Sir Robert Anderson
Excerpt from "The Lord from Heaven"
No one who accepts the Scriptures as divine is entitled to deny that in His personal ministry the Lord Jesus laid claim to Deity. And the crucifixion is a public proof that He did in fact assert this claim. For we are told expressly that the reason why the Jews plotted His death was "because he not only brake the Sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God." His claim to be "Lord even of the Sabbath" was in itself an assertion of equality with the God of Sinai. And as regards His declaring Himself to be the Son of God, the question is not what these words might convey to English readers today, but what He Himself intended His hearers to understand by them.
And this He made unequivocally clear. The charge brought against Him was one from which, if false, any godly Israelite would have recoiled with horror. But instead of repelling it He accepted it in a way which even common men could understand. For He immediately asserted such absolute unity with God that the Father was responsible for His every act, including, of course, the miracle which they had denounced as a violation of the divine law. He next claimed absolute equality with God as "the author and giver of life" - the supreme prerogative of Deity. And, lastly, He asserted His exclusive right to the equally divine prerogative of judgment.
My object in recapitulating this now and here is to seize upon the words which follow, for they are words which may well cause searching of heart to the Christian in these days of ours. The reason why all judgment has been committed to Him is, He declared, "in order that all may honour the Son even as they honour the Father." And to make this still more emphatic He added, "He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which sent him."
Men of the world think of Him only as the great Buddha who once lived and died on earth. They know nothing of the living Lord who now reigns in Heaven. It seems natural to them, therefore, to speak of Him as "a man by the name of Jesus Christ," or, with still more distressing freedom, as simply "Jesus." But how is it that real Christians, who profess to honor Him "even as they honour the Father," habitually offend in the same way? It is to be hoped that with very many the fault is due to mere thoughtlessness or ignorance; and if these pages should lead any such to clear themselves from this reproach, they will not have been written in vain.
"Sanctify Christ in your hearts as Lord" is an exhortation we need to remember. And if He be enshrined in the heart as Lord, the confession of the lip will be a matter of course. This confession, indeed, is at once a characteristic and a proof of discipleship; for "no one can say, Lord Jesus but by the Holy Spirit." Any lips, of course could frame the words; but it is a fact of extraordinary interest that the unspiritual never do say, "Lord Jesus." They may call Him "Jesus," or "Jesus Christ," or use some such term as "our Saviour," but "the Lord Jesus" -never!
In New Testament times the disciple thus declared himself by the way in which he named his Lord. It was not that he followed a set rule, but that he obeyed a spiritual instinct. And so it ought to be with us. In the social sphere it is not by rule, but by an instinct of courtesy, that we address other people, and speak of them in a becoming manner. In this sphere, our spiritual instincts would be a still more unerring guide if they were not deadened and depraved by the baneful influences which prevail around us.
It is recorded in the Acts that certain of the strolling Jews, exorcists, took upon them to name over them that had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "I adjure thee by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth." Mark the words. To the disciples He was "the Lord Jesus," but to the vagabond Jews He was "Jesus," and christendom follows the example, not of the disciples, but of the vagabond Jews!
But it is said, "Why should we not call Him Jesus? Is He not thus named hundreds of times in the Gospels? Strange it is that people who contend vehemently for the inspiration of Scripture should thus give proof that they have no faith in it. For if it means anything, it implies a divine authorship of the sacred books, controlling the authorship of the human writers.
If "The Letters of Queen Victoria" had been published anonymously, the mode in which they name the members of the Royal Family would in itself indicate the queen as writer. And the manner in which the "Son of His love" is named in the evangelistic records is one of the many incidental proofs that the Gospels are indeed "the Word of God." What makes this so especially significant is the fact that while in the main narrative the Lord is always "Jesus," yet in every instance where the narrative introduces words spoken by the disciples as such, whether addressed to Him or to others about Him, a title of reverence is used.
The case of the disciples with whom He went to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection may seem to be an exception, but it is a most significant one. They had hoped that "it was He who should redeem Israel," but their hope had been shattered by the crucifixion. And now that He was dead, He was no longer "the Lord," but merely "Jesus of Nazareth."
It is idle to discuss this with any who seek excuses for refusing to render to Him the homage which He claims from His people. But the devout will recognize that in this matter they should be guided by the Lords own teaching, and by the example of those who received the teaching from His own lips. And here we are not left in doubt. His words, "Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well," give proof of their invariable practice, and of His unqualified approval of it; and surely this should be enough for us.