Worshiping Jesus as God

The inspired New Testament writings are crystal clear that only God is to be worshiped:

“Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur, and said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get away from here, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”’” Matthew 4:8-10 – cf. Luke 4:5-8

“Thus the secrets of his heart are revealed. And so falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 1 Corinthians 14:25

Our Lord further stated that true believers must worship God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit and on the basis of his revealed truth, e.g., in accord with the Scriptures that the Spirit has produced through holy men whom he appointed:

“‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you all say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. Yet the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.’” John 4:20-24

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17

“For this reason we thank God without ceasing because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God, which effectively works also in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of the Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. For no prophecy at any time was produced by the will of man, but holy men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:20-21

This explains why the Apostles,

“As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up. I myself am a man.’” Acts 10:25-26

“In Lystra there sat a man, crippled in his feet, who had never walked and was lame from birth. He heard Paul speaking, who looked intently at him and perceived that he had faith to be healed and said with a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And he jumped up and walked. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, ‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the main speaker. The priest of Zeus, who was in front of the city, brought bulls and garlands to the gates to offer sacrifices with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, ‘Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, preaching to you to turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them, who in times past allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.’” Acts 14:8-16

And righteous angels expressly rebuked and forbade anyone from worshiping them:

“I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you not do that. I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’” Revelation 19:10

“I, John, am he who saw and heard these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, ‘See that you not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’” Revelation 22:8-9

The Christian Scriptures even furnish an example of what happens to those who permit others to worship or glorify them as a divine being:

“Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon But they came to him in unity, and having made Blastus, the king’s personal servant, their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was fed by the king’s country. On an appointed day, Herod, dressed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave a public speech to them. The mob shouted, ‘It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!’ Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give God the glory. And he was eaten by worms and died.” Acts 12:20-23

And yet the NT documents are replete with cases where the Lord Jesus is worshiped with the express approval of God:

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’… And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again, so that I may come and worship Him also.’… And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-2, 8, 11

“When He came down from the mountains, large crowds followed Him. And then a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will. Be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one. But go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded as a testimony to them.’” Matthew 8:1-4

“While He was speaking these things to them, a certain ruler came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘My daughter is even now dead. But come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.’ Jesus rose and followed him, and so did His disciples.” Matthew 9:18-19

“Then Jesus went from there and departed into the regions of Tyre and Sidon. There, a woman of Canaan came out of the same regions and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David. My daughter is severely possessed by a demon.’ But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us.’ But He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’” Matthew 15:21-25

“Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.” Matthew 20:28 Authorized King James Version (AV)

“Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.’” Mark 5:1-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ He answered, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen Him, and it is He who speaks with you.’ Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped Him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgment, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.’” John 9:35-39

This next one is particularly interesting since Christ is worshiped in the context of the Lord claiming to be the I AM who has the power to walk on the sea, and enable others to do likewise:

“Then Jesus commanded His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. When He sent the crowds away, He went up into a mountain by Himself to pray. And when evening came, He was there alone. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was turbulent. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a spirit.’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer. It is I (ego eimi – I AM). Do not be afraid.’ Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, bid me come to You on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter got out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:22-33 – cf. Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21

Here Jesus is seen doing what the Hebrew Bible ascribes to Yahweh God alone:

“The waters saw You, O God. The waters saw You; they were afraid; the depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered. Your arrows flashed about. The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind, and Your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way is through the sea, and Your path in the great waters, and your footsteps are not seen.” Psalm 77:16-19

“Some went down to the sea in ships, to do business in the vast waters; they saw the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep water. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the sea waves. The sailors went up to the sky, they came down to the depths; their strength melted because of the great danger. They reeled to and fro and staggered like drunken men, and were completely confused. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distress. He made the storm calm, and the sea waves were still. They were glad because the waters were quiet, so He brought them to their desired harbor. Let them praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the people! Let them exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” Psalm 107:23-32

