1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Have any of you ever been in a conversation that went something like this:
Parent: Good afternoon, Johnny. How was school today?
Johnny: It was OK. I got an A on my science paper, I moved to my new locker, math class is still hard, I don’t think Mrs. Stephens likes me very much, I was suspended for a week for driving my car through the school’s front door because Brian dared me to do it, and I need you to add some more money to my lunch account.
Do you see what happened there? In the middle of some important stuff is some really important stuff.
That’s what we have in a certain sense in our passage for this morning. In my silly example the really important stuff was sandwiched in the middle of the important stuff by Johnny in an attempt to hide it. This is, of course, not what Peter was doing in his letter. And yet, Peter teaches several important things in the middle of teaching several really important things that would be easy to miss if we aren’t paying attention.
Remember, the main thrust of this passage (the really important stuff) is a charge from Peter for God’s people to worship God first and most in all circumstances (including times of significant persecution and suffering). Having preached on that a few weeks ago, we’re circling back around to look at several key phrases in this same text (the important stuff).
To that end, last week we considered the biblical teaching that God is the Father of Jesus and God is the Father of all who believe in Jesus. Peter just sort of asserts that at the beginning of v.3. And again, if we’re not careful, we’ll miss it. Similarly, in the same verse Peter refers to Jesus as “our Lord”. This too is remarkable important (especially in our culture) and easy to miss. Therefore, to keep us from missing it, I’m going to preach on it today.
Please pray with me that God would cause us to see the greatness of our Lord Jesus and all of his commands, such that we’d delight to submit to him as Lord in every area of our lives—even in times of great difficulty.
JESUS IS LORD
Peter’s first letter begins by acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus. He writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Interestingly, his second letter ends with the same acknowledgment in a prayer for the saints. There he pleads with them to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:18). Peter’s letters are bookended with the Lordship of Christ.
In addition to his letters, in the Gospels, when Peter lived and ministered with Jesus, he referred to Jesus as “Lord” over and over again (Matthew 14:28, 16:22, 17:4, 18:21; Luke 5:8, 12:41, 22:33; John 6:68, 13:6-9, 36-37, all of chapter 21, Acts 2:36).
One significant example is found in Matthew 14:27-30. In this passage Peter and the disciples were sitting in a boat as Jesus had instructed them. As they waited for Jesus he came to them, walking on the water.
“Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ 28 And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29 He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.'”
The rest of the New Testament writers are clear on the Lordship of Jesus as well.
Paul speaks to it in passages like Acts 20:20-21, “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul also refers to Jesus as Lord 12 times in Romans, 10 times in 1 Corinthians, 5 times in 2 Corinthians, 3 times in Galatians, 7 times in Ephesians, 5 times in Philippians, twice in Colossians, 5 times in 1 Thessalonians, 10 times in 2 Thessalonians, 5 times in 1 Timothy, once in 2 Timothy, and twice in Philemon.
In fact, the only letter of Paul in which he does not explicitly declare the Lordship of Jesus is Titus.
James, Jesus’ own brother, calls him Lord in James 1:1, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jude too, another brother of Jesus, understood Jesus as Lord, declaring it in one of our favorite doxologies, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25).
Again, that the NT authors understood Jesus as Lord is plain to see. But what does that really mean? What does it mean that Jesus is Lord?
THE NATURE OF THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS
Generally, the word translated “Lord” in the NT means “owner” or “master” or “ruler”. It refers to one who has authority over something or someone. Jesus is certainly Lord in these senses. And yet there are several unique ways in which Jesus is Lord as well. I want to draw your attention to six aspects of Jesus’ Lordship; each of which has remarkably significant implications for our lives.
The first thing to understand about the Lordship of Jesus is that it is rooted in the fact that he is God.
All authority outside of God is derived or delegated or assigned authority. God’s power and right to rule is absolutely unique in that it alone is original and nonderivative. This is because God alone is the self-sustaining creator and orderer of the universe. The universe is uniquely his to do with as he pleases.
Ultimately, therefore, the Lordship of Jesus originates from the fact that he is God, the Second Person of the Trinity. If he were not, his Lordship, like that of any merely earthly leader or ruler or master, would be a delegated lordship. But he is God and so it is not. It is a original and nonderivative Lordship.
This matters for us because it means that Jesus Lordship is ultimate and unquestionable.
Second, the Lordship of Jesus was conferred upon him by the Father.
Though Jesus’ Lordship is rooted in the fact that he is God, it was (in a certain sense) conferred upon him by the Father. Consider the following passages that speak directly to this.
In Matthew 28:18 Jesus acknowledges that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”.
