Jesus is both Saviour and Lord
As we take the journey of following Jesus, along the way we start to see who Jesus really is. When Jesus was on earth, there were many opinions as to his identity. Some thought he was Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets back from the dead (Matt.16:13-15). Peter received a revelation that Jesus was “the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God (Matt.16:16-19).”
The disciple’s belief in the divinity of Christ (the understanding that he was not only fully human but also fully God) emerged over a period of time, culminating in the time of the resurrection (note Thomas’ proclamation, “My Lord and my God!”) and then Jesus’ ascension back to heaven to the right hand of the Father. Through all of these experiences, Jesus’ followers came to see Jesus as the Saviour of the world (the one who gave his life a ransom for all, providing forgiveness for sins) and also the Lord of the world.
Notice the culmination of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).” This understanding in the identity of Jesus calls forth our faith (placing our trust in Jesus as forgiver and Saviour) AND our obedience (submitting our lives to him as our Leader and Lord).
When it comes to this area of obedience, there are two potential problems. The first is that of “non-following believers” - people who name the name of Christ but whose lives do not reflect him. Some people see Jesus as a person who forgives them of their sin and guarantees them access to heaven when they die but nothing more. They live their own lives, maybe even trying to do the right thing, but they don’t take their ongoing following of Jesus and obedience to his commands seriously.
The second problem is that of “following non-believers” – people who think that keeping a whole list of rules and regulations equates to a relationship with God. This ends up in religion without relationship. In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (better called ‘the parable of the two lost sons’), the older brother never disobeyed the father, but he really did not know the heart of the Father. His obedience was one of joyless duty. This results in the religiosity and legalism that characterized the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.
More tomorrow ...