What Does The Term Lordship Mean?
Lord…You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:68-69
“He is Lord, He is Lord,” sings the church. “He is risen from the grave and He is Lord.” Yet while they are singing, a man edges forward on his seat thinking, “Wish they would hurry up and get this thing over so I can watch the big game.” Like the phrases, “the Trinity” and “The Rapture of the Church,” the phrase, “The Lordship of Christ” does not appear in the pages of the New Testament, yet the concept of Christ as being Lord of the believer’s life is on every page of Bible.
What does the Lordship of Christ really mean? Before I answer that question, may I point out that scores of people today consider themselves to be Christians who have never made a commitment to Christ as Lord. It is one thing to know Christ as Savior; another thing to know Him as Sovereign. Lest I lost you with words, let me point out briefly what it means to know Christ as Lord as well as Savior.
First–to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ means to acknowledge His position as the Son of God. After the resurrection, the disciples were met by Jesus who had triumphed over death. “My Lord and my God!” exclaimed Thomas (John 20:28, NIV). It was the resurrection of Christ that proved Jesus was Lord; He was master over death and the grave. It gave Him claim to a position never held by another. Peter tried to explain, saying that “God has made this Jesus… both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36, NIV). I do not believe that a person can impartially examine the credentials of Christ without coming to the same conclusion of the Centurion who cried, “Surely this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47).
If Jesus was merely mortal man, He was not Lord over all, but if He did rise from the grave, which the Bible and all of history confirms, He is Lord and someday all men will acknowledge that claim. The second thing it means to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, is that a person, recognizing who He is, voluntarily submits to His authority and discipline. It is an interesting fact and true–all of the disciples called Jesus, “Lord,” except Judas, who betrayed Him. At the Last Supper Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me.” “Lord, is it I?” asked each one, but Judas asked, “Master, is it I?” (Matthew 26:21-25, KJV).
Judas refused to submit to Christ’s authority or discipline. That word, “submit”, bothers a lot of folks today as though it implies forcing yourself to do the bidding of someone who delights in your misery and unhappiness. Do you think for a moment that a father who loves his children would say, “I want my children to prove their obedience by doing everything I can think of to make them miserable.” Nonsense. To recognize the Lordship of Christ means that you make Him your Lord and volunteer to be His follower. Have no fear that He will ask you to carry around a dead fish in your pocket to prove your devotion; as Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, once did to one of his disciples.
Do not think for a moment that to acknowledge His Lordship will result in hardship or loss; it simply means that you recognize your position in relationship to His. You fear Christ because you do not know Him. To know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to obey Him. Many are like Philip who walked with Jesus for three years, yet in the week before His passion, Jesus turned to him and said, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” (John 14:9, NIV). Submission leads to obedience and obedience is never difficult when you love Him.
Resource reading: John 6:60-71