by Mark Horne
After I graduated from college in 1989, I spent a summer in the Atlanta area in Georgia learning that I was not cut out for construction work. Then I met George Grant, one of my favorite authors. He was working for a church in South Florida in charge of their aid program for those who were not members of the congregation. We had met before and he asked if I would be interested in working for him as an aid. He promised to raise support for me and find someone to give me shelter. He fulfilled his promise and soon I was heading down to Fort Lauderdale in my 1973 Monte Carlo packed with all my earthly possessions and plenty of room to spare.
For three months I lived with a grand plus shelter. Then something happened. Suddenly George was no longer employed by the church in that ministry. And that was not a bad thing. Instead he was hired by a related media ministry to be the executive director.
George’s change in fortunes had a direct impact on me. Suddenly I was hired to be a writer and editor. Suddenly I had a regular paycheck and an annual salary. Suddenly I had a job title (“editorial associate,” I think). Suddenly I had business cards with a cool logo and my name on them. More substantially, suddenly I was doing something much closer to what were my strengths at that time. George’s promotion was my promotion. Because he was exalted to a higher position I was raised to new heights.
That is (at least in part) a substantial picture of the Gospel. At Pentecost, when the Spirit came down in the form of fire and wind and inspired the first followers of Jesus to praise God, Peter, in the Church’s first sermon, explained it this way: “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear” (Acts 2.32, 33). The Gospel is a classic instance of the “spoils system”—to the victor goes the spoils and he shares with his friends. Jesus is raised from death by the Spirit of God and promoted over the universe, so now he shares that Spirit and authority with us who trust him.
This is why the Apostle Paul could summarize the Gospel as “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10.9; First Corinthians 12.2). The title “Lord” was given to Jesus especially as the one who was exalted from death. As Peter preached in that same first sermon, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2.36). When we believe and confess that Jesus is Lord, we are acknowledging that he has been raised from the dead in power and glory so that he now rules in God’s presence.
In the New Testament writings, it is clear that the title “Lord” also involves an acknowledgement that Jesus is the God who speaks and acts in the Old Testament. Jesus led Israel through the Red Sea after killing all the firstborn in Egypt at the first Passover. But what is especially important to realize is that Jesus became man so that his position of authority and power could be held and used for us. The author of Hebrews states: “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2.14-16). In other words, Jesus gained victory over the grave and authority over the cosmos as our kin.
So confessing, “Jesus is Lord,” is similar to saying, “My brother was just made a five-star general.” Or, “George Bush is my uncle.” Or, “My Dad is a major stockholder in this company.” Jesus’ enthronement means that we are royalty.
And this means that the Faith is a rather concrete thing with day-to-day consequences and challenges. If Jesus is your brother, and he has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28.18), then you must entrust yourself to his care and protection. If he is the King of the Universe, and he deliberately joined with us and died our death, then his exaltation must mean that we will be vindicated as well if we side with him against His enemies. He can protect us from anything, and everything that happens to us is for our good if we are entrusted to him.
“Jesus is Lord,” means that the circumstances in your lives, the troubles with your car, or your job, or your finances, or your spouse, are not intended to destroy you, but to help you–if you will trust your Lord and elder brother.