What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ is our Lord? Who made Him Lord and Master, and what does that teach us about our relationship with Him?
When being baptized by a minister of the Church of God, a person is asked a few questions related to his or her commitment to the Christian way of life. One question, asked just prior to his or her entering the baptismal water, is whether he or she accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Master.
If a Christian already accepts Christ as his or her Savior, is it really necessary to also confirm Him as Lord?
Meaning of Lord
The English word Lord in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word kurios. It is sometimes rendered as “Master.” The word means “one who is in possession of authority, lord, master” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, revised and edited by Frederick William Danker).
Thus, kurios refers to a person of high rank, renown, power or authority of some kind. It can refer to an ordinary human being (Matthew 18:25, translated “lord” in the King James Version and “master” in the New King James Version). This is where we get the term landlord, which refers to an individual who rents or leases property to others. As owner, the landlord has the authority pertaining to that property. This leads to another meaning of kurios: “One who is in charge of by virtue of possession, owner” (ibid.).
“Lord” is also used when speaking of God and Jesus Christ. God the Father is the ultimate authority in the universe. He is over all things in heaven and earth: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24). There is none greater than He (John 14:28). The Father is sometimes referred to as the “Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:8; 21:22). No other being carries that title.
Lord and Christ
We find in Scripture that God the Father allows His Son to act on His behalf and has actually placed Him in authority over all things. It was at His resurrection that Jesus was declared to be the living Savior of mankind and the ruling authority over creation.
Acts 2:36 tells us, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (see also Romans 1:3-4). This is why Paul could state in 1 Corinthians 8:6 that there was one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is vitally important for Christians to acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ not only as the Savior who died for them, but also as their Lord or Master. Romans 10:9 shows that this personal confirmation is required for salvation: “Because, 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” (English Standard Version).
But just knowing that Jesus is Lord is not enough. As Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord means we must be willing to obey Him. At the time of His ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus gave commandments that He expected His disciples to follow. Jesus taught His disciples, and us, a way of life that He expounded upon in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5 to 7). In order to walk with our Father, we must follow the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ (John 15:14).
Head of the Church
The Christian Church described by the Bible recognizes Christ’s authority or Lordship and acknowledges Him as the Head of the Church. Colossians 1:18 tells us, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
We also read in Ephesians 5:24 that the church is subject to Christ “in everything.” The Church is subject to Christ in that it follows His teachings as revealed in the Bible and relies upon Him to give inspiration and direction through His Spirit.
Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12). Peter mentioned Christ’s position next to the Father and His lordship over all creation when he stated in 1 Peter 3:22, “Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”
All created beings—angels and humans—are under Christ’s authority. In turn, Jesus is under His Father who sits on the throne of the universe in heaven.
We have been bought with a price by the sacrifice of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20). (See the article “Passover: What Did Jesus Do for You?” which explains the details of His sacrifice.) Romans 14:8-9 instructs us, “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
Our lives literally do not belong to us if we are Christians. Jesus Christ is our Lord—our Master—thus our owner. We are His possession. Paul tells us, “Or 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).
We owe Christ everything. In fact, we belong to Him. Therefore, we are not to live our lives as we see fit, but as Christ and His teachings would direct us. He has been given authority over creation, the Church and all of mankind. Our calling is to obey His teachings, which came directly from the Father (John 12:49).
Soon Jesus Christ, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, will return to this earth to establish His millennial reign for 1,000 years (Revelation 11:15). Those who have been willing to call Him Lord and yield to His authority under the Father will themselves have positions of authority and responsibility in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 20:4).
You can be in this Kingdom and be granted eternal life. In order to be a part of this great plan, you will need to not only accept Jesus Christ as Savior, but also as Lord and Master.
Learn more about the amazing promises God has in store for mankind through Jesus Christ by exploring additional articles on this website, especially the sections about the “Kingdom of God” and “Change.” Understanding how and why Jesus Christ is Lord and Master is a key to walking with God and being a part of His wonderful plan.