Jesus Christ is Lord…
Philippians 2:5-11 [Part 10]
What’s in a name? According to the Scriptures, everything. A name not only identifies an individual, but describes the person’s essential nature and fundamental attributes. That’s why the most significant revelation of God in the Old Testament occurs in the book of Exodus when God pronounces His name to Moses at the burning bush.
But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ [In Hebrew: Yahweh] (Exodus 3:13-14)
So it is that at the enthronement of Christ at the right hand of God as described in the Philippians hymn, Christ is given a name.
Therefore God also highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name
The Name is Lord, or Kyrios. It is an indication that Christ has been set as ruler, not just over the Church, but over the cosmos. This is graphically depicted in the icon of the Pantocrator that fills the dome of virtually every Orthodox church, for the title means ruler over all. Jesus Christ, the obedient one who emptied Himself, now becomes the one the entire universe is to obey, whether, in the words of the late Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, ‘they know it or not, or like it or not.’
The Church already acknowledges Christ’s rule. Jesus is called Lord over 700 times in the New Testament, mostly by Luke and Paul, who were addressing those in a culture used to paying homage to the Roman Emperor not only as an earthly but also as a divine sovereign. Indeed, ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the fundamental early Christian creed.
Yet the proclamation Jesus is Lord also spells out the end of all other powers whose days of demonic domination over human existence are numbered. In the words of the psalmist who foresaw the elevation of Christ in one of the most significant of prophecies of the Hebrew bible:
The Lord says to my Lord:
‘Sit at my right hand,
till I make your enemies your footstool.’ (Psalm 110:1)
From an earthly prospective, evil may seem at times in full view, while Christ is hidden. Yet the Lord is manifest not only in the sacraments, but wherever the good, the true, or the beautiful is at work in the lives of millions who are unsung, but who practice small acts of kindness every day. This is what the Scriptures call the promise of God, at work through the Holy Spirit, on a reality that will be fulfilled at His second and glorious coming.
We live in an in-between time, when we see ‘through a glass darkly.’ (I Corinthians 13:10). Yet the time will come, in the words of our hymn, when
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.