“What does it mean for the Lord Jesus Christ to have authority among the groups that call themselves by His name?”
To understand what is at the heart of Christ’s authority we need to come to an understanding of what is in His name. So before I begin to write on the authority of the Lordship of Jesus Christ amongst His believers let me first address that there is something very significant in the name of Jesus.
Something about that Name
By Frank Maycock
When my wife and I first found out that we were going to have a child, one of the major factors for us was his or her name. At the time my wife was expecting our son, who is now 27 years old, I was working as a youth pastor and was placed in charge of 125 youths in junior high. As we were discussing the name of our son, my wife would mention a name but I had images of someone from the youth group with that name. Choosing a name was not an easy task. We did not want just any name for our son, but we wanted something Biblical, a name that had a powerful image in our mind.
As parents we tend to choose names that mean something to us. In the movie The Namesake a young man was given a name that in many ways embarrassed him. The family was from India and they moved to the United States before their son was conceived. They named the child Gogol, after the author of a book the father was reading when he was in a serious train accident. The son wanted to change his name because he wanted a name that was more accepted by others. The father then shared how the name Gogol speaks of the wonderful gifts that have come to him ever since he first read that book. Names take on meaning, they matter to many families, and they speak of history or memories. Names often times have tremendous significance to the family and to others.
We see the importance of names in Scripture as well. Many times the Lord directed a person what to name his child. We read in Hosea 1:3-4: “So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to him: ‘Call his name Jezreel, for in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu.'” The name became a message to the people as to what the Lord was going to do. Each child of Hosea was given a name to communicate what the Lord was going to do and how He felt.
In Matthew 2:20-21; We read “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins'”
The Greek name for Jesus is the equivalent of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means, “The Lord shall save.” We read that proclaimed in Matt 1:21 “…For He will save His people from their sins.” God the Father was establishing the credentials for His Son. In His name we discover not only the power that comes to those who believe but also salvation power that changes hearts and lives for those who believe and call upon that name.
I want to stop and focus on the importance of the words that are being used in Matthew. The first thing we need to look at is the command to Joseph when the angel said to him, “you shall call his name Jesus.” God the Father through the angel gave Jesus his name because He wants us to know his purpose for us – to save us. The purpose of coming to earth was not only to perform glorious miracles, or to simply show us what he is capable of, but up front God’s intentions are known in the name of Jesus. He came to take away all our sin. Christ, before time existed, spoke mankind into being and then came in the flesh to save us so that we can continue to glorify Him.
The Word of God grabs the essence of the power of Jesus’ name in Phil 2:5-10. In verses 8-10 we read, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also had highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and those under the earth.” The Word of God is speaking of the power to save in Jesus’ name. That is why He is glorified. For centuries people have stood in awe that the God who created the heavens and the earth came in the form of a man and died so we might be saved. His name, and personhood deserves our respect, our allegiance and our very being.
The second word in Matthew 2:21 that deserves our interest is the word “will.” If you are a child of God – one who has repented of your sins and has trusted Christ with your life – then you have entered into what is known as regeneration. It is in that process that we experience what Jesus did, does and will continue to do for the elect. It doesn’t matter your age, background, skin color or education. I have heard people say that Jesus won’t save him or her because of what they have done. That is shame talking; Jesus says what He will do because of His very nature and power that is exemplified in His name. He will heal the broken-hearted and transform the mind of those who are willing to trust in Him as their Lord and Savior. This is what He has done, and will continue to do. He seeks out those who are lost.
If you minimize the power of the name of Jesus then there is a great chance that you minimize the person of Christ in your life. Some simply say that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” That, my dear brothers and sisters, minimizes the power of His name and should be repented of. He is more than a reason for a season: He is more than simply a person you can pray to. He is more than just a friend. If you ever want to get life right you have to make Jesus the reason for your life. Life is not about family, friends, jobs and hobbies. If anything takes first place in your heart and life other than Jesus Christ you are being deceived. Life is all about Jesus. Too often in the hearts and lives of believers Jesus is just a name in the rolodex, only someone to be called on when they feel they need something.
The question that people need to address is how much ownership (Lordship) have they given to Jesus? Is Jesus simply the filler of your life where you can use Him as you choose? When you want something do you simply pray in His name? As a believer in Jesus every decision has to include Jesus or else He is not Lord of that moment. Every prayer you pray has to have His will in mind or else He is not Lord of that prayer. He has to be a believer’s substance for life and not simply filler on a Sunday morning or when you need something. The very reason for our existence is to magnify and glorify the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
With this in mind let us now take a look at the question at hand. When as believers we come to experience the power of the name of Jesus we come to understand His authority. It has been said many times and in many ways that there can only be one leader. I work at an organization that has many people in positions of leadership but there is truly only one leader, the executive director. He is the one on whom the major decisions fall.
