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The Blue Letter Bible

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

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Don Stewart

In a number of instances in the gospels we find people worshipping Jesus. A blind man that Jesus healed said.

Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped him (John 9:38).

It Does Not Necessarily Imply Deity

Do these accounts of Jesus receiving worship prove that he is Deity? Not necessarily. The Greek word that is translated, "worship" can have the idea of respect - not necessarily the worship of Deity.

The Incident With The Leper

The Bible says that a leper approached Jesus and asked for healing.

When he had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And behold, a leper came and bowed the knee worshiped him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean" (Matthew 8:1,2).

In this context the leper bowed before Jesus. The word translated, "bow the knee" is translated "worship" in other contexts. Some Bible translations render the word, "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.

Jesus Received 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.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "Have you never read, 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'" (Matthew 21:15, 16).

The quotation was from Psalm 8:2. This part of the psalm is addressed to the Lord himself. It describes the worship that he deserves.

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth, who have set your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have ordained strength, because of your enemies, that you may silence the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2).

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

The Angels Were Commanded To Worship Jesus

The angels are commanded to worship Jesus.

And when he again brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "And let all the angels of God worship him" (Hebrews 1:6).

He Is The Lord Of Glory Paul ascribes glory to Jesus. This would refer to the Shekinah, or heavenly, glory that belongs to God alone.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever (2 Timothy 4:18).
All Will Worship Jesus Someday The apostle Paul says that someday everyone will worship Jesus.
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth (Philippians 2:10).

As God the Son, Jesus rightfully received worship during his time here on the earth. 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. Each instance of the use of the word toward Jesus needs to be decided on the context.

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