Jesus is Lord: Meditation for the fifth Sunday after trinity
“Jesus is Lord” is the shortest creedal affirmation found in the New Testament. It serves as a statement of faith for majority of Christians, who regard Jesus as both fully man and God. It has become a common ending for Christian adverts, as well as a common inscription on Christian posters and materials/documents today.
In the Mediterranean milieu, the term ‘lord’ was generally used as a courtesy title for social superiors. However, the root meaning of the word was ‘ruler’ and kings were called ‘Lord’. The kings were often considered divine beings, and so, the word acquired a religious significance. The concept was also present in classical cultures and thoughts.
In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, (the Septuagint), Kurios was used for the divine tetragrammaton YHWH, which was no longer read aloud, but replaced with adonai – a special form of the Hebrew adon (‘lord’).In the New Testament, “Lord” is used of Jesus as a customary title of respect (“sir,” – Mat. 8:2; 15:25). It also retains its Septuagint associations of faith, reverence, and worship (Mat. 3:3; Luke 7:13; Acts 5:14; 9:10; 1 Cor. 6:13-14; Heb. 2:3; Jas 5:7). It appears in phrases like “the Lord Jesus,” “the Lord’s Day,” “the Lord’s Table,” “the Spirit of the Lord” (who is also “Lord,” 2 Cor.3:17), “in the Lord,” “from the Lord,” “light in the Lord,” “boast in the Lord.” Sometimes, it is not clear whether God (the Father) or Christ is intended (Acts 9:31; 2 Cor. 8:21). The title is attributed to Jesus Himself in Jn 13:13-14 and Jesus accepts the title “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).
In the first Christian sermon, Jesus’ lordship is made central to salvation (Acts 2:21). It acknowledges the ownership of Jesus by virtue of the Redemption (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:22-23). The public confession of Jesus as Lord obviously became the approved focus and expression of Christian faith, and the basis of membership of the apostolic church (Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11). Thus, it could become more of a formal statement than a sincere expression of belief – hence, the warnings in Mat. 7:21 and Lk 6:46.
The acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord was, however, from the first, fraught with misconceptions and danger. To the Jewish minds, the title had messianic overtones of kingship and authority (Luke 20:41-44), offending both Jews and Romans. Politically, “Lord” was a title claimed by the Caesars. Therefore, it is significant that Jesus is called “King of kings and Lord of lords” during the time of Emperor Domitian, when Caesar-worship was mandated (Rev. 17:14; 19:16). Among Greek-speaking Jews of the dispersion, for whom “Lord” was the customary title for the many gods of polytheism, the application of the name to Jesus was blasphemous, especially when associated with “Son of God,” prayer, praise, total devotion, and hope (1 Cor. 8:5-6; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:14-17).
Reflections on the Bible Readings for Day (Mattins)
In the OT passage (Isa. 43:14-45:5), God is not only introduced, but He also introduced Himself as the LORD, the Israel’s Holy One, Creator and King (14-15). The LORD is God, the Almighty. He did great things and would do them again. But, unfortunately, the people of this All-powerful God failed to acknowledge his LORDship. Instead of calling upon Him and honouring Him with satisfying sacrifices, they wearied Him with sins and iniquities. God called them to reflect and see that the LORD is just in His judgement (cf Psa.51:4; Isa. 1:18; Mic. 6:2).
The NT passage (Mark 2:18-3:6) contains some of Jesus’ confrontations with the Jewish religious leaders over Sabbath observances, which occasioned His claim to be Lord of the Sabbath. What the Pharisees and Jewish leaders did not know was that Jesus is God, Who gave the Sabbath. He did not come to abolish the law (which He Himself gave) but to fulfil them. He is the Source of the law and the interpreter of Himself.
Jesus is Lord.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.