Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Understanding the meaning of Jesus' Lordship

Luke 6:46-48 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, thetorrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built."

All the time at our house we tell our children that if they will do as we say, they will have a much more enjoyable experience than if they try to do it their way. The Christian's relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ operates on similar principles. To love Him is after all to do as He says. (John 14:21) Whenever we make Jesus Christ's Lordship our priority, there will be peace. 

Three words to think about when understanding Jesus Christ's Lordship or authority
Luke 6 begins and ends with the assertion of Jesus Christ being Lord. We've already established that Jesus Christ's Lordship is directly connected to the obligation and ultimately, the desire of the Christian to obey what He says. Lordship is ultimately about authority. We can summarize such authority by way of three words: rulership, responsibility and right. 

Rulership. When I say that Jesus Christ is Lord - I am referring to His authority of rulership. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, page 700, explains further this concept of Christ's Lordship as it is found in the New Testament: "So a title whose basic thrust is to assert Jesus' present power and authority in the church and in the world leads the church to recognize that the authority is direct, not mediated, authority of God Himself. Jesus as Lord speaks not only of His work but of His person also, a fact made clear by the way the various NT writers use the OT." This is immediately demonstrated by Luke's record of Jesus' self-reference in Luke 6:5 as being "The Lord of the Sabbath". Amazingly this title used by Jesus ("Lord of the Sabbath") is an allusion to the first time we see the Divine name for God (Yahweh = LORD) used back in Genesis 2:3-4. It is in that text we see God/Yahweh asserting His absolute authority over the creation and instituting the Sabbath day as a commemoration of that fact. In short - when Jesus refers to Himself as "Lord of the Sabbath", He is saying in effect that He is God in the flesh (compare John 1:14; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16).  

Responsibility. The second word we can use to understand the authority of Christ's Lordship is the responsibility all people have to heed Him. All people are responsibile to bow the knee in surrender to Jesus Christ - however not all willingly do so. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that upon Jesus' ascension into heaven - the Father reinstated the title of "Lord" that expressed what He has already been from all eternity. From the perspective of unbelieving humanity - the jury is out on whether or not Jesus is Lord. Satan and the demonic realm refuse to acknowledge what they know to be the fact of Christ's Lordship. Regardless of what unbelievers, the demons and Satan may think - Jesus' Christ's Lordship is an uncontested reality. In heaven the Lordship of Jesus Christ is without question. In the church here on earth many confess its reality but of course not everyone yields consistently under His authority. Nonetheless what is a "not-yet" recognition of the "already" reality of Christ's Lordship will at the end of history and at His appearing be universally asserted. Unbelievers who die in their sins, the demons and Satan will bow the knee out of obligation. This is why it is so vital in the here-and-now to assert by grace through faith that "Jesus is Lord". We are responsible to Him - whether we delight in it or not. 

So we see that Christ's Lordship entails His rulership and our responsibility to Him. There is one final word we can use to complete our discussion of this important truth, namely...

Right. Does Jesus Christ as Lord have the right to tell you and me what to do? The right of Jesus Christ to have unlimited rulership in our lives and our responsibility to Him come to head in His right to be Lord. I am convinced that unless the Christian has had issue with the concept of Christ's Lordship on any level - Lordship's implications have not yet been grasped. Unless we are confronted with the rights He has over us, and unless we yield to that right - Christ's Lordship will be viewed as a fetter more than a friend.

Closing thought
Certainly we may well begin with the attitude of obedience or an "I have to" approach to our Christian life.  However as we become more closely acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ, He has a way of turning my "have-to's" into "want-to's". What begins as a duty of obedience becomes a delight of surrender. As you and I wave the white flag of surrender to Jesus Christ's Lordship, we are really waving the flag of victory in the Christian life.

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