclamation at Jesus' baptism, "You are my son," comes from Psalm 2. Thus he is anointed as the heir of David.
      3. The statement that Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work ties him to David, who also began to reign over Israel at the age of thirty (2 Samuel 5:4).
    3. Surprisingly, after the introduction of Jesus in the first four chapters, Luke seemingly ignores Jesus' Davidic status until Jesus approaches Jerusalem to face his death. (This silence, however, is broken with Jesus constantly teaching about the kingdom. Although identifying it as the kingdom of God, Jesus' listeners would have associated God's kingdom with an earthly reign by a Davidic descendant.) For the death, burial, and resurrection Jesus' kingship again becomes prominent.
      1. At the triumphal entry Jesus enters riding on a mule (Luke 19:35-36), the sign of the true Davidic successor (1 Kings 1:32-44) and a fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). *The people shout "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord," a slightly altered version of Psalm 118:26 (Luke 19:38).
      2. At the Last Supper, Jesus speaks of his own kingdom and confers on the disciples the right to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:29-30).
      3. Jesus is charged with claiming to be king and affirms this before Pilate, the Roman governor (Luke 23:1-3).
      4. Those at the cross mock Jesus in terms of Messiahship and kingship. One of the thieves at the cross responds in faith asking Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into his kingdom (Luke 23:35-42).
    4. At the same time, Jesus' superiority to David finds expression.
      1. Jesus confounds the Jewish leaders with a biblical question that proves that the Messiah is more than just "the son of David" (Luke 20:41-44).
      2. The thief on the cross asks to be remembered in Jesus' kingdom, an amazing request considering the king is about to die. The faith in a heavenly kingdom exhibited in the request is confirmed by Jesus: "Today you will be with me in paradise" (paradise was another term for heaven). This contrasts with David's earthly kingdom.
    5. In the Book of Acts Jesus' relationship to David continues to be highlighted, but Jesus' superiority gets clarified.
      1. Jesus spoke to his disciples about the kingdom over a period of forty days after his resurrection. The disciples question Jesus, "Is it at this time that you are going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). The disciples still do not understand Jesus' teachings about the kingdom, so Jesus tells them to wait. But it does become vividly clear on the day of Pentecost that God is indeed in the process of restoring the kingdom to Israel, just not the way they expected.
      2. In Acts 1:8 Jesus prophesies that testimony about him will be taken to "the ends of the earth," language reminiscent of Psalm 2. Acts then becomes the story of how the king like David conquers the world. Instead of being a military machine, Christ takes over the world by being a light to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-48, compare Luke's closing words in 28:28).
      3. Before the restoration of Israel can proceed, the number of "princes" for the twelve tribes of Israel must be made complete. So, relying upon a prophecy of David, they choose a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:20-26). The outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost immediately follows.
      4. Jesus did not see decay, but David did (Acts 2:25-36 and Acts 13:34-37).
      5. Jesus is the true fulfillment of Psalm 2 (Acts 4:24-28 and 13:32-33).
      6. Jesus fulfills the promises God made to David (13:22-23).
      7. The restoration of Israel prophesied in Amos 9 foretold the rebuilding of the "tent of David." The purpose of this Davidic restoration is for "the rest of humanity to seek the Lord." Thus James has no problem calling the Gentiles God's people (=‘laos' in Greek, a term previously used only of the Jews as God's people in Luke and Acts). See Acts 15:15-18.
  4. In accordance with the Psalm we began with (Psalm 2), Jesus becomes the true successor of David. Despite the plans of the nations that oppose God, God installs Jesus as king and proclaims him God's son. Jesus becomes the triumphant ruler through his death, burial, and resurrection. By the time we get to Acts 28, his kingdom extends to the ends of the earth.

Applications: (about 15 minutes)

  1. The Books of Luke and Acts report the spread of Jesus' kingdom over the entire world. Q: In what ways does the church extend to the ends of the earth? A: A number of answers can conceivably be correct. A discussion about the importance of mission work, and especially any particular missions supported by your congregation would be appropriate. Q: In what ways does the church not extend even down your street or in your school? A: Not everyone is a Christian. There is a need then for us to be missionaries here at home as well. Discuss ways the students might share the message of Jesus' kingdom with family and friends. Look for practical ways to put this into practice. Do not just discuss the need for evangelism in abstract terms. Get the students to act. Class projects might even be proposed (by you or students in the class) so that the entire group can work together towards this goal.
  2. The Gospels of John, Matthew, and Luke have been studied in order to look at some of the distinctive ways each tells the story of Jesus. The study of Mark's gospel will take a different approach. Therefore it would be good for the students to be reminded why the gospels narrate the words and deeds of Jesus in the way they do.
    1. The reason the gospel writers connect their story to the Old Testament and that Jesus imitated the great heroes of the Old Testament was to show that God was now writing the last chapter of the Old Testament. In Jesus Christ, God finishes the story. Jesus embodies all that was great about God's people (Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah and Elisha).
    2. He even reverses all that was bad. For example, Jesus does not succumb to the temptations that Satan brings his way. As a second Adam, Jesus destroys the curse brought against mankind in the garden of Eden and brings eternal life.
    3. With so many people claiming to be Messiah, people looked to scripture to find out who was or would be the true Messiah. The Gospel writers show how Jesus is the answer to all of them.
  3. Have the students explain the words "Christ" and "Messiah."
  4. Have the students explain why these words were associated with the expectation of a coming king like David who would rescue Israel.
  5. Review with the students how Jesus' role as Messiah differed from contemporary expectations and how Luke deals with the conflicting views. (If time permits, some of the information in footnote number one can be shared here.)

Assignment: (about 1 minute)

Have the students read Mark 1:24-25, 34; 2:42-44; 3:11-12; and 8:29-30 for the following week. They should be prepared to discuss the common thread found in these passages.


Have the students reflect on the differences between the Messiah God sent and the Messiah the Jews wanted. Have them think about what type of Messiah people want today.

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