Did Thomas say that Jesus was God?

In John 20:28, Thomas cried out “My Lord and my God” to Jesus when he realized the other disciples were right after all when they said they’d seen Jesus alive and well after his crucifixion (verse 25).

By saying that, though, did Thomas now believe that Jesus was God? Well, if that is what Thomas meant Jesus would have corrected him, just as he corrected other people in earlier chapters in John who said that he, Jesus, was “making himself equal with God” in John 5:18, and “calling himself God“ in John 10:33. He corrected them because in Jesus’ mind only the Father was God, a point he made clear in John 20:17 when he told Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” Jesus totally identified “my God” as the Father.

Jesus never identified himself as God. He described himself instead as “God’s Son,” John 10:36, “the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world.” That was where Jesus’ focus was. It wasn’t on trying to prove he was God; it was on proving through the many “miraculous signs” he did “in the presence of his disciples,” John 20:31, that he was “the Christ, the Son of God,” the Anointed One, the Messiah – meaning he was truly the one who’d been sent by God. And that’s what Jesus wanted people to see when they looked at him. As he said in John 12:45, “When a man looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.”

And that’s what Thomas saw when he cried out, “My Lord and my God.” He looked at Jesus and saw the one who’d sent him. Thomas looked at Jesus and saw the Father, which is exactly what Jesus hoped would happen to Thomas and Philip back in John 14:9 when he told them, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

It took Thomas six chapters and the appearance of Christ fully restored from the dead to open his eyes to the picture he was supposed to get when looking at Jesus. But suddenly he got it. And Jesus was so pleased, that at last Thomas believed what Jesus had prayed for in John 17:21, that the whole world one day would believe the Father had sent him – the hope being that everyone looking at Jesus would say, “My Lord and my God,” with the same wide-eyed understanding that Thomas had, as it dawns on them too that it was, in fact, “the only true God,” the Father (John 17:3), who was living out HIS very life and purpose in Jesus.


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