“My Lord and My God”
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 20:28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Thomas quickly responded. His stubborn spirit melted in an instant.
Remembering his own arrogance, he was devastated. The thought that Jesus had been present and heard his crude remarks overwhelmed Thomas.
It was a scene worthy of Heaven itself. The massive wall of shame, embarrassment, defiance, and doubt in Thomas was washed away by a flood of Jesus’ forgiving love. Thomas could now share the ecstasy.
Thomas was not nearly as hardened a skeptic as he thought he was. The test of touching was not necessary. One look was enough. He had fought a terrible struggle, but after the conflict, faith won. Belief stood firm. Once Thomas surrendered, his faith went all the way. There was nothing halfway about him.
For eight days, Thomas had pondered, “What if Jesus really is alive?” He knew exactly what it would mean, and drew the only logical conclusion.
Thomas’ leap of faith was astonishing. He jumped from skepticism into an unseen world. He rose to the loftiest view of Jesus found anywhere in the Gospel. His words remain the strongest testimony to the divinity of Jesus ever uttered.
Thomas was the first to verbalize the highest truth about Jesus. To Thomas belongs the honor of being the first to look Jesus in the face and say, “My God.”
John never could forget this instant. After 60 years, the awe of the moment was still a fragrance to his soul, and he chose to make it the climax of his Gospel.
Once this truth was verbalized, and not refuted, the lives of the disciples and the history of the world could never be the same. Once spoken, it became a reality in their lives that demanded a change. Things would be different now.
In Thomas, John saw the surrender of himself and all the other disciples. We should also see us there. We are to yield ourselves to Jesus as Lord because Jesus is God. The confession of Thomas must become the confession of us all.
His declaration reveals how radically the faith of the Apostles grew in the three years they were with Jesus. They first saw Him as a carpenter, as a great prophet; later, Messiah and Son of God. After the resurrection, their faith took its longest stride upward. The Jesus who died was the Jesus standing before them alive. Their conclusion was logical: Jesus was more than human.
Thomas recognized Jesus as one to whom he owed absolute allegiance. Jesus was his Lord, his owner and master, someone to control his thoughts and actions. Jesus was his God – what this means surpasses understanding.
Thomas knew he had found all he needed in Jesus. Everyone needs a Lord. It does not take us long to grow weary of our own control. We make a mess of our lives. We gladly confess, “Jesus is Lord.” He alone knows what is best for us. Everyone needs God, to give us love, and receive our love and worship in return.
“Lord” and “God” go together. We cannot wholly yield to one as Lord unless that one is God. It is tragic the two words are sometimes separated in reference to Jesus. Some see Him as a Lord – His precepts should be obeyed – but do not confess him as God. Others say He is God, but don’t serve Him as Lord.
What made Thomas’ confession extra beautiful was, he not only put the two words together. He also added the special word that gave ultimate significance to it all. “My.” Jesus is Lord and God whether we believe it or not. Saving faith acknowledges His Lordship and Godship over our own life. The possessive pronoun distinguished Thomas’ declaration from one demons could make.
He appropriated Jesus and made one of the most amazing pronouncements of personal allegiance ever uttered. Thomas’ commitment made this a true confession of faith. I envy his faith, but the next verse teaches I do not have to.
John 20:29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
Any who believe in Jesus centuries after the Resurrection suffer no disadvantage to those who saw the risen Lord. Jesus, in this last beatitude of His earthly life, spoke of all who were not present to experience His incarnation. He looked down the corridor of time and space, and spoke a final benediction, one which reached to people thousands of miles, and thousands of years, away.
What Jesus told Thomas here affects you and me. We are among those who have not seen, yet believe. The meaning of Jesus’ words was simply this: we have not been cheated. When we believe in Jesus, we have opportunity to enjoy the same fullness of relationship with Jesus the Apostles enjoyed.
