The good news of Jesus Christ focuses on His story: He was born of a virgin, fulfilled the Law and proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God while on earth, was betrayed, condemned, and crucified, and was raised from the dead with power by God on the third day (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Yet the story does not end there, and it has not ended yet, even to this day (cf. Ephesians 3:11). Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection have led us to the present: the great Kingdom of God has come!
Forty days after Jesus was raised from the dead, He ascended to the Father in Heaven (Acts 1-11). It is at this time that His name was exalted above every name, and He was given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18, Philippians 2:9-11). Ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon the twelve Apostles just as Jesus predicted, and Peter proclaimed to the Jews in Jerusalem that the Jesus whom they crucified God made both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:1-36). The message that Jesus is Lord was a constant theme in the early preaching of the Apostles (cf. Acts 3:11-26, 4:8-12, 5:29-32, 10:34-43, etc.). Years later, when the Apostle John is granted the Revelation, he sees a powerful vision of Jesus the Risen Lord (Revelation 1:12-17), defeating His enemies with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 19:11-16).
All of these things took place according to the eternal purpose of God in Jesus the Christ (Ephesians 3:11). Soon after His resurrection, Jesus indicated to His disciples that the prophets indicated that the Christ would first suffer and then enter into His glory (Luke 24:25-26). The Jews all understood the many passages that predicted the reign of the Christ, especially passages like Isaiah 2:1-4, 9:2-7, 11:1-9, among others, yet believed that the Messiah would have this rule while on earth. God did not intend it that way! Instead, Jesus is exalted to the position of Lord and high priest in the order of Melchizedek on account of His obedience and suffering, being exalted after having experienced humiliation (Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 4:14-5:10). The Father grants Jesus all authority, and then, after He fulfills the Law and the Prophets, He dies on the cross, is raised from the dead with power, and ascends again to the Father.
Since the end of all things has not yet taken place, we firmly believe that Jesus remains Lord today just as He was Lord in the first century. Jesus is considered the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16), and much is said in the New Testament regarding His Kingdom. A kingdom represents the area over which a king rules. Jesus is the King, but where is His Kingdom? In a very real sense, Jesus’ Kingdom involves all of heaven and earth, since He has all authority over them, everyone will eventually bow the knee to Him, and all will be judged on the basis of His standard (Matthew 28:18, John 12:48, Acts 17:30-31). Yet the Bible makes clear that in a very specific sense, Jesus’ Kingdom involves all of those who submit themselves to Him, a group commonly referred to as the ekklesia, or church (Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 1:13, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Hebrews 12:28, 2 Peter 1:11, Revelation 1:6, 9). These passages make it quite clear that Jesus’ Kingdom is here and now, present among all those who submit their will to His!
Jesus is Lord: this the Scriptures make clear. Because Jesus is Lord, it is appropriate for us to submit to Him. This is the message that Peter preaches to the Jews in Acts 2: he does not emphasize the benefits that Jesus would provide for the people, but establishes the argument that since God has made Jesus Lord and Christ, we must serve Him! If Jesus is Lord, then we must realize that He is the one calling the shots. Christianity is not a democracy or even an oligarchy: it is a monarchy, with Jesus as Ruler and we as His servants (Luke 17:7-10, John 3:36). It is for us to do what He says to do and not try to “cut corners” or to justify disobedience in any way. We would do well to respect His authority and should not try to challenge it: consider Matthew 7:21-23 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 and the fate of those who do not do the will of the Father!
Jesus is Lord. He will judge everyone on the basis of what they have done in the flesh (Romans 2:5-10). Every knee will bow to Him (Philippians 2:9-11). Disobedience, therefore, is not really an option. Sure, God has granted us free will, and we can choose to disobey God, but the consequence of condemnation remains. If we really understand that Jesus is Lord, and we know that we must serve Him, we will automatically cling to the good and abhor what is evil, because we must do that, or else (cf. Romans 12:9)! We can disobey and rebel, but none of us will get away without confessing Jesus at some point, and the Bible makes it clear that it goes much better for those who confess Jesus as Lord in life and not afterward (Matthew 10:33-33, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)!
Many take comfort in the view of Jesus as the tender Shepherd who would not hurt a flea, or as an all-powerful Santa Claus. While Jesus is all-powerful, merciful, and compassionate, He is also the Lord with white wool hair, eyes as flames of fire, feet as burnished bronze, and a voice like many waters (Revelation 1:13-16). He would have all men come to Him and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), but for those who persist in disobedience, there is much reason to fear (Hebrews 10:26-31)!
The Bible attests that Jesus is Lord. He currently rules in His Kingdom until He returns. Since He is Lord, we must obey Him: if not now by choice, it will be later by force, and whatever we might suffer for obeying Jesus today cannot compare with the misery we will experience later for disobedience today. Let us obey Jesus our Lord, and be part of His Kingdom today!
Ethan R. Longhenry