The key phrase in this verse is “has been given”. As we saw last week, God as Father of Jesus, indicates the willing submission of Jesus. The Father and Son are one in essence, glory, honor, and value—that is, they are one in being—but they are distinct in role. The role of the Son is to submit to the will of the Father. Therefore, Lordship was “given” to the Son by the Father.
Similarly, John 17:2 records Jesus acknowledging that he was “given” Lordship by the Father.
Another example is found in Ephesians 1:19-23. There Paul writes that at the raising of Jesus from the dead, the Father ” seated him [Jesus] at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
In this passage, concerning Jesus’ Lordship, we see again that the Father “seated him” in a position of authority and “put all things under his feet” and “gave him as head.”
Again, to really understand the Lordship of Jesus we must understand that it is ultimately rooted in the fact that he is God, but also that it was conferred upon or given to him by the Father.
This has implications for us in that it gives us an example of the type of godly unity and joyful submission we are all called to in our relationships..
The third thing to understand is that Jesus’ Lordship is universal.
The same passages that we just read speak to this as well. In John 17 we see that Jesus has been given Lordship over “all flesh”. And in Ephesians 1 Paul teaches that Jesus’ rule is above all other rule and that “all things” have been placed under his Lordship and that he is Lord “over all things”.
Perhaps all of this is best summed up in Peter’s words recorded in Acts 10:36. There he declared that there is good news of peace to all the world “through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)…”. There is nothing in all creation (1 Corinthians 8:6), that Jesus is not Lord over.
The bible explicitly states that:
He is Lord over the fish of the sea (John 21:7), the birds of the air, the grass and flowers of the fields (Matt. 6:25-30), and the angels in heaven (1 Thess. 1:7); He is Lord of all flesh (1 Cor. 5:4) and all spirits (Acts 7:59).
He is Lord over the man of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:8) and all the enemies of God.
He is Lord over the wind and waves, for he speaks and they obey him (Matthew 8:23-27).
He is Lord over physical deformities, able to heal the blind (Matthew 9:27-29, 20:30-34) and cure the sick (Luke 5:12-13, 7:1-10).
He is Lord over the duties of mankind, issuing new commandments with the blessing of the Father (John 13:34-35).
He is Lord over the decisions of mankind, sending and calling people as he wills (Acts 9, 20:24; Philippians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:11) and strengthening them for righteousness (Romans 13:14; 1 Timothy 1:12-14).
He is the Lord of all joy (Philippians 3:8), alone able to satisfy the human heart.
He is Lord of peace (Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1), bringing it to all who would trust in him.
He is Lord of all knowledge, knowing even the secret will of the Father (John 13:21-30; Ephesians 3:11; 1 Timothy 6:3) and how to honor the Father in all circumstances (Luke 11:1-4; Acts 20:35).
He is Lord over sin and salvation, able to give grace (Acts 15:11), forgive sins, cleanse sinners (1 Corinthians 6:11), save souls (Acts 16:31, Romans 7:25; 1 Thess. 5:9), deliver victory (1 Corinthians 15:57), reconcile people to the Father (John 8:1-11; Acts 2:36), and grant everlasting life (Romans 5:21, 6:23; Jude 1:21).
He is the Lord of light (Acts 9:3) and darkness (Luke 23:44).
He is Lord of the living and the dead, as seen in the presence of Moses and Elijah at his transfiguration and confirmed by the audible voice of the Father (Matthew 17:1-5).
He is Lord over life and death, as evidenced by his ability to raise people from the dead (John 11) and by his own death and resurrection and ascension (Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:1-15; John 20:1-9).
Grace, Jesus is the Lord of all glory (2 Thess. 2:14; James 2:1).
Again, that Jesus’ Lordship is universal means that he is Lord over everyone and everything.
This is where things begin to get really practical. That Jesus’ Lordship is universal means that along with everything else, he is Lord of you and I. We are not in charge of our own lives. We are not our own masters.
If we do not submit to Jesus as Lord we cannot receive him as savior. This fact is tragically missing from the understanding of so many Christians today. Therefore, this fact is tragically missing from many gospel presentations today. That we have left out the Lordship of Jesus when calling people to be saved by Jesus for so long explains the nominal, generic spirituality that people call Christianity today.
Why do so many people bristle every time they’re told of Jesus’ demands on their life? Because they still see themselves as their own Lord. Jesus has no more right to define sin and call them to turn from it than you or I do.
This might be what passes as Christianity today, but it is not what Peter taught in 1 Peter 1:3. Jesus is Lord—ruler, master, owner—over everyone and everything.
Fourth, Jesus’ Lordship is absolute.
The last point was meant to highlight the fact that Jesus is Lord over all things. This one is mean to highlight the fact that he has all authority over all things. This is clearly taught in the Matthew 28 passage we looked at earlier. Matthew 28:18 not only teaches that the Father gave Lordship to the resurrected Son, but also that he gave him “all authority”. Do you see the difference?
