Luke was a physician who, evidently, closely followed Jesus and His disciples during the time of Jesus’ ministry several years prior to His death by crucifixion. Luke wrote the gospel bearing his name, and he also wrote the book of Acts which recounts a history of the church, for several decades, following Jesus ascension. Luke begins the book of Acts by saying:
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
~ Acts 1:1-3 (NIV)
All four of the gospels give accounts of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus, which Luke calls “convincing proofs.” The gospel of John records one of these proofs in this exchange between the resurrected Jesus and Thomas, one of the disciples:
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
~John 20:24-29 (ESV)
“Doubting Thomas” believed when Jesus graciously offered to him the “convincing proof” Thomas needed. Thomas gives testimony to the fact that he was convinced this really was the teacher whom he followed for more than three years, whom he witnessed being tortured, killed, and buried by proclaiming “My Lord and my God!” This is the essence of belief.
Saying Jesus is “God” is acknowledging that He’s more than a great moral teacher who did and said some noteworthy things. By calling Jesus “God” Thomas is putting Jesus in a completely separate category from the rest of the things and people in the world. As God, Jesus is the creator. Everyone and everything else is created. With the Father, Jesus is in a class all his own.
But Thomas also called Jesus “Lord.” It’s one thing to acknowledge God as God. Many people do that. But by calling Jesus “Lord,” Thomas is making a statement on how he intends to relate to Jesus. As Lord, he will allow Jesus to rule over his life. Lordship implies rulership. In John 14:15, Jesus told his disciples “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” This is the essence of Lordship…doing what your Lord tells you to do. To state it in the negative, if you don’t do what your Lord tells you to do, then He’s really not your Lord. To summarize very simply:
Acknowledging Jesus as God means you know how Jesus relates to creation. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord means you know how Jesus relates to you.
Does your life reflect that Jesus is both your Lord and your God?