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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus

Don Stewart :: Does the Fact That Jesus Received Worship Prove That He Is God?

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Does the Fact That Jesus Received Worship Prove That He Is God?

What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus – Question 10

In a number of instances in the four gospels we find people worshipping Jesus as Lord. For example, a blind man that Jesus healed said:

And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. (John 9:38 KJV)

This verse seems to clearly imply that people worshipped Jesus because they recognized He was God Himself. Other accounts record something similar.

It Does Not Necessarily Imply Deity

Do these accounts of Jesus receiving worship prove that He is deity? That He is God? Not necessarily. The Greek word that is translated, “worship” can have the idea of respect. It does not necessarily mean the worship of deity. A number of observations need to be made as we look at what the New Testament has to say.

1. The Incident with the Leper: It Was More Likely Respect than Worship

The Bible says that a leper approached Jesus and asked for healing. Matthew records what happened as follows:

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:1, 2 NRSV)

In this context the leper bowed before Jesus. The word Greek translated, “bow the knee” or “knelt” is translated “worship” in other contexts. Some Bible translations render the word as “worship,” here in Matthew. It is doubtful, however, that the leper was worshipping Jesus in the same way that he worshipped God. In this context he seems to be coming to Jesus more out of respect than of adoration.

2. Jesus Did Receive the Worship of the Crowd

In the certain contexts, the worship of Jesus does show that He is God. When Jesus came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the crowds worshipped Him. Again we read what happened in Matthew’s gospel:

When the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing miracles he performed and the children shouting in the temple courtyard, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were irritated. They said to him, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus replied, “Yes, I do. Have you never read, ‘From the mouths of little children and infants, you have created praise’?” (Matthew 21:15, 16 God’s Word)

The quotation was from Psalm 8:2. This part of the psalm is addressed to the Lord Himself. It describes the worship that He alone deserves. It says the following:

Our Lord and Ruler, your name is wonderful everywhere on earth! You let your glory be seen in the heavens above. With praises from children and from tiny infants, you have built a fortress. It makes your enemies silent, and all who turn against you are left speechless. (Psalm 8:1-2 CEV)

By applying this to Jesus, it indicates that He is worthy of worship; He is the Lord.

3. The Angels Were Commanded to Worship Jesus

The Bible says that the angels were commanded to worship God the Son, Jesus Christ, when He came into the world. We read of this in the Book of Hebrews. It says,

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6 NRSV)

This is an illustration of worship of the Son commanded by God the Father. If the God the Father commanded worship of the Son then we should follow His command.

4. He Is the Lord of Glory

The Apostle Paul ascribes glory to the Lord Jesus. This would refer to the Shekinah, or heavenly, glory that belongs to God alone:

The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever! Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18 HCSB)

Jesus has the same glory that belongs to God alone.

5. All Will Worship Jesus Someday

The Apostle Paul says that someday everyone will worship Jesus. He wrote the following to the Philippians:

So that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel. (Philippians 2:10 God’s Word)

The living God alone deserves our worship. Jesus Christ, as God, is truly deserving of our worship.

Summary – Question 10
Does the Fact That Jesus Received Worship Prove That He Is God?

As God the Son, Jesus Christ rightfully received worship during His time here on the earth. In fact, Scripture specifically says that Jesus was worshipped. Indeed, we find a number of instances where this occurred.

However we must be careful about concluding that all of the instances when people bowed down to Him prove they acknowledged Him as God. In many cases, it is clear that He is worshipped as the one, true God. Yet, the word translated, “worship” can also be a term of respect.

In some contexts, we should understand the people giving Jesus great respect rather than worship as God. Indeed, there a number of occasions when worship of Jesus was more of giving Him the due respect He deserved.

However, there is no indication that the people thought they were bowing down to God Himself. While this is what they were actually doing, there is nothing in the context which tells us they knew Jesus’ true identity.

Therefore each instance of the use of the word worship when it is directly toward Jesus needs to be decided on the context.

What we do know is this. Jesus Christ is the Lord of glory whom everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, will one day acknowledge. Indeed, the Bible says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord. All creation will worship Him.

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