Jesus is God and Man, Lord and Savior.
This question stands at the heart of our faith. It is in fact the central truth that holds together the entire story of the Bible.
In our last session, we discussed the person of Jesus, who is both fully God and fully Man. He is fully divine and fully human. In this session, then, we address the work of Jesus. As we study the scriptures, two major themes emerge regarding the role that Jesus plays in God’s great, eternal plan. He is both Lord and Savior.
1. Jesus is Lord
Since Jesus is God, He is Lord of all that is. He participated fully in the creation of the universe. In our last session, we noted that the apostle John makes this point explicitly. In this session, we can take a little deeper look at what he teaches:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3
We can compare this statement to the creation story in Genesis:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.’” Genesis 1:1-3
The “words” used in Genesis are now personified, as the “Word” in the gospel of John. John is creatively telling us that Jesus was there, in the Genesis account, right at the beginning, when the world came into being.
Jesus is Lord of all creation, then, first because He is the Creator. But He was not just there at beginning. He did not create the universe only to abandon it. He remains actively engaged in His creation as its sovereign King. The Bible often uses the language of kings and kingdoms to describe the authority and power that Jesus maintains over His creation, and this theme develops over time.
In our previous session, we noted that the terms “Messiah” and “Christ” both mean “anointed one”. The anointing refers to oil poured onto someone as a symbol, both of God’s calling upon their life, and as a promise of the Spirit’s power enabling them to fulfill that calling.
King David was one of those anointed ones, and God makes this promise to him:
“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:16
God continues to reiterate this promise through His prophets, even centuries later after His people rebelled. Through the prophet, Isaiah, for example, God says:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
In the New Testament, then, we receive confirmation that Jesus is in fact this child. Note, for example, what an angel declares to Mary:
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:31-33
And Andrew likewise confirms this truth to his brother, Simon Peter:
“‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ).” John 1:41
After Jesus is resurrected and He ascends to be with the Father, the New Testament writers remind His followers that one day Jesus would return to reveal Himself fully as the Lord and King of all creation. The Apostle Paul writes:
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
And, in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes:
“With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:8-10
As we look forward to this end, when all things are unified under Christ, He will be clearly revealed as Lord of All. In the last book of the Bible, John receives this revelation:
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15
In this passage, we see that all “kingdoms”, meaning all peoples and all cultures, must one day acknowledge that Jesus is the eternal King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
2.1. Promised in the Old Testament
The Problem of Sin
As Lord of all creation, Jesus is also its Savior.
God’s good work of creation is quickly compromised when the first human couple disobey His commands. The consequences for this disobedience are severe and far reaching. We still see them today: broken relationships, broken bodies, broken lives and broken societies. The apostle Paul summarizes the problem in just a few words:
“The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23
Despite this death sentence, however, God will not abandon His creation. Throughout the long story of the Bible, He promises to save His people from their own self-inflicted judgment. Over time, it becomes clear that this salvation will come through a Person.
We get a hint of this truth right at the very beginning. In the Genesis story, the enemy speaks through a serpent to tempt the first humans into sin. God therefore condemns both the serpent and the enemy . He says:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring a and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Someday, the “offspring” of this woman, a human being who will emerge from her line, will crush the head of the enemy and destroy his work.
A Promised Savior
As the story of God unfolds, person after person is selected to carry this promise forward. God chooses Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others after them, to proclaim that He has not given up on His creation.
Eventually, God’s language gets more explicit about the future coming of a savior. For example, the prophet Isaiah says:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
While, on one level, this promise applied to the immediate problem that Isaiah and fellow Israelites faced, the promise also had its long-term fulfillment in Jesus. Mathew later quotes this passage explicitly, when he describes the angel’s conversation with Joseph:
“[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet….” Matthew 1:21-22
2.2. Revealed in the New Testament
Meaning of the Name
The name, “Jesus,” simply means “the LORD saves.” We often see this repeated in the Gospels. Luke, for example, clearly states that Jesus came:
“…to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
And John says:
“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17
Peter echoes this thought:
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Jesus confirms these statements Himself:
“I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47
Believing in the Name
It is significant, therefore, that scripture consistently affirms this truth, that it is only by believing in the “name of Jesus” that we can be saved.
For example, when the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?”, they replied:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31
Likewise, the people of Samaria make this comment to the woman who has told them about Jesus:
“We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:42
Both Lord and Savior
The New Testament, then, frequently combines these two aspects of Jesus’s work. The Lord and Savior are revealed as one and the same person.
For example, Luke records the words of the angel to the shepherds:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
When challenged by the religious leaders of their day after the resurrection of Jesus, Peter and the apostles declare:
“God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.” Acts 5:31
Later, in one of his letters, Peter several times uses the combined phrase, “Lord and Savior,” to refer to Jesus. So, for example, he says:
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
This is a fitting conclusion to our reflection on the work of Jesus. When we consider all He has done for us, what else can we do but praise Him, giving Him glory both now and forever.
So now we have a fuller answer to our question. If someone asks us, “Who Is Jesus,” we can confidently say that Jesus is God and Man, Lord and Savior. In our next lesson, “Why the Cross?”, we will examine how Jesus saves the world, but until then, may God reward you and bless you as you continue your spiritual journey.
Spend time this week in prayer, reflecting on the work of Jesus. What area or areas of your life must you turn over to Him as Lord of your life? In what area or areas of your life would you like to further experience His saving power? What steps will you take next in order to experience this saving power more fully?