Summary: A challenge to professing Christians who claim allegiance to Christ as Master of life, though they do not reveal His reign over their lives.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
All else being equal, we have as much power in our service before the Lord as we have obedience to His commands. We enjoy great music provided by some of the most talented musicians any church could hope to enjoy, wonderful fellowship, and I would like to think that we have sound preaching with careful exposition of the Word of God. However, I observe that we are utterly lacking in one major component of worship, and that is dependence upon the Master for power to win souls and to advance His cause. Our failure of obedience before the Master is our failure to pray together.
I know that the various Bible study groups pray together, and for that, I am grateful. I have no doubt that the members and adherents of this congregation pray. However, as is true of many, perhaps even most, contemporary evangelical churches, we no longer enjoy times of extended congregational prayer. We have convinced ourselves that we are too busy to come together specifically to pray as a congregation.
Our failure to pray as a congregation is rebellion against the will of the Master. Jesus taught that disciples “ought always to pray” [LUKE 18:1]. While speaking of events that will come upon the earth in the last days, He urged His followers to “stay awake at all times, praying” [LUKE 21:36]. His words are echoed by Paul who insisted that Christians are to “be constant in prayer” [ROMANS 12:12], to “continue steadfastly in prayer” [COLOSSIANS 4:2], and to “pray without ceasing” [1 THESSALONIANS 5:17]. The Apostle also taught disciples to be “praying at all times in the Spirit” [EPHESIANS 6:18].
We cannot seriously question that we are taught in the Word to be dependent upon the strength provided by the Lord, and that the means He has established for us to appropriate His strength is prayer. As we have witnessed in messages presented during the previous weeks, the model demonstrated by the apostolic churches was to invest time in corporate prayer as the congregation met specific challenges.
The message today confronts our lack of obedience as a congregation, challenging each of us to review what it means to call Jesus Lord. It is not directed at any one person, but it is rather intended to be an encouragement for each of us to review our relationship to Jesus Christ as Lord over our life. If there is one group confronted by the message, it is we who have received appointment as elders.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CALL JESUS “LORD?” “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’?” In the text, Jesus asked a penetrating question concerning His relationship to disciples. That question provided opportunity for the Master to warn disciples to take care to build their lives on a solid foundation.
On another occasion, Jesus affirmed that He was indeed Lord over His disciples. You will doubtless remember that before He observed the final Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus tied a towel around His waist and washed the disciples’ feet.
The Word of God informs us that “when He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to [the disciples], ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am’” [JOHN 13:12, 13]. Jesus Christ is Lord, and all who have been born from above have acknowledged that truth and live in obedience to Him.
In our English tongue, the word “Lord” enjoys a fine English heritage. The word is not borrowed from another tongue, as is true for so many of the words we use. It is derived from the Old English word hlāford, which in turn is derived from two words (hlāf (loaf) and weard (keeper)). So, at the first, a “lord” was the “keeper of the loaf.” He was the one who guarded the stores of a manor. In time, the word “lord” came to speak of one who is ruler, one to whom obedience and service is owed.
In the Greek, the word translated “Lord,” conveys a similar meaning. When applied in a non-religious context, the word kúrios speaks of a ruler—one who owns or controls property, such as slaves. In a religious context, however, the word is applied to God. In using the word in our text, Jesus identifies Himself with the Living God.
You know very well that the Word of God is quite clear in declaring, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart, one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation” [ROMANS 10:9, 10]. The Greek construction, together with the quotation from JOEL 2:32 in VERSE 13, suggests that “Lord” [Greek, kúrios] is to be taken as “the Lord,” that is, Yahweh.