Even the Apostles had their best days of fellowship with Jesus after He departed bodily from them. We know this is true because Jesus said to them, “It is for your benefit that I go away” (John 16:7). The reason for this advantage was, His departure meant the arrival of the Holy Spirit in power among them. Once the Holy Spirit came in fullness, they could be with Jesus anytime, anywhere.
The Apostles were not the only ones to profit by Jesus’ bodily departure. Millions enjoy Jesus’ immediate presence at this moment. If we returned to the days of His incarnation, only 10 or 20 could be near Him at any given moment.
Jesus is as present in our world through the Holy Spirit as He was in the world of the Apostles through the incarnation. You and I are not at a disadvantage. We do not see Jesus, or touch Him, but we can share a warmth and closeness with Him which rivals the intimacy Peter, James, and John experienced with Him.
We may think it would have been easier to believe if we had seen Jesus with our eyes and handled Him with our hands. This is not true. Thousands saw Him and experienced His miracles firsthand, yet after His death, only 120 were true believers. The vast majority of Jesus’ contemporaries rejected Him. They knew Him, saw Him, heard Him, and beheld His miracles, but did not believe.
This observation is staggering. How could people have seen His mighty works and reject Him? Something inside us cries out for an explanation. I offer three possible answers, through which we can better understand our own faith.
One, sight is not the proper basis of faith. Faith is “the proof of what is not seen” (Hebrews 11:1b). This means faith involves certainty about things not yet seen. Faith in the unseen is the noblest faculty God gave us, for it is the only faculty that lets us know Him. God is Spirit. He cannot be seen by physical eyes. Anyone who knows Him has come to this relationship based on a faith that does not yet see. People who saw Jesus’ works and believed were saved not because of what they saw, but because they understood the unseen meaning of what they saw.
Two, hearing is the proper basis for faith. “Faith comes from what is heard” (Romans 10:17a). Why was it easier for me to be saved at age six than for my deaf sister at age nine? I could hear, she could not. Faith is a spiritual response, and God who is Spirit has ordained that it can spring only from a proper response to His Word. Language and communication is necessary for faith to happen.
Faith does not spring from experiential knowledge of events, but instead draws its origin from God’s Word. We have a spiritual capacity which discerns spiritual truth. Faith acquiesces in the bare word of God.
His unsupported Word is quite enough for faith to build on. To live by sight means to say, “I trust me.” To live by hearing God’s Word means to say, “I trust God.” We cannot show higher honor to anyone than to take their bare word.
Faith is a spiritual response to hearing God’s Word, and once operational, faith gives us a precious freedom from our own selves. It lifts us above the tyranny of our fickle emotions and feeble natures. Faith lifts us above this world, soars aloft, and fixes its anchor in Heaven. Faith takes us out of this world of sense and feeling. It lets us enjoy another world before we actually arrive there.
Faith allows us to see Him who is invisible, to hear Him who speaks not audibly, to touch Him who is Spirit, to taste Him who is not physically present. What we experience by faith is more real, more substantial, and much more fulfilling than what we experience by our physical senses.
Three, faith is more than mental assent, it is trusting one’s own life to the care of Another. “You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe – and they shudder” (James 2:19). Believing certain facts to be true is a beginning, but nothing more. Facts are only arrows pointing us toward Someone in Whom our faith can rest. The object of faith is not a creed, but a Person. Faith is a total yielding of ourselves to Jesus as Lord and God. Seeing the mighty works of Jesus caused people to realize He was extraordinary, a Prophet, a Messiah. But to submit to Him as Lord and God was a step most of them would not take.
In His last beatitude, Jesus diffused a perfume whose fragrance continues to float through all the ages. Our Lord, the “Blessed One,” well knew who the truly blessed ones are, and what makes them so.
Nothing is more beautiful than when we surrender totally to God. Whatever keeps us from saying to Jesus “My Lord and my God,” give it up now. Exhibit true faith. Do something truly beautiful. Surrender your all, and be blessed.