Christ the Lord

And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified” (Acts 2:36).

When we consider Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection, and begin preaching the message of salvation in His name, we make much of the atoning aspect of His death. We preach how Jesus died for our sins, and how His death allows for the reconciliation of God with man.

The atoning power of Jesus’ death is quite significant, and we are not trying to minimize its force or its value. Yet, when Peter stands up and begins preaching to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, his message focused not on the atoning aspect of Jesus’ death but what Jesus’ death and resurrection meant for the power structures of the day: God has made Jesus the crucified both Lord and Christ!

The message was inescapable: Jesus, as the son of David, was the one prophesied to come and sit on David’s throne forever (cf. 2 Samuel 7:16; Acts 2:34). Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus accomplished these things, and all authority in heaven and on earth was granted to Him. Therefore, the Jews on the day of Pentecost were to see that Jesus was their Lord, and they needed to serve Him!

Yes, Tiberius was still Emperor of Rome, yet in truth the great Rock had crushed the nations into pieces (Daniel 2:44). All were then made subject to Jesus and His Word, and would be judged accordingly on the last day (John 12:48, Acts 17:30-31), no matter what the Emperor might say.

Rome has passed, along with plenty of other nations and powers, and yet nothing has really changed since that day. Perhaps there may be many who refuse to submit to Jesus as their Lord in life, but Paul makes it perfectly clear in Philippians 2:9-11 that a day is coming upon which every knee will bow and every tongue confess the great power and majesty of Christ the Lord. The only question will be whether you will do so gladly, as one falling before one’s Savior, or mournfully, realizing the folly of sin when it is too late (cf. Matthew 25:1-13).

Americans, especially, have difficulties understanding authority and the need to submit to the proper authorities. Perhaps that is why it seems so much easier to preach Jesus as the Lamb of God: there is something in it for the one who hears. Nevertheless, it is good for us to remember and make clear that because Jesus died and is now risen, Jesus is Lord. And since Jesus is Lord– in fact, Lord of lords (cf. Revelation 19:16)– He deserves our homage and service, even if there was nothing in it for us (cf. Luke 17:7-10)! If we would show proper deference to an earthly ruler or king, how much more obedience should we continually show before the King of kings and Lord of lords? If we would be willing to obey one who has power over our lives, why would we refuse to obey the one who has power over our souls (Matthew 10:28)?

Thanks be to God that we have such a wonderful Lord and Christ, One who loved us so that He was willing to die for us, to provide us with all spiritual blessings, and to provide the hope of the resurrection and eternal life for all who would obey Him (John 3:16, Ephesians 1:3, 1 Corinthians 15). Let us confess that Jesus is our Lord, and be His servants today!

Ethan R. Longhenry

No Greater Faith

And the centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having under myself soldiers: and I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goeth; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he cometh; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he doeth it.”
And when Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:8-10).

“Faith” is a word casually thrown around in our world. Most people recognize that religion has a lot to do with faith. Many in America believe that all one needs is faith. Yet, despite all this talk of “faith,” precious little energy is devoted to what this faith looks like.

Since Jesus provides such a great commendation for the “faith” of this centurion, we would do well to consider his example.

As a centurion in the Roman army, he understood authority. The Roman military expected complete obedience to every command; they conquered the known world because of their famous discipline. When the centurion received orders, he strove to fulfill them. When he gave orders, he expected them to be fulfilled. Everyone knew their place and their function, and it was assumed that they would do what they were told. Consequences for disobedience were sufficient to keep such a system in place.

The centurion hears of Jesus and believes the claims made about Him– he beseeches Jesus by calling Him “Lord” (Matthew 8:6). Based on that conviction, he makes his request, and he knows that if the Lord grants the request, the thing will be accomplished. He has no need to have Jesus come to his house and to see Jesus perform the act in front of him– he understands that if Jesus is Lord, and He says something will take place, it will be accomplished.

He also knows his place. He declares himself “unworthy” of having Jesus come to his house. He recognizes authority when he sees it and defers properly to that authority.

This is the type of faith that causes Jesus to marvel. What of us?

Do we have the conviction that Jesus is Lord? Well and good– what do we do with that conviction? Do we have the confidence in Jesus to accept that if He says that something will come to pass, that it will happen? Do we have the confidence in Jesus to believe that if we lose our lives, we will find them (Matthew 16:25)? Do we have the confidence that if we put the Kingdom first, God will provide (Matthew 6:33)? Do we have the confidence in Jesus to forsake all in order to serve Him (Matthew 10:37-39)?

Do we really understand authority? Americans live in a country high on freedom and quite skeptical of authority figures. Do we really accept Jesus’ Lordship? Can we see ourselves as His servants (Romans 6:16-18)? Are we willing to entirely subject our own wills to His (Galatians 2:20)?

Furthermore, can we muster the humility to recognize our place before Jesus the Lord? Do we recognize our own unworthiness of having the Lord in our presence (cf. Titus 3:3-8)?

The centurion shows how we can have a “marvelous” faith. That faith is the strong conviction of Jesus’ Lordship leading to great humility and subjection before Him. Let us have this faith so that we can recline at table with the Patriarchs and the Lord!

Ethan R. Longhenry