A century of civil war, all rivals had been eliminated, and the Roman world was hungry for peace. In a display of military prowess, Octavian had finally brought peace and therefore some measure of prosperity and stability to the East. This fact alone seems not only to have impressed the Asian cities but also to have prompted a spirit of genuine gratitude mixed with deep admiration leading up to the worship of Emperor. In 27 BC Octavian was granted the title Augustus (‘revered’), which had religious rather than autocratic overtones. Toward the end of the first century the Roman Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96) demanded worship under the title “Lord” from the people of the Roman Empire as a test of political loyalty and gratitude and thus the Caesar worship became compulsory. Once a year the Roman citizen must burn a pinch of incense on the altar to the godhead of Caesar; and having done so, he was given a certificate to guarantee that he had performed his religious duty. Any challenge to the religious supremacy of the emperor was perceived as unpatriotic and as an act of political subversion. The early Christians lived in a world dominated by the Roman imperial cult and severe persecution. But even in the midst of severe persecution early Christians stood with their conviction that Jesus of Nazareth is, indeed, the Lord of all and cannot be substituted with any man or objects and refused to call Caesar as the Lord. The cost of following Jesus and calling him as the Lord was almost paid with their own life. The word “Lord” is very much part of the New Testament understanding of Christology. If we look at the Hebrew Bible, when it was translated into Greek in the Septuagint at least two centuries before Christianity, the Greek word for Lord, kurios, was used for YHVH (Yahwey) indicating the divine authority and lordship. It is significant also to note that the word “Lord” or “Master” appear more than 700 times in the New Testament referring to Jesus. So for the early Christians the name “Jesus” and the title “Lord” has got theological significance carried all the way from the Hebrew Bible to the writings of the New Testament. It carries intrinsic divine power and authority and lordship over the universe (John 16:23). According to Paul, confessing the name of Jesus carries a salvific value (Romans 10:9-13). On Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus’ followers came to declare and affirm that the risen Jesus himself was the Lord and Savior of the universe. Thomas said “My Lord and my God” (John 20:20). Then onward the disciples of Jesus boldly preached about Jesus as the Lord (Acts 2:36; 10:36). Incidentally, Apostle Thomas came to India and proclaimed that Jesus is the Lord and he was martyred. Today many call Jesus as the Lord, probably not knowing the entire meaning and implication of that word. We hear it in worship, songs and prayers over and again. May be, it costs us nothing, but was not so for the first century Christians. They could never use it casually! Those of us who call Jesus as the Lord meaningfully and with understanding will bring ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus not with fear but with reverence and in gratitude for what He has accomplished on the cross for you and me.
“He has taken away the fear of death and brought peace to us. ” — Joy Pappachan
He has taken away the fear of death and brought peace to us. He has defeated death and brought victory. We were enemies of God, but He made us His friends - no more fears but full of confidence and hope. We were sinners but he washed us with his blood and made us sons and daughters. Now we can draw near to the throne and joyfully surrender to the rule of God, and keep proclaiming that Jesus is the Lord.