“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
(Acts 2:36 NIV)
God, our Father, draws us to Himself by introducing us to Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are invited to two levels of relationship with Jesus – that with Him as our Saviour and then as our Lord.
We come to Him initially as our Saviour when we realize that we are sinners condemned to life both now and for eternity in enmity with a holy God who loves us and has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and made acceptable to Him. As sinners, we come to our Saviour, Jesus, to be saved both from the bondage to sin and from the effects of sin in our lives.
After this initial relationship is established and we are in Christ, we receive a further invitation to go deeper and, like we see Jesus inviting the first set of disciples, to follow Him – to become His disciples. This is an invitation to accept Him as not just Saviour, but also as Lord.
“Is there a difference?” one might ask. Yes, there is a huge difference which we will see from the verse quoted above in Acts 2:36. Let’s look at the two words used to describe Jesus’ roles in our lives from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.
Christ: From the Greek word Christos which means anointed, ie. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus.
An epithet is an adjective or phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned. So the word Christ expresses one of the attributes of Jesus – His saving ability. Christos (Christ) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term, Messiah. In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. So, Jesus is the One anointed to save us from our sins.
Lord: From the Greek word Kurios meaning supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller. Synonyms for this word are God, master, Sir. We see several times where Jesus’ disciples referred to Him as ‘Master’.
The KJV Dictionary defines ‘lord’ as a master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler; a governor. Jude 1:4 describes Jesus as “Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” To be a sovereign is to be a supreme ruler. He does what He wants, how He wants, when He wants, with/to whom He wants….and the response of His followers/subjects is simply, “Yes, Lord.”
So we see that the Father’s intention was that Jesus would save us and bring us into His kingdom where we would then become loyal subjects to the King – Jesus. The problem is that while many have responded to the invitation to accept Jesus as Saviour, not many have taken the next necessary step to accept Him as Lord. Jesus Himself asked this question:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
(Luke 6:46 NIV)
He even goes as far as to say,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 7:21 NIV)
He could say this because His will is the Father’s will. Remember, He kept saying that He did not come to do His own will but that of His Father in Heaven and everything He did was to give glory to the Father. So the will of the Father and of the Son are one and the same.
Jesus is Lord!
Right now, He is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory interceding for us while living in us by His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. He passes on instructions to us and guides us through His Spirit, enabling us to obey Him through the same Spirit. Right now, we have the opportunity to willingly submit to His lordship in our lives, letting Him have His way in every area of our lives – our thoughts, words and deeds, but one day, wiling or not, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11).
One day, Jesus will return in all His glory as the Lord of lords and King of Kings:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True… He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean… On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end.
(Hebrews 1:2 MSG)
In this season where we celebrate Jesus’ birth, may we recognize Him for all that He is, in all His majesty and glory; may we go beyond relating with Him as our Saviour and truly submit to Him as our Lord and Master.
The practical outworking of this is that in every area of our lives, anywhere we are, alone or in the company of others, our heart response to the leading of the Holy Spirit (those gentle nudges we receive when we need to respond to a situation or make a decision) will be, “Yes, Lord. Not my will but Yours be done.”