When it comes to spiritual things, our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is no different. Some seem to operate, whether consciously or unconsciously, with the idea that Jesus is Lord as long as He does what they want, when they want, the way they want it. To admit that He isn’t Lord is to admit to others that their faith is conditional. So many put on a mask in their minds and with their mouths that He is Lord and He has authority, but in reality they are deceiving themselves and others.
If Jesus was Lord of the church it would not be in the chaos that is today. The church would love more, show more grace and mercy, and seek forgiveness while forgiving others. The church would be investing in those who have fallen and looking for restoration; or praying for the homeless, clothing those who are naked and feeding those who are hungry. People would be going to church and simply worshipping the Sovereign Lord, not worrying about what he has to do next or why the church service is going longer than usual. If Jesus were Lord we would be sharing the Gospel with the lost and inviting the stranger into our homes.
The question that we need to be dealing with is why doesn’t He have authority? Simply put, it is because Jesus is not Lord. If He is not Lord of our lives, the church cannot get to the place where God’s people can experience His power. Each believer needs to honestly look at his or her life and ask, Is He truly Lord of your emotions, Lord of your thoughts, and Lord of your actions?
The fact that needs to be recognized is that Jesus has authority whether we like it or not. That authority was given by God the Father. We read in John 5:24-30: “I tell you the truth; whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to life, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
We read that Jesus has been given authority both over life and death. God the Father has given that authority to Jesus to be executed. Jesus is life and we can either receive or reject Him. If you reject Him you will see for yourself one day that you made a bad choice, and you will wish that you made the right choice, giving Him control of your life.
What then should our response be to His authority? “20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”(Romans 6:20-23).
The Word of God tells us that we need to be slaves to righteousness. This can only be achieved when we become willing slaves of Jesus Christ. The society which has impacted the church today wants us to believe that we are slaves to no one. The church has moved away from slave talk and instead talks about what it means to be a servant. Servants have choice, but slaves don’t. As slaves to Jesus Christ the church needs to see and say that they have no choice, because He is Lord – Lord of my choices, Lord of my pocketbook, Lord of family, Lord of the internet, Lord or my music, Lord of my television, and Lord of my attitude; in essence Lord of everything in my life. I am His slave.
The church does not want to hear that. It wants to run from that kind of language because it makes people uncomfortable. People do not want to be a slave to anyone, especially someone who does not give them what they want, when they want it. People would rather be their own Lord than a slave to someone else.
If you have this kind of attitude, you lose sight of the meaning of being a slave of the Gospel. The Gospel is about love, life and salvation. The Father knows what is best. The Father will discipline the church to make it more receptive to receiving His love and His will. In order for you to be recipients of the Lord’s great plan for your life you need to be willing to continue to surrender to Him and be His son slave. In Isaiah 55:8 we read; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” To be a slave is to admit that you do not understand what God is doing, and what you see doesn’t make sense, but you will trust and obey. It is then that you are effective in seeing and discovering more of what the Lord has to offer.
You live in a world that is trying to control your thoughts and actions. You need to be renewed as God’s word says in Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
A few weeks ago I heard of an elderly lady who stood up in front of her church and testified that for the first time she had accepted Jesus as Lord of her life. This shocked the church because she was one of their strongest members. She looked the part and acted the part, but her life was void of His Lordship. The transformation for her was her changing from someone who knew the Bible to one who had the indwelling presence of the Word imbedded in her life. She went from someone who knew about Jesus to becoming a slave to Jesus. She stopped worshipping the created and started to worship the Creator.
So many things can get in the way of making Jesus Lord and people slaves to that Lordship. The best way to know if you are slave to Jesus is to ask the questions: Are you more passionate about your hobbies than the Lord? Are you more interested in the committees you serve on in church than worshipping the Creator? Do you stay away from church because your children are coming to visit instead of giving worship priority? Do you tithe 10 percent to the local church? If you are struggling with any one of these or things like these then you are struggling against being a slave to Jesus. You can’t keep one foot in the world and the other in the kingdom and call Jesus your Lord. He wants both feet established in the work of the kingdom.
To name the name of Jesus is to be a slave to the risen King. It is to know that there is nothing more important than Him and His will for your life. To be a slave is the greatest place you can be because only then do you get to experience what it really means to be son or daughter of the risen King. To be a slave is to know what it’s like to call out “Abba Father” and to truly know God .