When Jesus was finishing up the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6 he makes an interesting statement:
“Why do you call me, Lord Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)
Jesus goes on to share the parable of the wise and foolish builders, how the wise person is one who hears the words of Jesus and puts them into action in contrast to the foolish person who hears the words of Jesus and ignores them. As powerful and memorable as the parable might be the meat of the message was delivered in the preceding statement. Jesus holds no punches and he doesn’t make excuses or accusations, he simply asks a very important question, “Why do you call me Lord if you are not going to do what I say?”
The Lordship of Jesus is a central claim to the Christian faith. One of the first creeds of the early church became the declaration that Jesus is Lord. In a world and time when Caesar was lord and every authority and every will bowed to the lordship of Caesar, Christians quickly found themselves in trouble when they put someone higher on the throne than Caesar. The early church decided that Jesus was the highest authority, Jesus was the one to be honored and followed, Jesus was supreme, Jesus was Lord of every aspect of life.
For Christians today the claim is no different. Often before baptism an individual will proclaim something to the effect of “I believe Jesus is the son of God and I want him to be Lord of my life.” Every week in church Christians sing praise songs in which a central theme is the phrase Jesus is Lord. Many people have pictures on their walls or magnets on their refrigerators that in some way proclaim that they believe Jesus is Lord. Many people, including myself, have declared their allegiance to Jesus above all other things. And maybe that is why the sting of Jesus’s question is so painful. Why do we call him Lord and not do what he says?
- Why is it so difficult to learn to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? It seems that often we would rather hold a grudge and hang on to our anger. We feel justified in this because we have been wronged in a way that has cut us and hurt us to such an extreme that we fear we can never recover. Yet Jesus never said, Love your enemies unless they’ve hurt you really bad and then you don’t have to. He said love your enemies, period. If Jesus is Lord, we have to obey.
- Why is it so difficult to let others be first? It seems like our culture is always pushing us to be first. So many times we grasp after power, we want to make decisions, we want to be in charge, we want to have things our way. We long for the best seats, the places of honor, the recognition of others. Yet Jesus says to submit to others, let them make the decisions, give in and in doing so honor God. Jesus says that the first will be last and the last will be first, that those who seek their own lives will lose them but that those who lose their lives will find them. If Jesus is Lord, then trust him enough to not grasp for control but to submit to others.
The list could go on and on, of things that Jesus has said to do but we find ways around. We may not lie but we bend the truth, or only tell half of it, or make excuses in order to make ourselves look better. We may not commit adultery but we take a second or third or fourth glance at that pretty person walking down the street, or at that magazine while in the checkout counter. We speak kind words to someone when addressing them personally but have no problems gossiping about them behind their back, or slandering them on Facebook.
Maybe no one else has a problem with this and I’m only speaking to myself but the words of Jesus hit me like a ton of bricks last week when I read them. It’s not the first time I’ve heard them, but for some reason they stuck out like never before. And they reminded me that following Jesus is really simple. It doesn’t take advanced degrees in Theology or long drawn out explanations. One doesn’t have to study for years and become a master of biblical knowledge who can answer any question that is raised. It really comes down to a basic understanding, Is Jesus Lord? And if the answer is yes than you only have one option, obey him and follow.
“Why do you call me Lord Lord and do not do what I say?”
Almighty and Everlasting Father, may your power and might always go before me and follow after me that in all things I may honor you above all else, and keep me from sin so that I may be an instrument of your peace. In the name of your Son and in the Power of your Spirit I pray, AMEN