The Captain of My Soul: Jesus the Lord
The Master of the Universe
There is a very famous Victorian poem, written by English poet William Ernest Henley in 1875 and later published in 1888. The poem is called 'Invictus' and is often quoted at High school and college graduations in order to motivate the graduating classes. It goes like this:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
It is definitely very stirring and does make you want to go out and conquer the world. The only trouble is the fact that it happens to be untrue!
Unlike Henley, the Christian knows that we aren't the master of anything and neither are we the captains of our own souls. The Bible teaches just the opposite. If we aren't believers in Jesus then Scripture tells us that we are slaves to sin. When we are saved, we allow Jesus Christ to deliver us from the slave market of sin and death and take over our lives, making us slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:12-23). And whether we realize it fully or not at the time, we are changing allegiances. Jesus Christ begins to take His rightful place as Lord of our lives.
That is why one of the most important questions that a person can ask in life is: "Who is Jesus Christ?" Well, the Bible answers that question. It calls Him the Son of God, God in the flesh, and Savior of the world. But the most used term in the New Testament for Jesus is the Greek word kurios, translated Lord. It is interesting that He is called Savior only 25 times in the New Testament. However, He is called Lord 600 times.
And what we should know is that some of those 600 come from the lips of Jesus Himself. On one occasion, when demonstrating to His disciples servanthood by washing their feet, He told them this:
“Do you know what I have done for you? You call me teacher and Lord, and rightly so because I am. So if I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." (John 13:12b-14).
So, in light of the New Testament teaching on the Lordship of Jesus, what are we to conclude? You may or may not be aware of a media franchise that was created by Mattel in order to sell toys. It originally came out in the 1980's and was known as the Masters of the Universe. These superheroes were lead by a person named He-Man who is supposedly the strongest man in the Universe. Well, that is a mythical world. In the real world and the real Universe, the genuine and only Master of the Universe is our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's take a look at what that actually means.
I. Meaning of the Word Lord
In the New Testament world, although the term could be used of a husband, or it could be used in a polite way to say 'sir', it usually meant a person who is a master, possessor, supreme authority, king, or owner.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrews considered the name of Yahweh, or Jehovah, too sacred to be pronounced, so wherever that sacred name was used the writers would substitute 'Adonai' which is the Hebrew equivalent of Lord. That was to say that Yahweh was master, possessor, supreme authority, king, and owner.
When Greek translators were looking for a word to use for 'Adonai' they used the term 'Kurios'. That same word is used of Jesus in the New Testament, which indicates that the New Testament writers equated Jesus with the Kurios, or the God of the Old Testament. They believed Jesus to be God. It is highly unlikely that any good Jew would tell us to bow down before a mere man. It would have been considered blasphemy, but that is just what Paul says in Philippians that everyone will one day do to Christ. He says:
"....God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11)
In our society today, we balk at the thought that anyone could possess us, or be our Lord. Freedom is valuable to us and we don't want to bow down to anyone or anything. Our desire is to be free and independent.
Most don't mind so much calling Jesus Savior. But to call Him Lord is a bit much. They like being saved from sin, and love going to Heaven. But to have someone rule over them makes many people cringe.
However, the Bible tells us that we don't choose to make Jesus Lord. He already is Lord. What we must do is recognize that fact and bow before Him in every area of our lives. Whether we do it today or not, all will one day be forced to bow before Him. When we give our lives to the Lord Jesus, it is not a matter of commitment to Him, but surrender. A person who is committed is in control. A person who is surrendered relinquishes control completely.
Paul equates our confession of Jesus as Lord with salvation when he says in Romans 10:9,10 that:
"if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
From these verses, it would appear that taking Jesus as Savior is indeed accepting His Lordship in our lives. Although the actual working out of that in our lives, and learning to relinquish self to Him, could take a lifetime.
In looking at how far and wide the Lordship of Jesus Christ extends, we need to go once again to the Apostle Paul. He says it extends over the present creation and the new creation to come.
II. Jesus is Lord of Creation
Paul, in the book of Colossians, points out Christ's Lordship, demonstrating that He is both the creator and sustainer of the whole universe. He says:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things have been created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:15-17).
The word image is from a Greek word which means the exact likeness, or exact representation. In other words, He is the very form of God and has been for all eternity (Philippians 2:6). When you see Christ, you see God.
The term firstborn here has nothing to do with Christ being created, for He created all things. In Jewish culture, the word firstborn could refer to chronological age, but more often it refers to position or rank. The firstborn was the ranking son who had received the right of inheritance from the Father. This shows here that Jesus is the highest in rank over all creation.
His rank, as it says, comes from His creation of the universe, but He also holds things together. He literally maintains the power and balance necessary for life's existence. If it were ever possible for Jesus to temporarily look away from this universe in which we live, it would cease to exist. That is how central He is to it.
III. Jesus is the Lord of the New Creation
However, not only is Jesus the Lord of all of creation but by means of His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus became the head of the new creation as well, which He caused to exist. The Church, the Body of Christ, consists of all that have accepted Him by faith in this age in which we live today. Paul tells us this:
"He is also head of the Body, the Church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself, will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven" (Colossians 1:17-20).
Those who have accepted Jesus are said to be 'in Christ' and are ourselves a 'new creation.' He takes away our sin and gives us His righteousness (II Corinthians 5:17-21). And we will spend eternity with Him when we are caught up to meet Him in the clouds in an event known as the Rapture. We'll be praising the Lord for all that He has done for us, enjoying His presence and serving the one who gave Himself for us forever (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).
It was Abraham Kuyper who once said:
"There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, 'This is mine! This belongs to me!'"
The truth is that we belong to the Lord Jesus. Most people take the Lordship of Jesus Christ far too lightly. Scripture teaches that it should not merely be something theoretical, which we only talk about. Rather it should affect our entire life. Paul says:
"Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him" (Colossians 2:6).
And later he tells us:
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (Colossians 3:17).
Paul, in Galatians, says how his life is completely different because of his identification with Jesus. He writes:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
I love what A.W. Tozer had to say about this passage. He tells us that those who are crucified with Christ have three different marks. He writes:
1. they are facing only one direction,
2. they can never turn back, and
3. they no longer have plans of their own.
Sadly, when we bow down before Jesus as Lord and lay down everything at His feet, we may think we've lost it all. However, He gives it back to us to use, sanctified and beautiful for His glory. He wants to take our dirty shack of a life and make it into a palace, fit for His dwelling.
It is my prayer that from this day on, we will all vow to give to the Lord Jesus every square inch of the life that He already owns. Without hesitation, Without reservation. Those who do will never regret it.
For, in the end, He gives them the true joy that their longing hearts were searching for all along. So, if you want true freedom, give yourself over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Only then will you truly begin to live!
© 2012 Jeff Shirley