Easter 2023 Message for XPian News
Hesham Shehab: Special Easter 2023 Message… Jesus Christ, “My God and My Lord”
Editor is sorry for his delay in this posting.
Jesus Christ, “My God and My Lord”
The grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus rest upon each and every one of you this day.
“Do not disbelieve, but believe.” That’s pretty cut-and-dry, don’t you think? Now I know we can all pile on Thomas for doubting the Good News of the resurrection (and we often do). We hear the words of our Lord after He gave Thomas the proof he was demanding, “Blessed are they who don’t see, and yet believe,” and our inner-Pharisee can’t help but pat ourselves on the back and say, “Thank God I’m not like Thomas, who needed to see before he would believe. Thank God I’m not ‘Doubting Thomas.’” Let’s face it: This is how he’ll forever be known too. Not repentant Thomas. Not St. Thomas. Nope. “Doubting Thomas.” Still… to say that he was “unbelieving Thomas” seems like it goes a bit too far, doesn’t it? It’s so judgmental and harsh. (Never mind the fact that this is exactly what Jesus is saying here in Greek!) “Unbelieving Thomas” just doesn’t sit well with us. It calls attention to a problematic issue without making it a big ugly sinful unbelieving thing.
And I say all this for good reason. Deep-down we all have a bit of a soft-spot for Thomas. After all, we can relate. Deep-down, we understand his doubts and protestations. We understand his desire; his insistence for proof. Jesus was crucified! He was declared dead by Roman soldiers, and they don’t mistakes. When it comes to putting people to death, these guys were the professionals. Holes in His hands. Holes in His feet. A gaping wound in His side. He died. He was buried. People don’t just rise from the dead. Nobody is going to make a fool of me! “Unless I see…, I will never believe.” We’d have to say the same exact thing about ourselves, our doubts, our protestations… our unbelief.
You know what though? Rather than pick on Thomas, let us consider his great confession of faith. We’re not going to pick on Doubting/Unbelieving Thomas. We’re going to praise faithful, repentant, St. Thomas.
“My Lord and my God!” These are the first and only words out of Thomas’ mouth when he is confronted with the Truth of the Lord of Life. Thomas doesn’t try to offer up excuses or explanations for his unbelief. “My Lord and my God!” That’s it. This is one of the simplest, yet most profound and greatest confessions of faith in all of Holy Scripture. What does it mean?
“My Lord and my God!” “Lord” bespeaks authority/superiority. To say that Jesus is your Lord is to also say that you belong to Him. He is your Master. He is your owner. You are His humble slave. To be a slave of God is a good thing. To be independent is not a good thing. For one thing, independence is an illusion. No one is truly independent or autonomous. As St. Paul says in Romans, we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Either sin, death, and the grave are our masters, or the Lord of Life and His perfect righteousness is our Master. In terms of ownership, again, St. Paul speaks very clearly of the fact that we have been bought with a price, purchased from the bonds of sin, death, and the grave, that redeeming price being the blood of God’s only-begotten Son. Because of Christ, we have been set free from being slaves to sin; not free to do whatever we want, but set free to become slaves of righteousness. By virtue of our baptism into Christ, there is a wonderful transfer or ownership. We now belong to God. He is our owner, our Master, our Lord and Savior. This is Thomas’ confession.
“My Lord and my God!” To call Jesus, not just “God,” but “MY God,” is no small thing! Again, Thomas is confessing the fact that Jesus is the Almighty in the flesh. He is the Alpha, the Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. “You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? You should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”
Thomas is confessing that Jesus is his God. There is nothing more important than the living and victorious Lord of Life. “My Lord and my God!” With these simple, yet profound words, Thomas is confessing how his reason, his intellect, his wants and desires and likes and dislikes have ALL been taken captive and subjugated to his Lord and his God. They have all been relegated to a distant second-place. Thomas would live out the remainder of his life putting this very confession into practice, travelling to India as a missionary, and dying the martyr’s death in service to his Lord and his God. Nothing would come before Jesus… not even his own life or well-being.
Now comes the big question: What about you? Is Jesus your Lord… or do other things have mastery over you? Is Jesus your God, or do other [false] gods and idols come before Him? We won’t even speak about the false gods of money, materialism, lust, or sensuality. Those are easy to pick on (and yet we still deny their mastery over us.) What about pride?
You know what your Lord and God has said about loving others just as you’ve been loved and forgiving others just as you’ve been forgiven.
Look to this cross of your Lord, your God, your Savior and Redeemer. What has this almighty Word of God already said? “IT IS FINISHED!” The price for your redemption; the wage for your sin has been paid in full by Him, once and for all time. It is finished!
We need to confess: “My Lord and my God!” May this powerful and beautiful confession be your confession too. May it not be just empty words, but may this confession be living and active, witnessed in all that you say and do as you, in repentant joy and thanksgiving, bear good and God-pleasing fruits to His praise and glory. I wish you a blessed Resurrection Day.
Adjunct Faculty at College of DuPage, Formerly Adjunct Faculty at American University of Beirut and Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church Lombard, IL Name pronounciation: HI-shahm SHI-hab Hebrews 12: 4 & Philippians 1: 29