Is Jesus Lord? If not, then who is he? What does this even mean? Sometimes we can be confused by religious language and rhetoric which has either fallen out of vogue or has been outdated by simple linguistic changes in our society. In other words, to say that “Jesus is Lord” may not carry much weight for people these days. Yet, I’d simply like to tell you a quick story in today’s blog that may help us reconsider what is called the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In the years immediately following the death and resurrection of Christ, his followers began to be known not only by their Jesus-like actions but also their confession of faith, which was simply, “Jesus is Lord.” This confession ran directly against another competing phrase of the day. Loyal Roman citizens would say, “Caesar is Lord.” In ancient Rome, something called an Imperial Cult developed around the time of Caesar Augustus. This cult thought that Caesar was given godlike powers and indeed was endowed with the divine power to rule and reign as he wished. The phrase “Caesar is a god” was even put on Roman coins. Every good citizen, then, felt obligated and even pressured to give praise and honor to Caesar. If a citizen went against the grain, then he/she could be punished severely.
Imagine you are a first century person in the Roman Empire. What could happen to you if you declared that Jesus is the one, true King, or God? When we say “Jesus is Lord,” we are telling the world that we believe there is no other god other than the true God. We are also stating that Jesus Christ and God are One. We are placing all of our allegiance behind a King who is not of this world, and subsequently we become citizens of another kingdom.
I wish we could find a phrase today that communicates with the power of saying “Jesus is Lord” in the First Century. Perhaps the best way to communicate is by the way we act and treat one another. Do others know that Jesus is the true King? Do others see your life and can tell that “you’re not from around here?” Have you given your allegiance to Christ?