I Am God—Worship Me
All people who correctly identify themselves as Christians have one thing in common: they all believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and worship Him as such. In spite of a kaleidoscope of doctrinal differences, if they don't believe this, they cannot properly be called "Christian." Note that there are groups that don't, however, and in effect misappropriate the word.
We believe Jesus is the second Person of a triune God who was sent by God the Father to be born into the world to redeem sinful mankind. The Bible is quite clear about the fact that Jesus existed as God from eternity past, and briefly and voluntarily interrupted His heavenly existence to come to earth to be born as a man in a body of flesh so He could do the job. He was crucified to take the judgment for our sin in our place, resurrected to break the curse of sin and death on our behalf, and then ascended back into heaven to serve as our High Priest during the current Church Age.
Admittedly, the fact that Jesus is God isn't the easiest thing in the world to get your head around, especially with our fleshly, three-dimensional pea brains. But Christians fully believe, based on clear teaching in the Bible, that Jesus never stopped being God even while He temporarily lived on earth in a body of flesh. Jesus came to show us the Father, and He made it as clear as He possibly could that He and the Father are one (John 10:30), and that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father (John 14:9). In a nutshell:
Christians are the only people on earth who believe Jesus is God.
The divinity of Jesus Christ—the fact that Jesus possessed the divine nature of God while living as a man in a body of flesh is the one single thing that just sticks in the craw of every other religion on earth, and it always has been. Other religions try to reduce Him to a mere prophet, or a great moral teacher of some kind. New Agers try to turn Him into someone who achieved Christ consciousness, or some such pseudo-spiritual claptrap. Jesus is many things to many other religions—anything but God, that is.
Not only that, but since Jesus possesses the divine nature of God, He is worthy of worship as God. Christians worship Jesus as they do God the Father, which is a blasphemous outrage that every other religion on earth chokes on like a chicken bone, and there are legions of people in the world today who have made it their mission in life to viciously attack this idea—and anyone who believes it.
One popular line of attack on the divinity of Jesus Christ—and one that is gaining traction today—is based on what Jesus actually said in the Bible.
More precisely, it's based on what Jesus didn't say.
It may come as a surprise to some Christians who don't know the Bible very well that Jesus never once actually came right out and uttered the following words anywhere in Scripture:
I am God.
Similarly, Jesus never once came right out and uttered these words:
And the fact that He didn't state these things directly has become the basis for virulent attacks on His claims of divinity, especially from the Muslim world. There is a growing legion of Muslims who have been taught by popular Muslim apologists to challenge Christians in the following manner:
"Show me in your Bible where Jesus said 'I am God' or 'Worship me.'"
And if you can't, then Christianity must be wrong. Of course, it doesn't seem to trouble them that Jesus never actually come out and said "I am not God, do not worship me" either. This is actually a good tactic, because the majority of average Christians don't know the Word well enough to mount an effective counter-argument. They're liable to end up hemming and hawing and saying things like...
"Yeah, well, He meant this and He meant that, yada yada yada...and well, we believe Jesus is God because...that's just what we believe. So there."
Many Christians may even feel a sense of frustration and end up wondering why Jesus didn't come out and say point blank that He was God and that He was to be worshiped as God, because it's true that there is no one single verse they can point to where He says either of these straight out. Argh...
As a result, Muslims and various scoffers walk away feeling justified in their unbelief. Muslims believe what the Qur'an says about Jesus, which is that He was born of a virgin, was a great prophet (second only to Muhammed), was never crucified, and certainly never resurrected. They revere Him, but they revere Him only as a prophet that preceded the great and mighty Muhammed, and the Qur'an has them convinced that to believe Jesus is the Son of God is blasphemy of the highest order because Allah is one single entity, not three, as believed by those deluded, polytheistic Christians.
This specific challenge to the divinity of Christ has been popularized in recent years by Muslim apologist Zakir Naik, a Mumbai-born preacher who is regarded by his fans as the closest thing Islam has to a rock-star televangelist. Naik is considered by many Muslims as one of the leading defenders of Islam, and numerous videos of his talks can be found on YouTube in which he quotes Bible verse after Bible verse out of context and in a rhythmic, rapid-fire manner in his inept efforts to undermine the belief that Jesus is God.
Naik is also what motivated me to write this article, because I want to present the case in a clear, biblical manner that yes, Jesus did claim to be God and yes, He did indicate that He was to be worshiped as God, and all people like Zakir Naik do is yank snippets of Scripture out of context and give them the desired spin so that unsuspecting listeners will leave with the desired opinion.
First, let me address one fundamental question:
Why didn't Jesus come right out and say "I am God"?
Was He trying to be coy? Was He being evasive, or trying to tease His followers for some reason? After all, after one particularly testy exchange with unbelieving Jews, Jesus said "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58), which every Jew present understood to mean He was claiming to be God. That's why they were immediately ready to stone Him—this was blasphemy.
Yet the fact remains that Jesus never said the words "I am God." I had never given it much thought before writing this article, but it finally hit me.
Jesus was talking to first century Jews, whose concept of God consisted of God the Father alone—Yahweh, HaShem, Adonai. One solitary entity, not unlike what Muslims believe about Allah. Talk to any Jew today and you'll hear the same thing again and again:
God is one—one single entity, not some kind of "Trinity" like those deceived Christians blather on about. What foolishness to think that God could or would ever lower Himself to walk the earth as a man! How dare you insult God with such a blasphemous notion!
