HOUSMAIL Number HM#011 - WORSHIP OF JESUS? 29 December 1998
I received the following question in response to Bible Digest Nos. 87, 88, 89 & 90. I thought it might be worth sharing my answer.
After perusing these studies, I would like you to answer the following:
Did the disciples worship Jesus?
Should Christians worship someone other than God?
It depends what you mean by "worship". The word seems to have several different shades of meaning.
In the English language it can mean:
1. Reverent homage or service paid to God.2. Recognition, honor, respect given to men.
3. Great love or adoration for a person or thing.
4. A title of respect for some officials. (such as magistrates or mayors)
1. To bow down before.2. By kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance,whether in order to express respect or to make supplication.
WORSHIP OF GOD ALONE
We have seen above that "worship" has several meanings. But there is ONE particular sense in which GOD ALONE is to be worshipped. Worship in this sense applies to no other.
There are many places in the Old Testament where it is clear that The LORD is to be the sole object of divine worship. The LORD (Yahweh) is the ONLY GOD.
"For thou shalt worship NO OTHER GOD: for the LORD, (Yahweh) whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14)
It is quite clear from many OT references that God the Father is Yahweh, and that Jesus is NOT Yahweh.
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
It was Jesus who said:
"You shall worship the Lord your God and him ONLY shall you serve". (Matt 4:10)
From this we understand that Jesus directs all (primary) worship to His Father, and that Jesus Himself intends us to understand that He is NOT to be worshipped as the One True God.
THE STATUS OF JESUS
When the OT prophets foretell the coming of the Messiah, he is made SECOND in rank after GOD.
e.g. "Sit thou at my right hand." (Psalm 110:1)
Any HONOR, or RANK, predicted for the Messiah, is DERIVED or DELEGATED from His Father.
WORSHIP OF JESUS
"Let all the angels of God worship him." (Hebrews 1:6)
"My Lord and my God". (John 20:28)
BY ALL MEN.
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which 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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)
In each of these places "worship" cannot mean quite the same as it does when applied to Yahweh. Instead it has the secondary meaning of bowing the knee to someone of superior rank.
In Australia, it is customary to bow to the Governor General, not in his own right, but as a token of homage to the Queen, whose representative he is. When we "worship" Jesus, it means much the same thing. He is the RULER appointed by GOD. We acknowledge the authority of God vested in Him as God's representative.
Philippians explains that men are to bow before Jesus (worship) because He has been exalted by God. This is actually worship of GOD, WHO EXALTED Him. It is done to the GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER ..... not to Jesus as God!
WORSHIP OF MEN
"But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have WORSHIP in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee." (Luke 14:10) Newer versions use "honor" instead of "worship".
"Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan ..... to come and WORSHIP before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." (Revelation 3:9)
Of course the MEN who are worshipped here are NOT supplanting God, or being worshipped as GOD! They are merely being acknowledged as of superior rank to those who bow before them.
We close with the last message from the angel who brought the vision to John from Jesus. Speaking for Jesus, the angel said:
WORSHIP GOD !