Essential to being a Christian is the worship of Christ. To the Christian, Christ was more than just a human role model to show us how to live; He is more than just a cosmic life coach, He is God in flesh. The worship of Christ is essential to the Christian experience. Jesus Christ, the son of God, was the living, breathing expression of the invisible God. He was and is the express image of God the Father’s person (Hebrews 1:1-3).
“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” John 5:23 KJV
It is obvious at just a casual look at how the word “honor” is used in the New Testament that it does not exclusively refer divine worship. Those who deny the deity of Christ will surely point to those passages (Matthew 15:4, 6; 19:19; 27:9; Acts 28:10; 1 Peter 2:17). However, by saying that it does not exclusively refer to divine worship does not mean that it never refers to divine worship. The only way to determine how the Son is to be honored we must find out how the Father is to be honored.
“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:7-9 KJV
This is a reference to:
“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” Isaiah 29:13 KJV
In Matthew 15:7-9 there are three synonyms used in this text: draweth nigh, honoreth and worship. The way we honor the Father is through worship. If there is any doubt as to whether honoring the Father is divine worship, one needs only to read what Jesus quotes from Isaiah (Isaiah 29:13). Surely all will admit this divine worship that is being given to Israel’s God.
Whatever honor the Father means, it must mean the same thing for the Son; “…honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” The gospels, as well as the whole New Testament, are clear that the Son is to be worshipped.
“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. 7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” Hebrews 1:6-8 KJV
Nothing could be clearer in this text than the Hebrew writer’s (Paul, IMNSHO) claim of the Son’s deity, and therefore his qualification to be worshipped. Jesus was worshipped in an incarnational context: “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” I make this point as I adhere to an incarnational sonship view of the Son. By this I mean that I reject eternal sonship, which is the idea that Jesus eternally preexisted the incarnation as the Son, or in more tritheistic Trinitarian terms, God the Son. I believe that Luke 1:35 demands that the Son be understood incarnationally.
I digress. Back to the point that I was making that Jesus was worshipped in the context of the incarnation. For me this is one of the more powerful proofs of the deity of Christ. God alone is to be worshipped; yet, Jesus received worship.
“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Matthew 4:10 KJV
Only God is to be worshipped and served. This eliminates the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18) and humans (Acts 10:25-26; 14:11-15). Yet, Christ was worshiped and never refused it.
· Wise men worshiped Jesus (Matthew 2:2, 8&11).
· A leper worshiped Jesus (Matthew 8:2).
· A ruler worshiped Jesus (Matthew 9:18).
· His disciples worshiped Jesus (Matthew 14:33).
· A woman of Canaan worshiped Jesus (Matthew 15:25).
· A mother worshiped Jesus (Matthew 20:20).
· Mary Magdalene and the other Mary worshiped Jesus (Matthew 28:9).
· Eleven disciples worshiped Jesus (Matthew 28:17).
· The demoniac possessed by a legion of demons worshiped Jesus (Mark 5:6).
· The disciples worshiped Jesus (Luke 24:52).
· A blind man worshiped Jesus (John 9:38).
Not only was Christ worshiped, but He responded in a God-like manner. In each of the cases that angels were worshiped they gave the proper angelic response by refusing the worship and redirecting it to God. Also, each time the apostles were worshiped they gave the proper human response, deflected the worship, and demanded those who would worship them to worship God.
However, we find quite a different response on the part of Christ. Not only did He not refuse the worship, He responded by granting the petitions of the worshipers.
When the leper worshiped Jesus He cleansed him (Matthew 8:3); when the ruler worshiped Jesus he raised his daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:25); when the woman of Canaan worshiped Jesus He made whole her demon vexed daughter (Matthew 15:28); when the demoniac possessed by a legion of demons worshiped Jesus He cast out the demons (Mark 5:8).
While angels gave an angelic response, and men gave the human response, Jesus gave the God response. Christ responded to worship in such a way that it demonstrated that He was God.
Christ was worshiped as God incarnate, the Son of God. The New Testament very clearly understood Jesus, the Son of God, to be God.
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:18 & 23 KJV
The Son of God claims that He is the one that “searcheth the reins and hearts.” Based on the quote from Jeremiah 17:10 this is a very bold claim by the Son of God to be LORD (Yahweh God).
However, when I say that the Son is God, I do not mean as God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. I acknowledge that the Son is God, and is to be worshiped as God, because He is the living, breathing embodiment of God the Father. The Son is the express image God the Father’s person (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-3). When I speak of the Son as being God I do not mean that he is God the Son manifest in the flesh; I mean that He is God the Father manifest in the flesh, the Father incarnate. The Son is God the Father existing as a full and complete man.