(This is a question I decided to take up posted on Answering Muslims.)
Hi this is Brianman...I am on my gap year before I study medicine, here on a spiritual journey to find my true religion.
I have some questions:
When people say Jesus is the Lord, in what way do they mean that? Do they mean he is one of the trinity when they say he is the Lord?
So, where did this belief come from that Jesus is the Lord (as God)? Where was this philosophy derived from? i.e one of the disciples? Paul? Jesus' authentic words?
Wow, there is a lot of ground to cover as far as your questions go! I am glad, though, that you feel comfortable enough to ask.
To give context to my answer, you must understand a little about early Christianity. The first Christians were Jews. That is, Jesus was an observant Jew, and all of His followers were observant Jews. Jesus lived and taught everything according to the Jewish understanding of God, the Law, and the Prophets. Now, given that every observant Jew is a monotheist, to call someone “Lord” is a very significant thing indeed, because “Lord” is a title that people reserve for exceptional people, like nobility, heads of state, and perhaps high religious authority. Given that Jesus was not nobility, a head of state, or even an ordained Jewish rabbi, and that no rabbi was ordinarily called “Lord,” that the Gospels would refer to Jesus as “Lord” signifies that they gave Him some exceptional amount of authority. Why did they do this?
From the outset, the Jewish public ascribed authority to Him. “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matt. 7:29) He was set apart from teachers and religious leaders of the Law.
Next, He went further by teaching as one who could change the Law of Moses. Read my points here (start where you see the numeral 1). At this juncture, Jesus begins to offend Jewish monotheism. Not only did Jesus lead and teach, He claimed authority to add to and change the Law, something no one can do except God alone. Jesus treads on Jewish sensibilities and blasphemes according to the Law, and it ultimately leads Him to His crucifixion.
Now, what are the options? The only thing observant Jews can do is write Jesus off as a blasphemer cursed by God. So His disciples abandoned Him, ran, and hid for their lives; however, just 50 days later, they came out boldly proclaiming that Jesus was the long-prophecied Messiah and preached worship of Him, the Lord! They claimed they and 500 others had seen Jesus alive and resurrected and began spreading this news all over Israel, Judea, and beyond. Now, there are details in the runup to these events that I have not mentioned, but the practice of worshiping Jesus began with Jesus’ own disciples, who later became the Apostles to the Christian church. The disciple Thomas is famous for his confession (after doubting the resurrection) to Jesus “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28)
What details I have not mentioned are all the ways in which the New Testament speaks of Jesus as God’s Son and the Divine Judge that determines the eternal destiny of all of humanity. In keeping to the vein of Jewish monotheism, no one can do that except God alone. A good study of the self-understanding of Jesus from the Bible should help you fill in those details.
You mentioned the Trinity. The theology of the Trinity was not formulated in the language we have today at the time of Christ or in the early church. However, the Bible makes certain these three propositions: God the Father is God. God the Son (Jesus) is God. The Holy Spirit is God. From these ideas in the New Testament, Christians had to articulate a doctrine that is both faithful to monotheism and the fact that God has revealed Himself as three persons. So that is what we have: one God who manifests as three persons. Do not be troubled if you find this hard to understand!
My best advice to you to start off, Brianman, is simply to read the New Testament. Ask a Christian to explain parts that you find you need clarification. You seem relatively unfamiliar with the content of Christianity, so I recommend that you read the book More Than a Carpenter (Josh McDowell) too, as a good introduction.
I hope I have answered some of your questions here. It’s been a pleasure!