Romans 14:9 is a profound statement by the Apostle Paul. “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” Paul acknowledges something taught elsewhere in the New Testament: Jesus died and rose again so that He would be given the highest place of Lordship and so that He would reign as the One to whom all things – even you and me – have been given as an inheritance. Christ died, Christ rose, and Christ lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living: this is a concise statement of the work of Jesus Christ, the gospel, and the effect of the gospel on our lives.
All three of these phases — His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension — are related to His Lordship in the New Testament.
So, for example, in Acts 2:36 we hear the Apostle Peter proclaim that what God the Father did through the crucifixion of Jesus. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Was Jesus both Lord and Christ before His suffering and death? Yes, but it was through the cross that Jesus was publicly put forward and acknowledged as the only Lord of all men, the One who holds both salvation and judgment in His hands.
And then we read in Ephesians 1:19-23 of what God the Father did through the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. “The working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” God the Father honored His obedient Son and raised Him to the highest place of honor and crowned Him with many crowns and seated Him at His favored place, His right hand, where He reigns over all things for the sake of His bride, the church. He is Lord because He is risen.
In Philippians 2:9-11, we hear what the Father did to reward His Son for His faithfulness when He raised His Son to sit at His right hand. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” These words are almost a verbatim quotation of Isaiah 45:23. Paul saw that God was doing for Jesus what He had promised to do for Israel, so that Jesus is now the truly blessed One, the true Israel, the favored Son, the vindicated Savior, and when we are in Him by faith we are blessed and vindicated also. The Lordship of Jesus is an aspect of His reward from His Father for His faithfulness and devotion. In Him we share that reward.
And then consider 2 Corinthians 5:15. “And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” This statement from Paul puts the issue of Lordship in very personal terms. Christ died and lived again so that all those who are in Him would live not for themselves but for Him. That is a simple description of what Lordship is. He is Lord, so I live for Him. I am seated with Him in the heavenly places. He is Lord over all things, and over every aspect of my life. There is no place to which I can retire and say, “Well, now I can please myself. Now I am out of reach of this Jesus. Now I can do as I see fit for my own sake.”
No. Because He died, because He was raised from the dead, because He ascended, because He was seated at the right hand of the Father, therefore He is Lord – Lord of the distant galaxies, Lord of the tossing seas and dry land and blue sky, Lord of governments and nations and empires, Lord of both the living and the dead, and Lord of my hands and my mind and my heart and my eyes and my tongue. If you live that way, it changes how you think about your freedom. You are free not so that you can please yourself; you are free so that you can please the one who purchased your freedom.