Monday, November 14, 2016
Those wise men from the East started it! When they found baby Jesus, they “fell down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11). What passage authorized such an unworthy display? It seems sad to travel so far and chance being robbed of their valuable treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, just to engage in unscriptural worship to a newborn! They must not have read what Isaiah pointed out about Yahweh not sharing his glory or praise with another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). According to Paul, there is only one Lord or God not two (Ephesians 4:4-5). The prophets stated that glory and praise was to be given to Yahweh! Yet, here is a baby being worshiped by men who are thought to be wise (Matthew 2:2, 11)! If one could worship baby Jesus without a command, why not the Holy Spirit?
They started it! When Jesus grew up to be a man, a leper mimicked the wise men (Matthew 8:2). Then, it picked up speed with a ruler following their example (Matthew 9:18). Even the apostles joined in by also worshiping him (Matthew 14:33). Even a Canaanite woman joined in (Matthew 15:25). Why? Did Jesus ever ask or demand that anyone worship him? Weren’t they told by Jesus himself to worship the Father (John 4:23)? Didn’t Jesus tell his disciples that worship was to be done in his name but direct to the Father (John 16:23)? So, why did they worshiped Jesus? Why leave such a pattern for others to follow? Wouldn’t that be error of the worst doctrinal kind?
What was this worship? We refer to worship as five acts: singing, praying, preaching, giving, and communion. Of course scripture is strangely silent in describing worship as we do. 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 is the only time the word “worship” is used in a New Testament congregation’s assembly. In my religious circle today, there are very few who would agree with Paul that the man’s act was actually recognized by the first century church as “worship.” Most would be embarrassed by such a display and question it as worship in either “spirit” or “in truth.” Such an individual would probably be taken to one side and corrected, although Paul did not in his letter.
When those folks worshiped Jesus, what specifically did they do to perform that worship? What precisely is mentioned as their worship?
Matthew 8:2: “Leper . . . worshiped him, saying, Lord if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Matthew 9:18: “Ruler . . . worshiped him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.”
Matthew 14:22, 33: “His disciples . . . worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’”
Matthew 15:25: “A woman of Canaan . . . worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’”
If a person is looking for a pattern, these passages give it. In each a request is made. The petition by each identifies their worship. The request is their worship. When Stephen was about to be stoned, he looked up and saw Jesus (Acts 7:55-56). As he was being stoned, he made his request, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit . . . Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” He followed the example of the leper, the ruler, the twelve, and the Canaanite woman. Do we?
Did the wise men start a false movement by worshiping a baby or did Jesus willingly accept man’s worship? He did accepted it, but why? He wasn’t the Father. He never commanded anyone to direct their worship to him. Paul said he “emptied himself” and took “the form of a servant (slave)” (Philippians 2:7 ASV). Didn’t he tell his disciples to worship God the Father? Didn’t he tell the Samaritan woman, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23 NKJV)?
Perhaps man continues to ask a question about Jesus that was vocalized in the first century, “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10; Luke 5:21; 7:48-49; 9:9). Do we know? His name means Yahweh saves or Yahweh is salvation! When the leper, the ruler, the twelve, and the Canaanite woman worshiped him, were they worshiping God (John 1:1)?