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Dominus meus et deus meus

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 they who have not seen and yet have believed.  John 20: 27-29


Carved into the granite above the doors of St Thomas’ Church in St Helier are the words DOMINUS MEUS ET DEUS MEUS (Lord-my-and-God-my).


So, yes indeed, that fits – see the words in bold above.


On all three occasions in John’s biography of Jesus of Nazareth written in AD 90 when John mentions Thomas he always inserts (in Greek) “ho didymus”. This may be a surname. It may indeed identify him as a twin. But the literal meaning is simply “the two”.


Could this be why Jesus spoke to him twice about the same thing? A negative followed by a positive: “Do not disbelieve, but believe.


The first time that John brought Thomas into his biography of Jesus was when Jesus was with him in Galilee and their friend Lazarus had died about 50 miles away in Jerusalem.


Jesus proposed that they all go there despite the fact that Jesus’ life (and theirs) would be in grave danger in that city where the authorities were antagonistic towards Jesus and wanted him dead. What did Thomas say to that proposal? John records his words to his fellow disciples: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.


This was a doggedly loyal disciple of Jesus – and a stoic.


But, Jesus having been cruelly crucified, Thomas was not prepared to accept his possible resurrection. When his fellow disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord”, he stubbornly refused to accept it.


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.


But when he did believe he doubly believed: My Lord and my God! What did he really mean by those two titles?


“My Lord” was the briefest statement he could use to declare categorically that this man Jesus was the one whom he would regard and serve as his master for the rest of his life. The Latin word “Dominus Meus” give us that flavour. It’s like saying, “I declare that it is my will that this man Jesus dominate me for ever.”


The Roman Emperor Domitian, a few years later, when giving an instruction in the third person singular wrote, “DOMINUS ET DEUS NOSTER....” “Lord-and-God-Our commands....” After that he actually became known as “Dominus et Deus Noster.”


Would you willingly say “My Lord and My God” of your boss at work? Or of Jersey’s Bailiff, Chief Minister, or Lieutenant Governor? What had make Jesus worthy of such a commitment from Thomas the Two? It was the fatal wounds willingly accepted by Jesus as he chose death for the good of those who would join him and follow the greatest giver to others and servant of others that this world has ever known.


Also, “My God” was the briefest statement that Thomas could use to attest that this man, this resurrected man, was Almighty God, the creator and giver of life and all things.


But John the biographer places on record the fact that Thomas’ choice is to be made by us in Jersey today. He records Jesus’ words: “Blessed are they who have not seen but have believed.”


The choice is yours. Who is worthy enough to be your Lord? And is that man also your God?

‘The essence of sin is arrogance; the essence of salvation is forgiveness." (Alan Redpath, Pastor and author, 1907-1989)
Salvation does not come from the assent of the head but by the consent of the heart.” (Vance Havner, Author and Preacher, 1901-1986)
Richard Syvret

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