Matt Chandler has a fantastic commentary in the midst of one of his recent sermons on The Apostles’ Creed, in which he outlines the significance of Jesus’ lordship and how that lordship is considered by other religions. Here is a link to the entire sermon, or you can just read some of the main points that stuck out to me after the jump.
the historical significance
Let’s set up the historical context first. When Jesus first entered the scene, it caused quite the commotion from the beginning. We read that word was going around town about Jesus and what others thought He could be. Jesus first questioned His disciples to get their take on it…
Matthew 16: 13-14
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Then He turned and asked them more specifically…
Matthew 16: 15-16
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
The interesting thing about Peter’s response here in stating that Jesus is the Messiah or “Christ” is this…
According to Chandler, when the Old Testament was translated out of Hebrew and into Greek (the dominate language of the first century world), this word, “Christos” that was used here was applied to kings twenty-nine or so times in the Old Testament. Kings at that time were called “Christos.” So when Peter is saying Jesus is the Messiah, he is also calling Him the “king” in the shadow of the Roman empire outside of Rome. So here is the declaration that Jesus is the king over all earthly powers. That was gutsy of him to do. Remember that Rome controlled a vast empire—from India to England with a brutal, violent, ruthless regime. And in the shadow of their might, Peter is saying here that Jesus is THE king.
Now, another thing to keep in mind is that the area where their conversation took place. This is rather amazing in its significance. Before it was renamed “Caesarea Philippi” by Caesar, the region was actually called Paneas (in tribute to the god Pan who was worshipped there). This is where the mentality of “Pantheism” comes from. What on earth is that? Pantheism is the idea that God is in everything and everything is God. So in this area, there was not only a temple built for Pan, but also Baal.
So to reiterate Peter’s statement here—Jesus has power over every earthly thing and also every heavenly thing—or in other words, not a single domain exists where Jesus is not King. He is the King of everything.
The Unique Son of God
Another significant part of Peter’s statement which further distinguishes Jesus from the other prophets is that Jesus is the unique Son of God. Prophets were often called “sons of God,” but here we see that Jesus is THE Son of God. And He is unique in three specific ways, according to Chandler…
1) Jesus is co-eternal and co-existing with God. And was before all things.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
2) Jesus walks with a divine and extreme amount of authority. We see this in the various ways He handles people, nature and even demons throughout the Gospel.
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
3) Jesus’ proximity to God. He is part of the God-head or the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit).
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The lordship of Christ
Now there are those who refuse to submit to the lordship of Jesus’ authority (even though the word “lord” is the most commonly used term to identify Jesus in the New Testament (approximately 300 times, according to Chandler).
Jesus is also referred to as the “lion of Judah.” Now let’s be honest. A lion can make a person very, very nervous if they ever came face to face with one. So why should we take King Jesus, the lion of Judah, lightly? Yet on the flip side, even though it is important to fear Him, some take this notion too serious and forget the tender, loving aspect of Jesus’ rule that ransoms and rescues. So these people consider the lordship of Jesus more like a tyrant and cruel in His ways, yet they often fail to realize He is both loving and sovereign at the same time.
Other world views
Okay, so how does the rest of the world view this Jesus of Nazareth? There is no denying the notion that He is a part of almost every religion. Chandler breaks it down in a quick nutshell…
Islam—Muslims believe in Jesus. In fact, He is mentioned multiple times in the Quran as “Isa” (pronounced “ee-sah”), which believes that He was a prophet sent by God. And one of God’s best prophets at that.
Judaism—Jews believe that Jesus is one of a number of false Messianic claimants who have led a ton of people away from the true religion of Judaism.
Hinduism—Some Hindus believe that Jesus was the incarnation of the god Vishnu. And according to their beliefs, Vishnu is periodically incarnated into the world in different forms as varied as a fish, a dwarf or a human being in order to preserve or sustain life, or to restore order to the planet.
Atheists / Agnostics—This group considers Jesus as simply a good teacher to emulate, but nothing more.
Unbelievers—They see Jesus as a historic person who is irrelevant for life. This group of people is not hostile towards Jesus, but they just think of Him like George Washington, for example. A character who did some good stuff, but not immediately relevant in their lives today.
Nominal Christians—This group frustrates Chandler. He considers them Christians who are indifferent to Jesus. They tend to regard Him as a good add-on but not necessarily the true King in their lives. They consider Him more like a “genie in a bottle” who grants wishes without demanding anything in return.
As the great medieval professor and writer C.S. Lewis alluded to after researching the Bible, he came to the conclusion that Jesus’ claims either make Him a liar, a lunatic or the true Lord. According to Lewis, He’s got to be one of these three things. And if He is who He says He is, we cannot be indifferent to that claim.
So as you hear people give their opinion on who they think or say Jesus is, look back at the Word itself. Jesus throws all of that out and says He is who He is (I am who I am). He never said live like Me; He said sit and surrender to Me.
Peter made a lot of mistakes in his life; after all he too was only human, just like us. But when he exclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, He was certainly right on the money…
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
So with all that being said, how do you view Jesus?