A Radically Different Lord
In this sermon about declaring "Jesus is Lord", we are reminded we are to follow Christ's example and sacrifice ourselves for others.
What do we mean by “Jesus is Lord”?
Jesus is Lord! One of the earliest Christian confessions of faith. Jesus is Lord. But what do we mean when we say Jesus is Lord? In Jesus’ time the word Lord was a courtesy title for someone who was socially superior to you, a bit like Sir is today, but its root meaning was “ruler”. Kings and emperors were styled as “Lord” and were often considered as divine beings themselves.
So in earthly terms, to call someone Lord was to acknowledge their wealth, glamour and power. And often, the way to achieve wealth, glamour and power in the world is to dominate other people. Dominance over those around us is a need we all have from the moment of birth. We expect others to meet our needs. So as babies, we cried until someone came to feed or change us. As toddlers, we misbehaved until someone gave us their full attention. A few years later, and we were competing with any brothers and sisters we had to demand more and better privileges than they received.
The incarnation of Christ Jesus represents the antithesis of this human drive to dominate. (Frank Thielman, Christian author).
6 who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
A Radically Different Lord
We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man. (The Salvation Army’s 4th Article of Faith)
Salvationists are Christ-centred monotheists. In other words, we believe in one God who is fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who is truly and properly God and truly and properly man. Jesus is God in the flesh. Which means that Jesus is Lord. But Jesus did not hesitate to give up the exercise of that power so he could love us and we could learn to love him:
2 He left his Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite his grace,
Emptied himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me.
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 30158
Copied from The Song Book of The Salvation Army
Song Number 241
Philippians 2:7–8 ESV
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Isn’t that amazing? The Son of God chooses not to exploit God’s love and power but empties himself. Makes himself nothing. Humbles himself to become a slave. Someone who was deprived of the most basic human rights. He refuses to use his divine power for himself, but uses it instead for the saving and healing of others. He displays God’s power and wisdom in ways that the world sees as weakness and foolishness. Christ went from the highest position imaginable to the lowest of the low, all because he chose to express his divinity through selfless love. And the thanks he gets is to be killed for doing it.
Philippians 2:9–11 ESV
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.
But Paul says this is the very reason (“Therefore”) that Jesus is Lord and the reason that confession has any kind of credibility. God vindicates Jesus’ self-giving life and death through his resurrection, exalting him above every human authority. As every tongue comes to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, we are called to allegiance to the generous, equitable and peaceful order of God’s kingdom.
Radically Different Followers
Philippians 2:5 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
If the Christian faith were merely just a case of declaring “Jesus is Lord” and accepting that Jesus emptied himself because he loved us, then all we’d have to do is say it, believe it, and happily go on as we are, assured of God’s gift of salvation.
But I’m afraid it’s not quite as convenient as that! You see, the Church at Philippi was much like any other church. It had its fair share of rivalry and envy, selfish ambition and conceit. It had its fair share of people trying to dominate others and lord it over them. And so Paul inserts these verses into his letter here for one reason, and one reason only.
Paul pleads with the Christians at Philippi: let Christ’s way of thinking and acting serve as an example for your own lives. As followers of Jesus, he says, imitate him and show the same self-emptying love, unity of spirit and amazing humility. By all means declare that Jesus is Lord, but when doing so, know that obeying Jesus is to begin to be like Jesus.
As we come to the end of this sermon about declaring Jesus is Lord, I challenge you to submit to the lordship of Christ and your life will begin to look like his.
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