We watched a small portion of the US Republican Convention last night. This morning it occurred to me that if Donald Trump becomes president, there will be people who respect him because they support and agree with him, and people who must call him ‘the President’ whether they respect him or not. No matter what their opinion is, the president IS the President.
After Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He said to them . . .
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.” (John 13:13)
“Lord” was usually a title of respect something like our word “Sir” rather than a designation of authority. In the ancient world, calling someone “Master” was more like calling them “Sir” rather than our contemporary definition of the word “Lord.”
However, there is a sense throughout the Gospels that the disciples were thinking of Jesus as an authority figure as well as ‘Sir’ or even ‘Master.’ They knew He was worthy of their respect. This verse seems to have that sense of “Lord” meaning someone who has authority over all things, rather than a mere title.
That said, whether I call Him that or not, Jesus IS Teacher and Lord. My opinion does not change who He is. This is not a popular way of thinking. Many assume that if they think a person is bad or good or anything else, that opinion makes it true.
How I think about another person affects both of us. If I don’t like that person, they may treat me with a different attitude because of it. However, how I think about Jesus affects the way I respond to Him, but it does not change who He is. The more I get to know Him, the more He changes me, but He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
But my sinful self must change. Wanting to do my own thing always goes against His instructions and His commands. Chambers says Jesus never insists on having authority but leaves people free to make their choices. While this seems true from a human perspective, the Bible says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21) He is Lord of all. Regardless of the ‘freedoms’ we think we have, His purposes will stand.
Chambers says that if the Lord insists upon obedience, He would become a taskmaster and cease to have authority. I understand what he is trying to say, that forced obedience on my part is not true obedience, but I do not agree that Jesus never insists on obedience. My experience with Him presents many occasions where His insistence came through loud and clear. His will is done — regardless of my kicking and screaming. He IS Lord; I am not.
Obedience is a bad word only for a rebellious heart. Calling Jesus Teacher and Master is resisted only by those who refuse to learn His ways, refuse to respect Him, and refuse to cooperate, but eventually every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, even those who don’t want to do it.