One Surprising Yet Crucial Implication of “Our Lord, Come!”Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Our Lord, come!
1 Corinthians 16:22
In yesterday's reflection, I began to consider the short prayer near the very end of 1 Corinthians: "Our Lord, come!" (16:22). The context makes it clear that this prayer is addressed to Jesus (see 16:23, for example).
As I mentioned yesterday, part of what is striking about this prayer is its language. Though 1 Corinthians is written in Greek, "Our Lord, come!" appears in Aramaic (marana tha). Aramaic was a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew. It was spoken as a first language by most of the first Christians, and was in all likelihood the first language of Jesus himself. (If you're interested in the question of Jesus' languages, let me refer you to a blog series I wrote on this topic: What Language Did Jesus Speak? Why Does It Matter?) The fact that Paul includes marana tha in his letter to the Greek-speaking Corinthians indicates that he was quoting an early piece of Christian worship. The earliest followers of the risen Jesus, who were Aramaic-speaking Jews, prayed to Jesus, asking him to come, and calling him "Lord."
If you know anything about Jewish belief and practice, you can see how striking this is. Jews were, and still are, fiercely monotheistic. They serve one God who revealed himself as the Lord. So, the fact that some of the first followers of Jesus, Jewish men and women who believed in only one God, the Lord, both prayed to Jesus after his death and called him "Lord" is truly stunning.
It's not uncommon today to hear scholars and pseudo-scholars claim that the notion of Jesus as Lord and God was a late addition to early Christianity. Some propose that the "deification" of Jesus happened only as Christians began to compete for followers with Greco-Roman paganism. But, in fact, the lordship and deity of Jesus go back to the earliest days after the resurrection of Jesus. One might remember, for example, the confession of Thomas in the Gospel of John: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). (If you'd like more information about early Christian understandings of Jesus as divine, let me point you to another blog series: Was Jesus Divine? Early Christian Perspectives.)
I mention the antiquity of Christian belief in Jesus as Lord, in part, to encourage us in the face of common objections to Christian faith. But I also want to underscore the absolute centrality of our belief in Jesus as Lord. He is the LORD, the one who bears the holy name of God. He is Lord of heaven and earth, sovereign over all. Jesus is also "our Lord," the Lord of the church, the one in whom we are bound together in shared servanthood. And Jesus is also my Lord and your Lord, the one whom we serve individually with all that we are. Today, as I pray, "Our Lord, come!" I am reminded to offer myself to Jesus, the true Lord and God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Does the antiquity of Christian belief in Jesus as Lord make any difference to you? What does it mean to you that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords? How will you live today with Jesus as your Lord?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, today I honor you as King of kings and Lord of lords. You are Lord of heaven and earth, sovereign over all things. You command the sun and the stars, and they obey your word. You hold all things together by your power.
Jesus, you are Lord of the church. You give your people life and purpose. You deserve our obedience and service. Indeed, you are worthy to receive our worship as the LORD, one who is by very nature God.
Jesus, you are my Lord. You have given me life eternal through your death. You have given me hope and purpose through your resurrection. I am honored to serve you, to follow you, to kneel before you, and even to love you.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus. Our Lord, come!