John wrote in his Gospel that after the resurrection, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and then to the rest of the disciples, except for Thomas. A week later Thomas was with the twelve when Jesus appeared again. This time Jesus spoke directly to Thomas: “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).
Thomas immediately responded, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28).
There can be little doubt that the disciples finally understood Jesus was the Son of God. They had been with him nearly every day for three years. They had seen him heal the sick, feed the thousands, and raise Lazarus from the dead. They had heard God’s voice from Heaven proclaim, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And they had witnessed the brutal events leading up to his crucifixion and death on the cross.
Now here he stood in their midst, scarred but very much the victor over the grave. Confessing him as “my God” was Thomas’s instantaneous response by one who had seen the evidence and believed.
But in that moment Thomas did not just acknowledge Jesus as God. He also proclaimed his allegiance to Jesus as his Lord, which had life-changing implications for Thomas—as it should for every Christ follower today.
WHY SUBMIT TO LORDSHIP?
Webster’s Dictionary defines Lord as “someone having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler.” And in our enlightened twenty-first century, postmodern society, where the rights of the individual are so highly valued, the concept of submitting to someone as Lord feels very old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.
If you were to conduct an interview of your neighbors or coworkers and ask them, “Who’s the boss in your life? Who’s in charge?” I believe the overwhelming majority would respond, “I am.” Being a self-made individual is a highly valued trait today. Self-improvement books fill the shelves of bookstores. Motivational speakers crisscross the country, challenging their audiences to be the best they can be and not to let anyone stand in their way on their rise to the top of the ladder of success.
Yet for a Christian, recognizing, accepting, and submitting to the lordship of Christ is a cornerstone of personal faith.
On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter spoke to a crowd that had gathered in Jerusalem. Some of those people may have been in a crowd that just weeks earlier had chanted, “Crucify him!” when Pilot asked what he should do with Jesus. But on Pentecost, Peter proclaimed boldly, “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36).
Lordship was given to Jesus by the heavenly Father because he had surrendered himself in complete obedience to God and had completed the work of salvation through his death, burial, and resurrection.
The apostle Paul also stressed the connection between the obedience of Christ and his lordship when he wrote his letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:8-11).
As Lord, Jesus deserves our reverence, honor, and obedience. Our daily lives should be lived in a manner that shows we recognize him for who he is and we give him the honor he is due. He has earned it; he is worthy of it!
HOW DO WE GIVE UP CONTROL?
So how is the lordship of Jesus demonstrated in our lives?
Submitting to the lordship of Jesus means that he is the ruler, the boss, the master of your whole life. He cannot be Lord of a part; he must be given control of your whole life. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul wrote, “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Each of us has an inner, private life, unseen to the public, and we have an outer, visible, public life that is seen and heard by those with whom we come in contact day by day.
As Lord, Jesus must be in control of the seen and unseen, the visible and the invisible, the private aspects of our life and the public aspects of our life. He must be Lord of our spiritual and our physical life.
Our inner sanctuary, our spirit and soul, contains our mind, our emotions, and our will. It is in our spirit and soul that we think, feel, choose, decide, dream, and make our plans. Battles are fought and won or lost on the battleground of our private thoughts. Is Jesus Lord over this area of your life?
The writer of Proverbs said, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV). Isaiah wrote, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV). In Matthew 5 Jesus taught that while actions like murder or adultery are clearly sinful, it is in the inclinations of the mind and heart (our private thoughts) where the seeds of sin, like anger and lust, find the fertile ground that leads to public actions.
Therefore, we must never underestimate the importance of giving Jesus lordship of our inner life, which is why the daily discipline of reading Scripture and spending time in prayer and meditation is so crucial to having our mind “stayed” on him.
Giving Jesus lordship of our inner life opens the gates for our spiritual health to be demonstrated in our public life. The outward expression of Jesus’ lordship involves our eyes, our ears, our lips, our hands, our feet, our entire body. Our public life is expressed by what we see, what we say, what we hear, where we go, and what we do. It is vitally important that Jesus be Lord over our public life.
We need to see the lordship of Jesus in the context of our home life, the workplace, the classroom, and the neighborhood. We need to see it in our relationships with family, friends, work colleagues, neighbors, and classmates. We need to see it in our attitude toward possessions, obligations, and responsibilities, and the use of our time and resources.
Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “If Jesus is not Lord of all, then he is not Lord at all.”
Are you willing to take your hands off the controls of your life and allow Jesus to be in control? Is Jesus Lord of your thoughts? Is Jesus Lord of your emotions? Is Jesus Lord of your speech, of your relationships, of your possessions? Is Jesus Christ Lord of your whole life?
Finally, the lordship of Jesus involves willing service. There must be a time in your life when you, like the prophet Isaiah, are willing to say, “Here am I Lord, send me.” One of the great hymns of faith says,
“It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if by a still, small voice He calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where you want me to go.”
Thomas saw the nail-pierced hands of Jesus and immediately surrendered to him as Lord and God.
Are you willing to accept Jesus not only as your Savior, but as your Lord and your God of all?
David Pace serves as a Sr. Vice President with CDF Capital, and as Founding Director of the Kairos Benevolence Fund. David and his wife Joy live near Tucson, Arizona.