“But now, thus says the Lord who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame kindle on you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honorable, and I have loved you; therefore, I will give men for you, and people for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west… You are My witnesses, says the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shown, when there was no strange god among you; therefore, you are My witnesses, says the Lord, that I am God. Indeed, from eternity I am He; there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I act, and who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43:1-5, 10-13

And here is another remarkable example:

“As they went to tell His disciples, suddenly Jesus met them, saying, ‘Greetings!’ They came and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.’… Then the eleven disciples went away to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him. But some doubted. Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:9-10, 16-20

The disciples worship their risen Lord in the context of Jesus’ claiming to possess absolute power over the entire creation, bearing the same divine name shared by both the Father and the Holy Spirit, and promising to be personally present with all believers everywhere in order to assure the success of their mission to make disciples of all nations. This means that Christ is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, the very essential attributes which belong to God alone!

Christ continued to receive worship even after his physical, bodily ascension into heaven:

“Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. Then they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 22:50-53

In fact, the risen Lord receives the very same worship from the entire angelic host that Yahweh God receives:

“And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’” Hebrews 1:6

The inspired writer has taken the following OT texts, which speak of the worship that Yahweh is supposed to receive from his heavenly creatures,

“Praise, O heavens, his people, worship him, all you gods! For he will avenge the blood of his children, and take vengeance on his adversaries; he will repay those who hate him, and cleanse the land for his people.” Deuteronomy 32:43 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people. LXX

“All who serve carved images, those who boast in idols, will be put to shame. All the gods must worship him.” Psalm 97:7 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all ye his angels. Psalm 96:7 LXX

And applied it to Christ being worshiped by all the angels!

That’s not all. According to the God-breathed Scriptures, every creature in existence must, and eventually shall, worship the Lord Christ forever and ever:

“Therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

“When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests unto our God; and we shall reign on the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voices of many angels, numbering ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ Then I heard EVERY CREATURE which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that are in them, saying: ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen.’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped Him who lives forever and ever.” Revelation 5:8-14

According to Revelation, the One who lives forever and ever is none other than the risen Christ, who also happens to be the First and the Last,

“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though I were dead. Then He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, though I was dead. Look! I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” Revelation 1:17-18

A divine title, which both the Hebrew Bible,

“Thus says the LORD the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the LORD of Hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6 – cf. 48:12; 41:4

And the Quran attribute to God alone:

He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward; He has knowledge of everything. S. 57:3 Arberry

What’s more, in the Philippians passage cited above, the blessed Apostle has taken the following OT text, which speaks of Yahweh commanding the nations to revere him,

“Declare and set forth your case; let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient times? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no God besides Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no other besides Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.” Isaiah 45:21-23

And applied to the universal worship that the Lord Jesus must receive from all of creation!

Here, now, is a helpful syllogism which brings out the implications of the worship that Christ receives:

  1. God alone is to receive worship (specifically in a religious context), and he is the only Being in heaven who is to be worshiped.
  2. Jesus Christ is worshiped in the same way and to the same degree that God the Father is worshiped, especially now that he is in heaven.
  3. Jesus must therefore be God, even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit.

In light of this, it should therefore come as no surprise to find the Disciples of Christ and the inspired Scriptures applying the term God to the Lord Jesus:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with justice and with righteousness, from now until forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

“Now all this occurred to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘A virgin shall be with child, and will bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is interpreted, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:22-23

“And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” John 20:28-29 NKJV

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to the entire flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28

“to whom belong the patriarchs, and from whom, according to the flesh, is Christ, who is over all, God forever blessed. Amen.” Romans 9:5

“as we await the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for Himself a special people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:13-14

“But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, lasts forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.’ You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’” Hebrews 1:8-9

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1

After all, he who receives the exact worship that God alone is supposed to receive must be God in essence.

Amen! Come Lord Jesus, come! We confess that you are the risen Lord to the glory of God the Father! Amen!

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural citations taken from the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Holy Bible.

 

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