Lordship of Christ

During the time of the Roman Empire the word “lord” shifted in understanding over many years. The word had a myriad of meanings—everything from sir, master/owner, husband, idol, etc. However, when Julius Caesar died, his adopted son, Octavian, declared himself “Son of God.” At first, then, “Lord” was a sign of entitlement; after it had been taken over by the house of Caesar, it became a title of deference to the Emperor. Why this short history lesson? The church’s affirmation of the Lordship of Christ, as evident in the writing of early New Testament texts, occurred within this historical context. Naming Christ “Lord” was a quite rebellious act—a direct contradiction to the claiming of that title by the house of Caesar. When we study the New Testament in light of the Empire, we can appreciate how treasonous and dangerous this language becomes to the Roman agenda.

God, however, confers Lordship upon Jesus Christ. In the Book of Confessions, the Westminster Confession of Faith explains:

The Lord Jesus in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure; having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell: to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety. Which office he took not upon himself, but was thereunto called by his Father; who put all power and judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to exercise the same. (6.045)

The confession then goes on to teach that the Lordship of Christ is the very title by which his adversaries recognize him and become subject to him. And while the sons of Caesar title themselves the “Sons of God,” hear how the demons address Jesus: “… What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? …” (Mark 5:7). In fact, in every encounter with those suffering with demons, even the evil spirits recognize Jesus as the Son of God, thereby affirming his Lordship. For the church, it is gracious and merciful that the power afforded by the title Lord ascribed to Jesus is Mediator and Guarantor (Heb. 7:22). As mediator, he acted on our behalf. As guarantor, he absorbs our debts and faults. This is indeed the good news and reward for our own recognition of the authority of Christ.

For Reflection and Discussion:

How does the benevolent Lordship of Christ influence ways we might lead?

Consider the ways that you might explain the Lordship of Christ to a new Christian.