Is It Appropriate to Worship Jesus?
“Some of the songs we sing in worship address Christ. Is it appropriate to worship Jesus?”
It is not surprising that some cultists, who deny the deity of Christ, should eschew the worship of the Lord.
What is shocking is the fact that some—who are quite sincere, but who ought to know better, and hopefully will learn better—are expressing themselves in opposition to the idea that Christ is worthy of worship. One man has compiled a significant list of songs which he feels ought to be expunged from church hymnals because they address Christ in sentiments of worship. In fact, a recently-published hymnal has removed those songs which reflect any direct address to the Savior!
Is the criticism valid? We confidently deny that it is.
(1) A divine being, i.e., one who possesses the nature of deity, is worthy of worship. Both Testaments repeatedly affirm this concept (see Psalm 18:3; Matthew 4:10; Revelation 22:9). If it is alleged that only the Father is under consideration in such passages, we reply that such is an unwarranted assertion which not only lacks proof, it contradicts other biblical references.
The truth is, God, as a being, is deserving of praise. If it is the case that Christ is divine (John 1:1; 20:29; Hebrews 1:8), and if deity is worthy of worship, then it follows that Christ is worthy of Christian praise.
(2) During his earthly ministry, Jesus frequently allowed himself to be worshiped. There are numerous passages which portray the Lord in this light (see Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; Mark 5:6-7; John 9:35-38). It will not do to argue that these texts only show that some merely “reverenced” Jesus in much the same way one would honor any important dignitary.
Consider, for instance, the case of the disciples’ demeanor after Jesus had walked upon the Sea of Galilee. When the Lord entered the boat, these men “worshipped him, saying, Of a truth you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). They were honoring him as a divine being—that is beyond dispute.
Further it is not without great significance that when folks bowed before the Lord and worshiped him, in not a single case did he ever rebuke the worshipers and suggest that he was unworthy of such adoration. Christ thus stands in dramatic contrast to Peter, who refused worship (Acts 10:25-26), and even to angels, who similarly did not allow themselves to be so revered (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9).
(3) Even the angels worship Christ. In one of his foundational arguments designed to show the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old, the writer of Hebrews affirms that all of the angels (through whom the Mosaic law came) worship Christ (the author of the new law): “Let all the angels of God worship him” (1:6).
Since angels worship Christ, and as we are “lower” than they (Hebrews 2:7), it follows that our worship of the Lord is entirely appropriate. Surely no one can carefully study the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation and not see that the Lamb of God is worthy of the worship of the entire creation. In fact, Jesus is given the same sort of adoration as the Father (see 5:13b).
(4) Paul explicitly states that Christ is so exalted that, in his name “every knee should bow” and every tongue confess that he is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). The reference to bowing the knee is an obvious allusion to worship (cf. Isaiah 45:23; Romans 11:4).
Clearly, Christ is worthy of worship. Those who are voicing objections to such are in error.
Scripture references: Psalm 18:3; Matthew 4:10; Revelation 22:9; John 1:1, 20:29; Hebrews 1:8; Matthew 8:2, 9:18, 14:33, 15:25, 20:20; Mark 5:6-7; John 9:35-38; Matthew 14:33; Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9; Hebrews 2:7; Philippians 2:10-11; Isaiah 45:23; Romans 11:4