4.4 Jesus is Lord
This is a strange one and one we need to rewind.
We sing hymns – “Jesus is Lord, Creation’s voice proclaims it” and we see Lord as a theological word. But it wasn’t. Kurios is a Greek word used for a master, a boss, or as a way of addressing a superior. It was a very secular word. We might get some idea if we said – “Jesus is the Boss”.
We have some idea of Lord through the medieval period of earls, and people addressing them as “My Lord” in historical dramas, and this may also be helpful, as long as we realise that Jesus said “No one can serve two lords” – so in a world where our superiors demand allegiance, Jesus challenges this by calling on his followers to see him as the Lord, the Boss, the Master, the one who – if you like, and using the culture of that day – “owns” us, as if we are slaves.
And Jesus says he no longer calls us servants or slaves but friends, and Paul tells us that we have been adopted as children, when we should be slaves with no inheritance.
But we should not take our inheritance for granted, far less should we think we can wander into God’s presence as and when we feel like it.
We do not presume to come to this your Table
trusting in our own righteousness ..
There is the parable of the wedding banquet and the guest who comes in his own (scruffy) clothes, having ignored the offer of a wedding garment.
Yesterday we thought about the wonderful truth that God is with us – Emmanuel – but it is also and equally true that Jesus is Lord, God is the Almighty, the Creator, the Holy One and we are – as Isaiah says in a vivid image – like ants, or (in another verse) like gnats.
And if Jesus is the Lord, the Master, the Boss the one to whom we owe allegiance then our allegiances to all others, whether the one we work for, or political parties, or authorities, must all be tested in light of what God calls us to be and do. Jesus was not a revolutionary who saw bad in every form of power and opposed it, but he was a radical who saw the bad in every form of power and spoke up. This last sentence needs to be tempered a bit by the powerlessness of his position as a Jewish peasant, and by his primary calling which was also to show the positive signs of the Kingdom, not to be defined only by what he stood against.
And that must be true for us if we call Jesus Lord. We should live out the positive signs of the Kingdom, grace, mercy, generosity, love; we should live as his followers, as people of prayer and compassion; we should model as best we can what the Kingdom Community might look like, in our churches and in our homes.
It is not an either – or, but a both-and. We should both stand against what is wrong, and live out what is right and good. There will be times when the standing against has to take priority, and there will be some who are called to a more prophetic and confrontational role and we should thank God for them and consider what more we should and could be doing, but, like Jesus, we should also show what the Kingdom is, and in our loving of others, and in how we live out our lives we should illuminate the Kingdom: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The word AND in that sentence is so important – how do we help others see and give glory to God?
And as we think about Jesus as Lord, we see a model of Lord which is so different from the model of then and so different from the models of now. No flash buildings and palaces, no demands for deference and respect, no exploiting of others to increase his own wealth; no taking from others, or invading other areas in order to take more.
‘Store up treasures in heaven’ – as we give, we discover we will be rewarded a hundred times over in heaven, but we give not because we have an investment policy for rewards in heaven but because we have discovered the truth and we have discovered that the Lord of All loves us and has adopted us, and we are free and we are secure in God, and we know that his promises are sure and so we can – when we are on a good day! – live in that liberated way.
Jesus is some Lord, and we must not let that word become just another word – it is so full of meaning and resonance and challenge and hope.
This Christmas Eve we remember the Lord is born in a borrowed manger / feeding trough. He will be buried in a borrowed tomb. He will leave no monuments, except that He was and is the Creator of the World.