The Sixth Title – Lord

These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”                                                                           John 20:26-29 (NASB)

How many times have you said, off-handedly, “Oh Lord!” or “Lord have mercy!” These seem to be everyday phrases heard just about everywhere, from the grocery store to the gas station and even in the church. We think nothing about throwing these phrases around at the drop of the hat. While they are not, necessarily blasphemous, they are degrading or at least, very disrespectful, depending upon your worldview. These interjections have no real place in the vocabulary of the Christian even though it seems to be just as common in churches as it is outside of the church.

When we consider the definition of lord, we find the usual and most commonly known definitions. Merriam-Webster offers the following definitions, most of which have been heard before: one having power and authority; a ruler by hereditary right or preeminence to whom service and obedience are due; an owner of land or other real property; a male head of household. Dictionary.com adds this definition in the usage of lord as a verb – acting in a superior or domineering manner towards someone. It is this last definition most Christians know, even though they may not realize it at the time. When someone says they do not like Christians because they have “a holier than thou” attitude, this is what that person speaks of!! Lording it over someone!!

This high-handed behavior of lording things over people is the exact opposite of what Jesus wants from and has taught those who are called His disciples. It becomes easy to see why so many people turn away from the church and refuse to try another for fear or frustration of running into the same attitude. The title lord for the human carries the meaning of authority and superiority. It signifies their authority over other people. It is also used in deference and respect for that same authority and superiority. While a landowner is the most commonly applied situation, this also applies to business owners and managers placed in authority over the workforce.

When we consider Jesus as Lord, however, we would do well to focus on the second portion of the definition offered by Merriam-Webster: a ruler by hereditary right or preeminence to whom service and obedience are due. This is where the rubber meets the road for the Christian. The Greek word John uses for lord in our passage is kyrios. During the earthly ministry of Jesus, it functioned as a title of respect, which was also commonly used for Jewish Rabbis. In today’s world it would be the equivalent of Sir. After the resurrection of Jesus, however, it began to describe the divinity of Jesus. As a divine title in the New Testament it is a substitute for Yahweh of the Old Testament. Jewish Christians would certainly equate Jesus to Yahweh.

In our passage we meet an all too well-known and familiar character, well-known because of the commonly used phrase coming from his name and familiar because, in many ways, he typifies an experience shared by all people – doubt. Today we meet Doubting Thomas. For eight days, Thomas was at odds with the other disciples, his friends, men he had spent the last three and a half years traveling about and learning from Jesus. For eight days Thomas persisted in doubt, defeat and depression, missing out on the joy and fellowship he had known with his friends, the disciples of Jesus Christ.

The doubt in Thomas comes from a false picture of Jesus, thus leading to unbelief. Perhaps it was the belief that Jesus was just a great man, a great teacher, a great prophet, or the great founder of a religion, that led to the doubt in Thomas. No matter how highly esteemed Jesus is held in those beliefs, they are wrong – they are false beliefs. Why is it that people prefer to see Jesus as a great man? For one very simple reason – seeing Jesus as a man brings Him down to our level! It makes Jesus less than Lord but just a little above man…well, maybe.

There are many reasons people prefer to see Jesus as just a man. For some believing Jesus is just a man means people are not totally depraved and Jesus did not have to die for them. For others means people can do what Jesus did – His very best – and God will still accept them. For still others it means they do not have to follow every little detail and teaching of Jesus – because He was, after all, just a man. Here is the thing about Jesus though; as Lord, suddenly, unexpectedly, without notice He will stand in the midst of your doubt and call you to believe.

You see, Thomas had been walking down a dangerous road. His friends, the disciples, have been witnessing to him again and again and again – and yet he still refused to believe. Is this not what many of us have encountered from friends and family? Is this not the same reaction we have had at different times in our spiritual walk? Jesus knows your heart; He knows every person’s heart. He knows your despair, He knows your doubts and fears, He knows the hope and love you carry in your heart. Thomas was in the midst of his friends, believers, when Jesus touched his heart.

Thomas was very close to allowing his doubt to become a lack of faith. He was in danger of becoming faithless. Thomas had spent the same three and a half years with Jesus as the other disciples had. He had seen the miracles and heard the same teaching. The only difference is he had not seen Jesus with his own eyes. Thomas had faith only in the Christ he could see with his own two eyes. Yet to be faithless is to be separated from Christ. To be separated from Christ is to be without hope in a world that is hopeless. To be separated from Christ is to be without God in a world filled with chaos and turmoil. But, to say about Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” that changes everything!

Jesus truly is the ONLY Risen Lord. All that He has said and revealed is truth. Jesus is both Lord and God, the Sovereign One full of majesty, love and truth. Jesus is the only One who has truly come to reveal the Father; He is the Mediator between a holy God and fallen humanity. Jesus is the ONLY One who has the hereditary right to claim authority and superiority over all He has created. He is the ONLY One to whom worship, obedience and service are due! Jesus Christ truly is Lord and God!!

If you can say about Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” He will accept no halfway commitment. Jesus expects to be Lord and God to all; therefore, we must bow down and worship Him as Lord and God. Finally, Jesus expects you to make a public confession of Him as Lord and God and to then live a life that continues to make that confession! How much of yourself do you see in Doubting Thomas? Are you refusing to hear the evidence about Jesus? Or maybe you need to see the physical proof from Jesus Himself? Is Jesus now standing in the midst of your doubt calling you to believe? Or are you now ready to confess Jesus as “My Lord and my God.” May the Holy Spirit guide you to the truth of Jesus Christ and prompt you in confessing Him as Lord and God. 

Amen and Amen.

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