Bread – Lord

October 23, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, October 23, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Lam. 2:8-15; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Matt. 12:1-14; Psalms 38,119:25-48

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“Jesus is Lord.” We say it; what does it mean?

I suspect that there are many ways of answering this question, and that the way one answers it reveals a lot about what we really think about who is Lord and what a Lord does.

For example, does a Lord set the law of the land? Maybe and maybe not, because the Lord may delegate that to others. Does a Lord create the land? This may be a more profound question, because creation is a product of God. But wait, I also create. Therefore, maybe I am a lord too. Does a Lord rule over an area? Yes, a Lord may rule over a land, but then so can I. So, although a Lord may be a law-giver, a creator, and a ruler, is this an adequate explanation for why we say the Jesus is Lord, not “a” lord but by implication “the” Lord?

Of course, one response to the question of what it means when we say “Jesus is Lord,” is to say simply that He is ruler of everything. And in and of itself, that is true but at the same time, does this compel us to behave or think any differently?

When I read the Scriptures for the day, one of the questions I always ask is whether there is anything in common between them. To do that, I often have to set them side by side and step back to see if there is a common theme or a common message. In today’s readings, we have Lamentations, where the writer laments the fallen state of Jerusalem, particularly focused (in my mind) on the starvation in the streets of infants and children. The reading begins with “The Lord determined to lay in ruins …” Lam. 2:8. In 1 Corinthians, Paul ends with this statement: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Cor. 15:58. In Matthew, Jesus heals the lame man on the Sabbath. After pointing out that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, Jesus “…said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.” Matt. 12:13.

In and of themselves, there is no apparent relationship among these three readings. One has to do with destruction, another with our actions, and a third with healing. And, yet, who is the actor in all of these – the Lord. Even in Corinthians, Paul is pointing out what our response should be to the knowledge that “in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

But it is more than action by God in the present. It is control by God of the consequences of our action.

When we say Jesus is Lord, maybe what we are really acknowledging is that Jesus is in control of the results. We do and He delivers.

When we disobey, He is Lord over the consequences of that disobedience. When we obey, He is Lord over the consequences of that obedience.

I think that this idea may have tremendous consequences for how we act in the world as Christians. We say that we have freedom in Christ. Isn’t that freedom enhanced when we know that we can preach boldly … and Jesus is Lord over what the response is? Isn’t that freedom enhanced when we know that we can love deeply … and Jesus is Lord over what happens next? Isn’t that freedom enhanced when we know that, when we make a mistake and are disobedient … Jesus is Lord over the consequences?

Don’t we hesitate to speak the truth in love, and love in spite of our neighbors and ourselves, in part because we fear the consequences of doing what Jesus commands? Why should we fear when it is not us who are lords over the consequences, but Jesus who is Lord over them?

If we believed, really believed, that Jesus was Lord over results, does Paul’s instructions to be steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the works of the Lord seem impossible?

I think we should try an experiment. Do what the Lord commands (be obedient) and let Him be Lord over the consequences of our actions. I wonder what kind of miracles we would see? Probably more than we can imagine.

So why don’t we? Probably because we fear the outcome. And we should fear the outcome if the outcome depends upon us. But it does it? Is Jesus Lord over the outcome, the results, the consequences? What say you?

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© 2013 GBF

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