For He Must Reign… – part 2: Coming on the Clouds (Mt. 26:64; Dan. 7:13-14; Ps. 110)

In Matthew 26:63-64, Jesus is being questioned by Caiaphas the high priest. Caiaphas asks Jesus, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God?” Jesus’ reply has been misunderstood by many, thinking that he is speaking of his second coming. Jesus acknowledges that Caiaphas is right, that Jesus is the Son of God. Undoubtedly the high priest understood Psalm 2 which speaks of God’s Son as being King over Zion. Thus, being understood by the high priest as we understand it today, that Psalm 2 is a messianic Psalm, Caiaphas knew that the messiah, the King of Israel, was to be the Son of God (which explains why the sign above the head of Jesus on the cross read, King of the Jews).

Jesus acknowledges that Caiaphas was correct, and then continues to exegete himself from two other O.T. passages, Psalm 110, and Daniel 7. Using a combination of these two texts (in which he intertwines them both together to form one new text in which to derive one meaning), Jesus refers to himself in v. 64 as the Son of Man, obviously a reference to Daniel 7:13,14. Jesus then refers to Psalm 110:1, and says that he would be sitting at the right hand of God. Continuing on, Jesus then goes back to Daniel 7 and speaks of his coming on the clouds of heaven. How are we to understand this? Let’s first look at Daniel 7, since we already dealt with Psalm 110 above.

Daniel 7:13,14 says:

13  “I kept looking in the night visions,
         And behold, with the clouds of heaven
         One like a Son of Man was coming,
         And He came up to the Ancient of Days
         And was presented before Him.
    
14
“And to Him was given dominion,
         Glory and a kingdom,
         That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
         Might serve Him
         His dominion is an everlasting dominion
         Which will not pass away;
         And His kingdom is one
         Which will not be destroyed.
(NASB)

            As I mentioned above, many people, when they read Matthew 26:64, when Jesus refers to his “coming on the clouds of heaven”, they take that to mean his second coming. But let us notice something plain as day, and that is, in Daniel 7:13, what direction is the Son of Man going on the clouds of heaven?

“I kept looking in the night visions,
         And behold, with the clouds of heaven
         One like a Son of Man was coming,
         And He came up to the Ancient of Days
         And was presented before Him.”

The Son of Man in Daniel 7 is going up, up to the ancient of days, not coming down. And when in the gospel accounts, did Jesus go up? At the Ascension. This Daniel 7 passage is not speaking of the second coming of Christ, but his Ascension to the right hand of the Father. And notice what the Son of Man receives at his coming up to the Ancient of Days, verse 14,

“And to Him was given dominion,
         Glory and a kingdom,
         That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
         Might serve Him
         His dominion is an everlasting dominion
         Which will not pass away;
         And His kingdom is one
         Which will not be destroyed.”

            So when Jesus, in Matt. 26:64, speaks of his coming on the clouds of heaven, we can now understand Jesus to be referring to His enthronement as King, and his being given a kingdom. This is congruent with Psalm 110 which Jesus also refers to in Matt. 26:64. As we have already seen, God the Father tells His Son that he is to sit at His right hand until all his enemies are made his footstool. Jesus directly connects these two passages, Psalm 110 and Daniel 7, explaining that he is the Son of Man who will be going up to the Ancient of Days to be seated at the right hand of the Father, where he is given his everlasting kingdom, which is characteristic of all his enemies being made his footstool. This is why the Caiaphas tore his robes and said that Jesus was a blasphemer, and why the sign “King of the Jews” was put over his head while he was on the cross.

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