Sometimes you can learn as much by what a person does not do as you can from things that they do. A reaction to a word or phrase can tell you something about a person. A lack of reaction can also communicate. This is especially true of something we see the Lord Jesus not do after his resurrection.
In order to get to the significant point, let us first be sure that we see an important biblical command. The first of the Ten Commandments forbids us from worshipping anyone other than the Lord, God, our creator.
Exodus 20:3 – “You shall have no other gods before me.”
I think that, in general, all people who know the Bible realize that God has clearly and completely forbidden us from worshipping someone not God. This is why, when Peter went to the house of Cornelius, he made sure that this good gentile did not bow and worship him.
Acts 10:25-26 – 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”
We can also see the same pattern from Paul and Barnabas when the people of Lystra tried to offer sacrifice to them.
Acts 14:13-18 – 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
Even an angel commanded the apostle John not to bow to him in worship.
Revelation 19:10 – Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
So, we can establish from Old Testament commands and New Testament practices that we are not to bow down to worship someone who is not God. Similarly, we learn from Peter, Paul, and an angel that the proper response of someone who is not God to a person trying to worship him is to put a stop to it. It would be blasphemy to receive worship as God for one who is not God.
Which makes something that Jesus does not do at the end of the Gospel According to John totally fascinating. Watch what Jesus does not do after he reveals to doubting Thomas that he has truly risen from the dead and Thomas responds.
John 20:27-29- 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus tells Thomas to come and touch him as Thomas had demanded to do before he would believe. Thomas responds with worship. He cries out that Jesus is his Lord and God.
Now, it is blasphemous for Jesus to receive this praise from Thomas, to not put it away, if Jesus is not God. If Jesus did not believe himself to be the Lord God, he should have told Thomas, “Don’t say that. I too am a servant like you.” But Jesus did not do so. Instead, Jesus affirmed that it is good for Thomas to see this, and it is even better for those who believe without having a physical encounter with the risen Lord.
By his refusal to correct Thomas, Jesus declares to us all that he really is the Lord God. Jesus is worthy of worship. Jesus is the one who made us, who paid for our sins, and who rose from the grave. He is not a mere man. He is not a prophet alone. Jesus is deity, the same God who gave the Ten Commandments, and he knows it.