These three words, Jesus is Lord, comprise the earliest Christian Creed we know of. This statement serves as an adequate confession of faith as it sums up the whole biblical revelation of Jesus Christ. How can that be? Read on and see what I mean…
JESUS is Lord
Jesus identified the One the early believers recognized as being Lord. This name referred to a young man from Nazareth that created quite a stir in Galilee and Judea by what He taught and the miracles He performed. It refers to the One whose story is recorded in the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
For verification of this, look at what His disciple Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost.
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Acts 2:22 – 24, 36 ESV (emphasis added)
He proclaimed it again in the house of Cornelius.
“As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea,beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:36 – 42 ESV (emphasis added)
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who was being referred to when they confessed that JESUS was Lord.
Jesus IS Lord
The word is reveals the absolute conviction in the heart of the confessor of this present-tense reality. He is stating something as a fact. Jesus is not going to become Lord sometime in the future. He reigns at the Father’s right hand right now at this very moment. This is why Peter declared on the day of Pentecost that God had make Him both Lord and Christ (see Acts 2:36 above).
Jesus is LORD
The word Lord is the Greek word kyrios, which means he to whom a thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding. It refers to one who is master or Lord. To state that Jesus is Lord is to declare His supremacy over all things. This is in complete harmony with what is revealed about Him in the Scriptures. Consider the following.
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19 ESV
Concerning Jesus being placed at God’s right hand, Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen write in The Drama of Scripture,
It is important to understand the significance of that place described as “the right hand of God.” Though many Jews believe that the Messiah will share the throne of God, they expect God’s throne to be in Jerusalem, from which the Messiah will rule a worldwide Jewish empire. However, the throne of the Messiah as Peter describes (Acts 2:33, 5:31) is not in Jerusalem at all: it stands entirely above the world, in heaven at the right hand of God. This is the place of highest authority and honor. God’s kingdom has no boundaries of any kind. Jesus does not merely sit on the throne of our hearts and reign there: that is much too narrow a concept of his authority. Jesus reigns over all human life, all history, and all nations.*
This goes right along with Philippians 2:8 – 11.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ESV
Consider also Colossians 1:15 – 20.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ESV
While there are many more passages we could look at, these should suffice to show that to call Jesus Lord is to ascribe to Him His rightful place of absolute authority.
The All-Inclusive Statement
As stated before, Jesus is Lord is the great all-inclusive statement regarding Jesus Christ. Think about it. In order to occupy the position of being Lord, He would have to be
The Son of God (no mere mortal could occupy such a position)
The Son of Man (sin came by man and had to be dealt with by man)
Sinless (He would not qualify as Savior otherwise)
Crucified (only death could atone for sin)
Resurrected (because death could not hold Him)
Exalted (based on all of the above)
We are saying all of the above when we make the declaration that Jesus is Lord. Isn’t it amazing how three simple words can say so much?
The Point of Entry
In conclusion, look at what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:5 – 10.
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ESV (emphasis added)
Jesus Christ is the truly unique Person in all of history. He alone is the Son of God who became the Son of Man to became our saving King. He alone has been exalted to the place of honour above all others. Thus the confession that Jesus is Lord becomes the point of entry for anyone wanting to live in the Reign.
*Craig G. Barthholomew, Michael W. Goheen, The Drama of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 172.