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Jesus Christ is Lord (II)

In the previous theme we began the approach to the term “Lord”. We have also realized how the Word of God reveals to us in a clear way, without leaving place for doubts that Jesus Christ is the Lord, something that for us, Christians, is obvious and clearly deductible from the Scriptures, but which is not recognized by other religions.

In this theme, continuing with the approach to the term “Lord”, we shall broach in a slight way two points that shall help us to understand better the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Some of the words we shall use had a different connotation in the course of history, for historical, social or other reasons. At times they look like simple shades, but are of help to shed light at the time of understanding the exact meaning of things. So, moving with time, to the days when the Sacred Texts were written, to know the existing social context and the concrete meaning of each term, can be of use for us to better capture the meaning and the reach of the Revealed Word. This happens with the word “Lord”, “Kyrios” in Greek, frequently used in the New Testament. Today, we shall get a better understanding of the term “Lord” when applied to Jesus Christ, when considering: a) the existence of slavery in the Roman Empire, and b) the idolization of the Roman Emperors.
a) The existence of slavery in the Roman Empire.
In those days, the slaves were indeed a social class. In the Roman Empire the slaves had the condition of things and not of human beings, so their masters could do with them anything they wanted to do, practically without any limitation. They could be objects of commerce, of ill-treatment, could even be killed. The slaves had no rights and were under the absolute power of their owners. They were at the disposal of their masters twenty-four hours a day, doing all sorts of work for them. Their masters and bosses expected submission, loyalty, devotion and faithfulness from their slaves.
So, when the Authors of the Books of the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, referred to the term “Lord” (“Kyrios”), all men from their time were thinking in terms of the usual relationship between masters and slaves, the rights of some and the duties of others. This relationship gives us a series of clues to understand better the meaning of the term Lord when applied to Jesus Christ. Now, as we shall see in the coming themes, our good luck is that Jesus Christ is a Good Lord who does not exercise his authority in a despotic or arbitrary way: on the contrary, he comes to give us his life: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
b) The idolization of the Roman Emperors.
The Roman Emperors were often treated as gods. Along the Roman Empire, the cult of the emperor was present and at times he was worshipped the way pagan gods were. The idolized Caesar was called “Lord”. Naturally, he was not addressed in that way by the Christians. Like the prophet Daniel, who did not kneel except before the True and Only God, whom he was serving, despite the edict promulgated by King Darius (Dan 6), the early Christians, faithful to the only Lord, did not bend their knees before the Roman Emperors, nor did they surrender to any authority presumed to be absolute besides Jesus Christ. They had learned what Peter had said to the Elders, Scribes, and High Priests: that it was necessary to obey God, instead obeying men (cf Ac 4:19). In fact, the early Christians had to face a somehow tricky situation when someone greeted them with one of the greetings of that time: “Caesar is the Lord!” They did not reply saying “Yes, Caesar is the Lord!” like the majority of the people did, but they would say, “No, Jesus Christ is the Lord!”, and such affirmation did not enjoy the favor nor the approval of the political authorities of the Empire.
In this context, not easy at all for the Christians of those days, without a hesitant heart, and driven by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter addressed the thousands of Jews and inhabitants of Jerusalem, proclaiming with great courage and self-assurance: “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Ac 2:36). This meant risk for life. Many inhabitants of Jerusalem were listening to him -in fact some three thousand people got converted at that time (cf Ac 2:41)- and surely the proclamation of Peter did not go unheard by the Roman authorities. But this was not the Peter, the fearful disciple of the Passion time that was speaking, but it was the Holy Spirit through him who made the proclamation.
At this time, with a better knowledge of the facts, in fear and trembling, as well with joy, and coming closer to the Word of truth, we believe and state with the apostle Paul that “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:6), and with the indispensable help of the Holy Spirit we say “Jesus is Lord” (cf 1 Cor 12:3) and will always be, because he has all authority, in himself, yesterday, today and forever.

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