Romans Devotional 3- Jesus and I: Lord and slave? (Rom 1:1)
By Christy Tran
Though Paul always had burning desire to visit Rome (Acts 19:21; Rom 1:9-12), he had never been there until the Roman military guard finally escorted him as a prisoner (Acts 27:1-2) at the end of his gospel ministry.
To the unacquainted audience in Rome, he addresses his letter:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—” (Rom 1:1, NIV)
Uniquely, “servant” is the very first word that Paul chose to introduce himself. The Greek term used for the word is doulos, which means “bond-slave.” This must be Paul’s most proud title for himself.
He wants his audience to know that he is doulos and Jesus is kurios (Lord). He is not a boss of his own life but Jesus is his true boss – master, chief, or ruler (Mat 28:18- 20; Eph 1:19-23; Luke 6:46). Jesus IS his owner who possesses authority, power, and control over his life.
“Jesus is my kurios (Lord) and I am His willing doulos (slave).” This is Paul’s confession of self-identity. Separated from Jesus, his life does not exist. He no longer belongs to himself but entirely to Jesus. Paul is His possession. He has an obligation to his master but it is an obligation of love. This obligation is not forced but he is willing to submit to his Lord, Jesus.
Why? Because Jesus Himself became a slave for us first.
Though Jesus was rich, he chose to be poor for our sake, so that through his poverty he made us rich (2 Cor 8:9). Though he was equal to God, he did not use this huge advantage for himself. Instead, he made himself nothing, by being the lowliest slave for us and died on the cross for us, on behalf of us (Phil 2:5-8).
“Kurios and doulos, that is Jesus and me,” says Paul. “Jesus had given me the most priceless love. He gave His life for me. He bought me with His precious blood. Therefore I am HIS. He forgave my great sins, accepted me unconditionally and commissioned me to be His apostle. By this love I became who and what I am today. I have been completely captivated and carried away by Him. I am not my own but I am His. There is nothing in me that can be claimed as mine but everything in me is because of my dear Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. I do not need anything else. His love is sufficient for me. I am happy to be His slave.”
Becoming a slave to Jesus is never forced. This bondage to His love does not degrade us but liberates us from all bondages in our own ways of life, which paradoxically leads us to the true freedom – freedom in Christ Jesus and His word.
It is a universal truth that God has already made Jesus the Lord of heaven, earth, and the sea (Phil 2:10-11). But the question is: “is this Jesus my Lord and am I His willing slave?”
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