I recently attended a wedding in which the couple truly wanted to make the message of Christ come through loud and clear. The ceremony was beautiful and was a wonderful message of God’s desire to enter into a union with us, His church. Since the beginning of mankind, God instituted marriage to be a representation and reminder of the ultimate marriage of Himself to His bride. In our fallen and sinful state we have tainted that image and made it something it was never intended be. But through the redeeming work of Christ at work in us, we are able to offer the world a better portrait of what marriage is meant to be. However, that is another message and not the reason I am writing today. There is one truth that really hit me heavy during the ceremony that I would like to explore in deeper detail. One of the hymns sung during the ceremony was “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name“. One of the lines of that hymn is “…and crown Him Lord of all”.
What a glorious phrase and yet that is one of the most challenging realities for all of humanity. It so happened that many of the wedding attendees were unbelievers and they would likely freely admit they want to be the lords of their own lives. However, as we sang the hymn those five words became the focus of my minds energy. How could something so simple be the most challenging for man to achieve. You see, the concept of making Jesus Lord is not something that only the formerly mentioned unbelievers struggle with. It is a struggle that everyone of us, believer and unbeliever alike, must deal with on a daily basis. It is a condition that has touched every member of the fallen human race since the first sin of Adam and Eve. Those who have attended church services know that we are to surrender to Jesus and give our life to Him. But sadly, with many I think it stops there, it is simply knowledge. Few dare venture deeper into what that idea really means. I completely understand, it is a scary unknown, where few have traveled before us. Let’s dig a little deeper and attempt to unpack what making Jesus Lord means.
In the book of Philippians Paul states that because Jesus “…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…and humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:7-11, NKJV)
The word “Lord” is kurios in the Greek and appears more than six hundred times in the New Testament referring to Jesus or God. The Strongs (#2962) definition of kurios is ‘he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding’ with another definition being ‘properly, a person exercising absolute ownership rights’. With these two definitions in mind, let’s look at how these words were demonstrated in two different but relevant cultures.
In classical Greece, a few hundred years before the time of Jesus, kurios was used to refer to the head of the household. The kurios was responsible for his wife, children, and female relatives that were not yet married. The kurios would arrange marriages, provide the dowries, represent the female family members in court, and take care of larger financial transactions on their behalf. When the women married, her husband became her new kurios. In this setting we see how the “lord” was responsible for providing for, representing, advocating for, and protecting those he had charge over.
If we look at the word “lord” in the English it is used to describe a person who is in authority, or has control, or has a place of power over others, such as a ruler or master. The etymology (origin of words) goes back to the Old English word hlāfweard or “loaf-ward”. This comes from the germanic tribal custom where the chief provided food to his followers. It is interesting that the Old English word hlafæta for servant is literally translated as “loaf-eater”. In the feudal system the lord owned the land and leased the land to the vassal who was responsible to the lord. The vassal would also swear an oath of fealty, a formal acknowledgment of sworn loyalty, to the lord. Many times the lords were also vassals because the king ultimately owned all the land in the kingdom and leased it to the lords. Pretty fascinating, right?
Back to the hymn line at the wedding, the primary thought I was pondering was why we have such a hard time making Jesus Lord. We know this is because of pride and the deep desire of self-dependence and wanting to be in control of our own lives. We want the “freedom” to make our own decisions to do what we want with our lives. There is great resistance to the idea of yielding that power to someone else. Why is that? It may partially be due to the fact that we are broken people living in a broken world. We can’t trust someone else to make decisions for us. Pride is definitely a major factor, as well. Therein lies the challenge that every person must face and come to terms with as to whether they are going to surrender to the lordship of Jesus or not. As long as we decide to make our own decisions and choose our own path, we will keep getting what we’ve gotten for the last several millennia. But when we begin the process of surrender to Jesus, only then does our course change.
Paul tells the Romans that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [and]…everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9,11 ESV) Once we get to the bottom of why we don’t surrender, I think we will find that the real reason is that we just don’t know who God is. We don’t trust Him to be good in all He does, we don’t realize the reality of His perfect nature. We don’t believe that everything God does is for our good and that He wants to give us good things. We think God wants to restrict us, confine us, hinder us, or take away from us. As we choose to seek God, He reveals Himself to us in new ways. In turn we dare to move closer to Him and we see Him a little more. Eventually, we reach a point where we can let go and trust His nature and know that His plans for us are perfect and for our good. Sadly, many people never get that far because they aren’t willing to take the initial step or are held back by holding onto their dreams, desires, possessions, relationships, or ideals.
Just like in the feudal system where the king owned all the land and everyone under him was subject to him, Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Colossians says it this way, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-18, KJV) That is pretty clear that Jesus is over all things and is superior to all other powers or authorities. The tricky thing is that God has given us free will and allows us to make our own choices and He won’t take that away from us. However, as Scripture states several times, there will be a day of judgement where “…there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13, NKJV)
I want to present one more truth from Scripture that brings this all together. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he writes, “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NKJV) You see, we are not our own, we belong to God. We were created by God, we are sustained by God, everything we have is from God and belongs to God, we are redeemed by God, purchased to be His bride.
As I conclude, I would like to bring us back to Strong’s definition of kurios being ‘he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding’ or ‘a person exercising absolute ownership rights’. By making Jesus Lord of our lives, we are surrendering our rights, our wills, our power, everything we are and have to Him. We give Him the power of decision in our lives. He decides where we will live, who we will marry, what we will do and how we will live our lives, all for His glory. As I said before, this is a scary thought, but as we explored the meaning of the word lord we’ve discovered the responsibilities that rest upon Him. As Lord, Jesus is responsible to provide for us, protect us, represent us, deal with our legal affairs, and settle matters on our behalf. He guards our food to make sure we never go hungry. He is the owner of all things and allows us to use what belongs to Him for a time. Combine that with the knowledge and revelation that God is perfect and good in all He does and wills and we can be confident that we are surrendering ourselves into capable, loving, and holy hands.
My prayer is that through this discovery process you learned something new that will push you closer to our Lord Jesus Christ and has made you all the more eager to fully surrender yourself into His tender, loving arms. Let us pray that God would reveal Himself to us in new ways and give us revelation of His goodness as we step out in faith. Pursue to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength and crown Him Lord of all. Amen!