Holy Week MeditationsMarch 16, 2008
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
If you move among Evangelical/Fundamentalist circles, then the odds are that you probably couldn’t count the many times this verse is quoted. You might even have heard this interspersed inside sermons that told people about the “easy” way of salvation. In fact, this verse might have also been cited as a reason for you to say the Sinner’s Prayer, which for many has become the passport to Evangelical heaven.
Yet that verse, if taken in the proper context, teaches nothing about how easy it is to be saved. Anyone can say that Jesus is Lord using his mouth but for him to say it in truth and conviction, that is to agree about it fully, is anything but easy. This is because the confession that “Jesus is Lord” doesn’t start and end with the confession. For you to truly say it, you must believe in it, and with that belief naturally comes action, which is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Jesus must become your Lord, Master, or Controller, of all that you have and all the other areas of his life. By extension, this would mean that Jesus must be Lord of your wife, your children, your possessions, your house, your time, your thoughts, your words, your actions, your money, your goals, your ambitions, your plans, and even the time of your death; such that you can claim that …You are not your own; you were bought at a price… 1 Cor. 19,20.
There is nothing is easy about this teaching. In fact, the cost that was paid so that it would be possible for anyone to confess that Jesus is Lord and be saved is far from cheap. Christ himself had to leave the comforts, prestige, possessions, power, honor, and glory that he enjoyed in heaven to associate with sinful, rebellious, and hell deserving man by becoming man. Association with man and becoming a man, however, were not enough. He further carried man’s sin, which is that which causes man to offend God.
Sin is something that he hates. Yet he carried it in place of man. For Christ to carry it in the cross is analogous, yet still desperately lacking in degree, to someone who hates cockroaches but has to carry them so that others may no longer carry them. Furthermore, because Jesus carried sin, he had to die as is what is required as the penalty for sin. We know that he eventually rises again, but the fact still remains that God, the Source of Life, at one point in history, suffered and died. That is the price of our salvation.
To call Christ Lord is to give up everything to him, to be prepared to go where he sends, and to even die and suffer for him. To call Christ Lord is to treat him as king, such that we must follow every command he gives. We cannot say “No” to a king. Neither, can we say “Yes, but…”. In fact in Christ’s kingdom, we don’t even have rights as we know it in democratic settings. The only right we have in the kingdom is the right to obey. To the king’s every command, we can only say “Yes”.
This is a hard teaching, and for all practical purpose is impossible. The rich, young ruler could not accept this. Jesus knew what this teaching entailed and said, “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
It is impossible for natural man to confess that Jesus is Lord. It is God Himself who causes us to say it. Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him… (John 6:44)” Jesus recognized that only a few will follow him yet he still calls for those who would listen:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12
I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:29,30
And so as you are reminded of the events of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection as we commemorate them in the Holy Week, remember also the reasons why he came to Earth. He came to obey the will of the Father. He came to find lost man, and to reclaim him for himself. He came to suffer. He came to die. He came that he might lead you to life.
Jesus endured the cross. He scorned its shame. He refused to dwell on his wounds. He refused to dwell on the taunts against him. He refused to dwell on his fatigue. He refused to dwell on his pain. Furthermore, he refused to dwell on the sin of the whole world that he carried on the way.
Instead, he focused on the joy that was set before him. With every step he took, and as every step drew him nearer to death, he knew that he would be reunited with his Father and the Holy Spirit once again. He knew that he had done a good job, that he had done the Father’s will. He knew that through this act, it would finally be possible for holy God and sinful man to be reconciled once again.
If Jesus is not yet your Lord, come to him and make him your Lord. Give him your everything as he gave everything he had for you. Salvation is free. You only have to receive what Christ is offering, but to do that you have to give up everything you are holding so that there would be room for it. Leave your hurts, your pains, your secrets, your sins to him. Offer him all of your strength, your mind, your heart, your spirit, your possessions, and all your responsibilities. Be reconciled to God,turn from your sins, and share in the joy of Christ’s triumph over sin.
And as you make your decision, I would like to close with the words of two brave men, who obeyed God’s call, and sold themselves to slavery so that Christ would be preached to slaves:
May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering!