To affirm Jesus as Lord is not merely an act of respect, not even an expression of servant to master; it is to bow the knee before Jesus in trust and commitment to His kingdom. To call Him “our” Lord is to align ourselves with others of kindred faith and count ourselves among the kingdom community of the people of God, confessing the crucified, now risen, Jesus for salvation.
“Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:11, NKJV)
The authority in view in the establishment of Jesus Christ as Lord is a kingdom authority. The angel Gabriel testified to this authority in his announcement to Mary about the Child to be born of her: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32–33).
This kingdom would stand in contrast to the kingdom of this fallen world. Unlike the kingdoms of human history that rise and fall, this kingdom would never end. It will be the kingdom of God and His Christ, a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy—a redemptive kingdom.
As God, Jesus has always been king, absolute Sovereign over all He has made. But, while Jesus has always been king in a creation sense, He has not always been king in a redemptive sense. It is by His incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension that He achieved His kingdom mission and so is made both Lord and Christ.
For Jesus to be Lord means that He has ushered in the kingdom that He spoke so much about in the Gospel accounts. He would often introduce His parables with the expression, “the kingdom is like…”
So when we speak in the Creed of Jesus as Lord, we recognize Him in His redemptive victory and kingdom authority. Moreover, we not only acknowledge Him as such, we pledge allegiance to Him, heeding the call found in Romans.
[I]f you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:9–13)