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This is Easter week. Christians worldwide will be celebrating Jesus’ death of the cross and His resurrection from the tomb. Jesus did all this for us, but what does He desire from us?
PETER’S FIRST SERMON
It is interesting to look at the first sermon, preached after calvary and the empty tomb, by Peter on the day of Pentecost. At the end of this powerful message, Peter declares, “let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36, NKJV).
Think of those two last words – “Lord and Christ.” Let me suggest that these two words express what God desires of believers: that they would recognize and accept Jesus as both their Lord and their Savior. So let’s look at these two dimensions of what it means to know and follow the Lord.
JESUS OUR SAVIOR
The word Christ (Christus) refers to the “Anointed One” or “The Messiah.” “Jesus Christ” actually means “Jesus the Messiah.” As such, He came to be our Savior from sin and death. So on Good Friday and at all times, we reflect on what He did when He came to be our Savior and to set us free from the bondage of sin and death. He is our Deliverer, our Rescuer, our Savior.
JESUS IS LORD
This is the other side of the coin, for Jesus not only wants to be our Savior; He wants to be our Lord. The concept of “Lord” is not readily understood by people living in a country like America with a president but not a king. I grew up in what was originally a British colony, Australia. We understood the concept of a king, a lord, and so did the people of Jesus’ day. At that time, the people lived under the rule of a supreme ruler, Ceasar, the Roman Emperor.
So when we pray “thy kingdom come” in the Lord’s prayer, we are praying for Jesus to rule in His Kingdom, in our hearts. Consequently, the simple statement “Jesus is Lord” was probably the church’s earliest baptismal creed. It was and is the acknowledgment that Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
To understand what it means to say “Jesus is Lord,” it helps if we look at how the word ‘Lord’ was used in Jesus’ day. Like many words we use today, the Greek word Kurios (Lord) had many meanings and applications. Let’s look at four basic meanings of that word.
Common Greeting – The Greek word Kurios could be used like our English word “Sir” or “Mr.” It was a common term of courtesy, especially in addressing a social superior.
- Matthew 12:30 (NKJ) – In the parable of the two servants, one says, “I go, sir,’ but he did not go.”
- Matthew 27:63 (NKJ) – Jesus is on trial, and the Pharisees are addressing Pilate: “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.'” Pilate is addressed as Sir.
- John 12:21 (NKJ) – Some Greeks came with Philip to Jesus and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Keep this in mind, and it will help you to understand a difficult passage in Matthew 7:21 where so many people addressed Jesus as Lord and Jesus declared, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord…’ ” These people were mere “hanger-ons” who didn’t make Jesus the Lord of their lives. It is possible to have some sort of relationship with Jesus, which is not a saving relationship. See also Jeremiah 4:14 and Ezekiel 13.
Deity – From the 1st century BC onwards, the title ‘Lord’ was given by worshippers to Gods of Eastern origin that spread throughout the Roman Empire. Thus Paul, when he wrote to the church at Corinth (I Corinthians 8:5), was able to say that there were ‘gods many and lords many.’ So for pagans, the two words God and Lord meant much the same things, another word for Deity.
Jehovah – The term Jehovah was used in scripture to translate into Greek, the Hebrew word of the title ‘Yahweh.’ Now, the Jewish people held the view that Jehovah was the only true God. They were ‘monotheistic as compared to the Romans or Greeks, who had many Gods.
Jehovah is Lord, the only true God. So, when the first Christians, who were Jewish, used Kurois of Jesus and declared that Jesus is Lord, they were using the same word already used to denote Jehovah – Yahweh.
Title of Roman Emperor – The emperor, the supreme ruler of the Roman Empire, is also called Lord. In Acts 26:26, Festus refers to the Emperor as Lord when he is talking to Agrippa about Paul saying, “Of, whom I have no certain things to write unto my Lord.”
To sum this up is to say: Jesus is Lord means two things. It is to acknowledge that this same Jesus, the man of Nazareth, who lived and died to save us from our sins is none other than:
- God Himself – Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
- The supreme ruler of our lives – What Caesar was to his subjects by force, Jesus was to His subjects by love. He is desirous of being the Lord of our lives, every part, all life long. He wants to be Lord of all.
AN ILLUSTRATION OF LORDSHIP
Many years ago in Australia, a friend of ours who was a realtor told me of one experience he had in renting a home for a client. To show the house to a prospective renter, you had to have a set of keys. There was not just one key to get in the front door, but rather when you got inside, you discovered that every room was locked and every room had its own key, including the bedrooms, the family room, the bathroom, the kitchen, and the laundry. Every room had a key.
Think about that for a moment. That is a picture of our lives. When we invite Jesus to be our Savior, we give Him the key to the front door. He said he would do that in Revelation 3:20, “He will come in and sup with us and we with Him.” He is always a welcome guest to the front room, the living room, where He can be comfortably seated.
But Jesus doesn’t just want the keys to the front door. He is desirous that we give all the keys to Him. Just think of what some of these ways might be, what in your life might you be keeping shut to Him. He wants to be Lord of all.
Remember this – an idol is something that you love more than you love Jesus! Many years ago, I was preaching in a church in Brisbane, Australia, on ‘The Lordship of Jesus Christ.’ During the message, I had a word of knowledge and said, “There is a young man here tonight who has a motorbike, and that motorbike has become an idol.” Being a visiting preacher, I didn’t know who that could be, but it seemed just about everyone else in the room recognized the person immediately as I had said it.
Later at the altar call, he came out at the end of the prayer line. It turns out he was the son of missionaries who were serving in South East Asia. He was living with friends, and that morning those friends had written the words of a chorus that we used to sing called ‘Fruit Salad’ because it was a combination of a number of songs. Placing the words on the refrigerator door, “Unless you make Him Lord of all, you do not make Him Lord at all.”
This young man was a backslidden Christian, and as soon as I mentioned there was someone there with a motorbike that was an idol, it hit him like a ton of bricks – that is how he described how he felt to me – so he came out and surrendered that idol to Jesus. It was like he gave Jesus the key to that room in his life and made Jesus Lord.
What about you? What about me?
Are there any areas of our lives, any rooms, so to speak, that we have kept locked up? Jesus wants all of us. He wants to be the Lord of our lives. He wants to be the King, the Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings. May that be our response this Easter as we reflect on what Jesus did for us and what, in turn, He desires of us. Let us make Him both Savior and Lord. Jesus is Lord!
HAVE A BLESSED EASTER!