“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE TITLES ASSOCIATED WITH THE NAME OF JESUS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT? In particular, what are we to make of the fact that at least sixty times He is referred to as the “Lord Jesus Christ”? To see fully who He is in the gospel message, we need to understand all three of these designations.
Jesus. If you had lived in Nazareth where Jesus grew up, you might have known several Jewish men with this name. It was a common name, but it was highly regarded because in ancient Israel the Hebrew name Yehoshua joined the name of God with the word for salvation (rescue, deliverance). It meant God is our Salvation.
Christ. The Greek for Christ is equivalent to the Hebrew for Messiah, and both refer to the “anointed one” foretold by the Jewish prophets. To say that Jesus is “Christ” affirms nothing less than Jesus’ identity as the coming King, the One who would vanquish every foe and rule over God’s glorious kingdom forever.
Lord. This was a designation of authority, but in Jesus’ case, the authority goes far beyond any human rule. He is the “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). He has the authority to rule every person’s life. But here is the point: if Jesus Christ is the Lord, we need to submit to His lordship. It is a mockery to say the words “Jesus is Lord” if it is not His will that actually governs us (Luke 6:46). Jesus is not our Savior (providing our forgiveness) if He is not also our King (receiving our obedience).
In the text above, Peter said that “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” So Jesus Christ is the rightful Ruler of the universe whether we give Him permission to rule over us or not. But if we refuse His rule in this world, we will not dwell with Him in the next. When He sits in judgment, the King will banish from His realm every disloyal subject — “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me’” (Matthew 7:23). Now is the time to be reconciled to Him and yield ourselves to His loving reign. But we should weigh our decision carefully. If He is truly going to be our Lord, there must be nothing about us that we won’t let Him govern.
“Jesus Christ will be Lord of all or he will not be Lord at all” (Augustine of Hippo).