It may be appropriate to begin this article with a Psalm. This passage is from Psalm 118:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.
This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Please, Lord, please save us.
Please, Lord, please give us success.
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God, shining upon us.
Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you!”
-Psalm. 118: 18-22
“Who is the Lord?” Is the question we must ask of this Psalm. Here we have an understanding of the Lord creating each day of which there is much to rejoice about. We should be glad in it.
We see that the Lord is asked to save and give blessing or success to us and the one who comes in the name of the Lord is to be blessed and worshipped. The Lord Himself is God.
Why is this Psalm important?
Now I want to fast-forward you to another important passage. Check it out:
“As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. ‘Go into that village over there,’ he told them. ‘As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
“As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.
‘Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!’
But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, ‘Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!’
He replied, ‘If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!’”
-Luke 29-31, 36-40
What Do We See Here?
Jesus is about to go into Jerusalem and is telling His disciples to request a colt from a someone who lives in the area. His reasoning? The Lord needs it…
Here is where it may get interesting. What if I told you that this title, The Lord, is not being used as merely a way of conveying royalty, but is a place holder for the very name of Yahweh Himself. Jesus is saying that I, The Lord, Yahweh, need this colt.
Jesus here is claiming to be Yahweh Himself.
To add to this incredible event, the people of Jerusalem begin to sing praises and blessings! They sing “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”
In response the Pharisees become angry and demand that Jesus rebuke His followers for such blasphemy… And Jesus didn’t want to. In fact, he expected the people to sing His praises and to shout for joy at His arrival.
Why would He quiet them? They were right to worship him.
Fun With Hebrew
The Lord as being a replacement for the Holy name of God was quite common following the Exodus. Most English Bibles today even denote this in footnotes. This Hebrew word יְהֹוָה, the word that is literally understood as Jehovah, the proper name of God, is found in the Bible around 6,510 times. Each time it refers to Yahweh, the Lord God of Israel. The one who formed the universe from nothing, who created humanity, and who wished to be in a personal relationship with His creation. He is the One who made a covenant relationship with Israel. And He is the one who sent the Messiah to reconcile broken humanity to Himself.
This is The Lord that the Psalmist sings to in Psalm 118 among others. This is the One who saves and blesses and judges. And what’s more is that the Lord, is who needed the colt; at least according to Jesus.
Jesus and the Name of the Lord
As you may have been able to tell already, in this article I am making the case that Jesus associates Himself with name of Yahweh. This is the 4th article in a series dedicated to the case for Jesus’ divinity.
In the 2nd article we discussed how Jesus accepts honor and worship in place of God. And in the 3rd article we discussed how Jesus shares in the attributes of God: His omniscience and His eternality.
In this article I want to show a couple of places where Jesus shares in the names of God. We have already touched on the idea of The Lord as being a place holder for Yahweh. What this means is that any time someone calls Jesus ‘Lord’, our radar should go off. Our divinity-seeking senses should tingle. We should look deeply into why Jesus would accept such a term for Himself if He did not think of Himself in such a manner.
A Word from Our Sponsor: Biblical Languages
Before we dive into New Testament Passages where Jesus accepts the name of Yahweh, let me say a few words on biblical languages. It is well known that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic. In its original writing, the name Yahweh was used as the name for God, and this gradually shifted to the name Jehovah or Adonai.
At about 250 B.C, Ptolemy II wished to copy all of the books of the known world (quite a task if I do say so myself). And so, he desired to have a team of 60 or so Jewish scribes trained in the Torah to translate it into Greek.
The Old Testament was translated into Greek and this translation became known as the Septuagint (LXX).
Why is this a big deal?
The Greek Septuagint became a main-stay among Scribes in Judea and around the Mediterranean. The New Testament authors were especially familiar with it and would have even used it to study. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that the NT authors referenced the Greek Septuagint almost as much if not more than the Hebrew counterpart. It makes sense being that much of the Jewish world was deeply affected by a post-diaspora context. Greek was the common language of not only the Gentile world but also the Jewish world.