There are times Gerri and I want to go on a date (without the kids) and so we put our oldest son, Jeremiah, in charge of the rest of the kids. We effectively make him lord of them. That is, we give him authority over all of them (it is universal in that sense). However, the authority we give him is temporary and limited. It may be universal, but it is not absolute.
Again, Jesus’ Lordship is not like that. It is universal and absolute. He has all authority over all things.
This has massive implications for you and I. It means that there is no corner of our lives that we are allowed to withhold from Jesus’ rule. We cannot keep even a single penny or second or idea for our own purposes. That is what Saul did in 1 Sam. 15 (he kept Agag and the best of Agag’s animals alive for his own purposes) and God rejected him as King. That is what Ananias and Sapphira did in Acts 5 (they kept back a portion of the proceeds of the field they sold and lied about it) and the Lord struck them dead. And this is what you and I do every time we eat or drink apart from God’s glory or spend money on things for worldly pleasures or …
Moms, you don’t get a single moment of ungodly frustration with your kids because no moment is yours to do with as you please. Jesus is Lord of every moment and he has called you to love your kids and point them to Christ in all of them. Kids, you don’t get a single thought to waste on worldly pleasures because no thoughts are yours to do with as you choose. Everyone of them belongs to the Lord Jesus and he’s called you to take them all captive for his truth and glory. Men, you don’t get to spend a penny on your own selfish interests because every penny belongs to your Lord and he’s called you invest them well.
Jesus is not just temporarily or limitedly Lord over all things, he is permanently and absolutely Lord over all things. He has all authority over all things.
The Lordship of Jesus is for the glory of the Father.
We’re going to wrap up by quickly looking at two more aspects of Jesus’ Lordship. The fifth thing to see is that Jesus does all that he does (including ruling over the universe) for the glory of the Father. John’s gospel speaks to this over and over and over.
In John 14:13 Jesus tells his followers, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Jesus rules and reigns over his people, blessing those who walk in his ways, so that his Father would be glorified by his ruling and reigning.
Likewise, in John 7:18 Jesus makes it known that in his exercise of his Lordship he is not seeking his glory, but the glory of his Father. He says, “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
Jesus’ example of using his Lordship for the glory of another frees us from selfish desire to glorify ourselves. It frees us from looking to show off and make a name for ourselves. And it frees us to use any authority delegated to us by God to draw attention to the glory of Jesus.
The Lordship of Jesus is for the good of God’s people.
Finally, it can be a bit scary to consider the universal, absolute rule of someone over us. That’s a lot of power. That’s a lot of potential to cause pain and suffering and misery.
I remember as a freshman hating it when a coach would leave the seniors in charge of a practice. Inevitably the freshman would be told to get all the equipment out for track practice. We’d have to lug out all the hurdles and pads for the high jump and pole vault and carry all the shot puts and poles, all while the seniors leisurely strolled out to the track. They used their authority for their own selfish gain at the expense of those they’d been charged to oversee.
It is never like this with Jesus. He always, only works for the glory of the Father and the good of his people. You and I are called to submit every aspect of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus. But Grace, don’t miss this: Jesus uses every second of his Lordship to bless you and I. Our submission will never be to our disadvantage. Our submission will never be to our loss or ruin. Our submission will always be for that which is best for us. Indeed, our Lord Jesus, according to the will of the Father, is causing all things to work together for our good always (Romans 8:28) under his sovereign, gracious rule.
Therefore, we are freed to obey in the knowledge that we are never giving up something greater for something lesser. And we are freed to use any authority delegated to us by God to bless the socks off of the people around us.
That Jesus is Lord is easy to miss or skim over in the context of 1 Peter 1:3-5. It isn’t the main point of the passage—worshiping God at all times for his nature and work and promises is. And yet it is taught by Peter and necessary for worship that can be sustained in and persevere through the type of persecution that was upon and building in the early Church. Likewise, a right understanding of the Lordship of Jesus is necessary for us today if we are going to persevere until the end and be saved.
Of course none of us have perfectly submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. We have all sinned by acting as if we are Lord of our lives. But thanks be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for sending Jesus to die for those sins and all the rest. And thanks be to God that in addition to forgiveness of sins, Jesus’ death and resurrection secured for all his people the Spirit who is continually working in us, making it our joy to confess that Jesus is Lord.
Therefore, let us forsake our illusory self-rule, self-lordship, and self-mastery. Let us confess those areas of our life as sin and turn from them in the power of the Holy Spirit according to the promises of the gospel. And let us cry out to God to help us see the necessity and rightness and goodness of submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Christ.
Jesus is Lord. We do not make him Lord of our lives. We acknowledge it and embrace for our good, or we deny and reject it to our peril.