This matters because the Hebrew words for Yahweh or Jehovah are mostly translated into the Greek word kurios which is the common word for Lord. This word is common for denoting authority or honor toward someone who it is owed. But being used in a Jewish context, as the authors of the Septuagint were in, it was understood that the word Kurios would be in the place of Yahweh.
What this means is that if Jesus is afforded the term “Kurios” then we should take it very seriously. We should take this to be an instance of Jesus accepting the term of Yahweh.
Kurios shows up more than 700 times in the New Testament and 7,000 times in the Septuagint.
To the Bible
I want to lay out 3 passages where Jesus is accepting the term, Lord. I am specifically looking for instances where the Greek word Kurios is being used in the New Testament in reference to Jesus.
Our first passage is in the Gospel of Matthew. Check this out:
“’Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”
-Matthew 7: 21-23
What do we See?
I purposely picked passages where Jesus Himself either accepts the term Lord in dialogue with another person, or of someone calling out Lord to Him. I think that these types of passages are more helpful in making the case for Jesus accepting the term than going to a passage where the narrator refers to Him as Lord.
This passage is such an example. Jesus is not only claiming to be Lord, kurios, but He is claiming the title in such a way that He is claiming to be Lord of all on judgment day. He seems to believe that He is the one who will be the judge of souls and He has every right to make whatever decision He sees fit.
Talk about a huge claim!
To The Bible Part II
Our Second Passage comes from the account of Luke. Check this one out:
“’…Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
‘Where will this happen, Lord?’ the disciples asked.
Jesus replied, ‘Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.’”
-Luke 17: 30-37
What Do We See?
In this passage, Jesus is giving His followers a glimpse of what the end will look like. Within this passage as whole, He describes that there will be war, anguish, persecution, and bunch of other not so fun stuff.
His disciples, like all of us today it seems, wanted to know when and where this will happen!
How do they address Him? They address Jesus as Lord, kurios.
If Jesus truly did not want to be associated with this title, He could have stopped them right there. Instead, Jesus simply accepts the title, and moves on. If He truly did not believe that He were Lord, He simply could have said, ‘Do not call me that.’
To the Bible Part III
Our 3rd passage that we will take a look at is from the account written by Mark. Here you are:
“Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, Jesus told her, ‘First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.’
She replied, ‘That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.’
‘Good answer!’ he said. ‘Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.’ And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.”
-Mark 7: 26b-30
What Do We See?
Here we see an example in Mark of great faith coming from a Syro-Phoenician woman. This woman wished for Jesus to heal her daughter. However, Jesus was primarily here for the people of Israel and then for the Gentiles (perhaps a discussion for another time).
In this dialogue, we see that the woman and Jesus both recognize the situation: she is not in the covenant family of God and thus Jesus is not obligated to her in any way.
YET, she calls him Lord!
Mark presents a Gentile as one of the only ones who understood who Jesus was. She understands she is asking the Lord, Jehovah to save Her daughter. Jesus, in response to this faith, happily obliges.
So far, our Biblical case for the divinity of Jesus is looking pretty good. We have seen that Jesus seemed to think of Himself as more than a mere man or a moral teacher. In fact, we have seen Him claim to have existed before Abraham and we’ve seen Him accept honor and worship as if to a deity. This would have been considered blasphemous in a monotheistic culture such as the one of the Jews. In fact, they wanted to kill Him for it.
Jesus, so far, seems to have thought of Himself as more than a prophet. Jesus takes part in the names of God, accepting the name Yahweh unto Himself, the title LORD, and, as we will see, He did a lot of cool things. In the next article, we will take a look at the next letter in our HANDS acronym. Jesus, as it turns out, carried out the Deeds of God; forgiving sins, controlling the weather, and healing the sick.
We will look at this more in depth next time!