That was essentially the belief that Jesus was confronted with during His earthly ministry two thousand years ago. But God wanted to reveal more about Himself to His people Israel, and ultimately to all of mankind. That was one of the reasons He sent His Son into the world. He wanted to reveal to them and to us that He does exist in the form of three distinct Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He wanted to give man a deeper revelation of His nature in the process of providing for man's redemption, but as a nation Israel rejected and hardened themselves to it.
In His sovereign knowledge, God knew they would do just that, and so He has allowed the Jews to remain hardened to this revelation while He builds His Church, a body of primarily Gentile believers who have received this revelation and have been born of His Spirit through faith in His Son.
If Jesus had gone around saying "I am God...I am God...I am God" everywhere He went, the Jews would have misunderstood Him—it would have been a case of gross miscommunication. They would have assumed He was saying "I am God the Father"—the only concept of God they had. But that's not true—Jesus isn't God the Father. He's God the Son, and the Jews would have hammered Him with the same questions many ask today:
If Jesus is God, then who was He praying to?
If Jesus is God, then who "sent" Him?
If Jesus is God, then who did He keep calling "Father"?
Jesus didn't say
"I am God,"
He showed them
He was God.
And so on and so forth. In that case, He never would have gotten through to anyone. So, if saying "I am God" outright would have confused the Jews and completely shut them down towards Him, then how could He get it across to them that He possessed the divine nature of God? Simple:
Jesus said and did things the Jews knew only God could say and do.
Jesus said and did things He could never say or do unless He was God in the flesh. Jesus didn't say "I am God," He showed them He was God.
In the first part of this article, I want to present to you a list of seven things that only God can legitimately say or do, or that can legitimately be attributed to Him, all based squarely on Scripture. And just to view it from an Islamic standpoint, I want to give you a reference from the Qur'an to confirm that it says the same thing of Allah. Note that I do not believe Allah is the same as the God of the Bible: I just want to confirm that the Qur'an says something similar about Allah for the benefit of my Muslim friends.
Then I want to show you that Jesus did in fact clearly and unequivocally proclaim and establish that He was God in the flesh by saying or doing these exact same things, or in one case having the same thing attributed to Him—things that only God can legitimately say, do, or have attributed to Him according to not just the Bible, but the Qur'an as well.
In the second part of the article, I want to give you another list of seven passages of Scripture from the Bible that clearly confirm that Jesus received worship—worship that rightly belongs to God alone—and never once rejected or rebuked such worship, which He would have been compelled to do if He had in fact been a mere prophet, as believed by Muslims and others.
Like Father, like Son
Here are seven things that only God can say, do, or have properly attributed to Him, and how each one applies directly to Jesus.
1. Only God could create the universe
First off, only God could create the universe. And BAM, there we are, in the opening verse of the Bible:
1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 AKJV)
Note, however, that it doesn't specify God the Father—it says Elohim, which is plural, and the reason is simple enough. This is a clear hint that there is something going on besides the idea that God exists as a single, solitary Being. In spite of all the linguistic smoke and mirrors that scholars have invoked in their attempts to explain it away, this clearly suggests that there is in some sense a multiplicity inherent in His nature that man is arguably not adequately equipped to fully grasp or explain.
"I just need someone to love": Something finally occurred to me in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible says God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). In other words, He doesn't just love us—He is love. Not the same. Love is an integral part of God's eternal, unchanging character, which means He has always loved from eternity past. But think about love for a second. There is no definition of love that doesn't involve an object of some sort. You can love smoked salmon. You can love the Seattle Seahawks. You can love your sweetheart. You can love God and God can love you, but the point is that there is no such thing as love without an object—no one can truly love in a vacuum. It makes no sense. So, if God is a single, solitary Person, how could He "love" from eternity past—before He created anything or anybody—if He didn't have something or somebody to love? That's a toughie, but as usual the Bible has the answer:
35The Father loves the son, and has given all things into his hand.
(John 3:35 AKJV)
The doctrine of the Trinity explains about as neatly and simply as it can be explained how God could love in a vacuum—there is no vacuum! God exists as three Persons, and each member of the Trinity has loved the other two from eternity past. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, they both love the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit loves 'em right back. They always have, and they always will—from eternity past and for eternity future. Problem solved.
As I said, I want to bring my Muslim friends on board by demonstrating that the Qur'an is in agreement:
2It is Allah who erected the heavens without pillars that you [can] see; then He established Himself above the Throne and made subject the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. He arranges [each] matter; He details the signs that you may, of the meeting with your Lord, be certain.
3And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers; and from all of the fruits He made therein two mates; He causes the night to cover the day. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.
— The Qur'an
According to the Qur'an, Allah did indeed create the heavens and the earth.
So, does the Bible say anything about Jesus creating the universe?
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(John 1:1–3 AKJV / emphasis added)
It sure does. This is the only one of the seven points I have listed here that involves something that was said about Jesus, rather than something He said or did Himself. In other words, evidently Jesus—God the Son—was part of that Elohim business mentioned back in Genesis 1:1.
2. Only God is the first and the last
Only God can rightly say that He is the first and the last, or that nothing existed before Him and nothing will exist after Him, after He is gone from the scene (because He will exist for eternity):
6Thus said the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
(Isaiah 44:6 AKJV / emphasis added)
OK, what about Allah?
3He is the First and the Last, the Ascendant and the Intimate, and He is, of all things, Knowing.
— The Qur'an
In the book of Revelation, John has a vision of the risen Christ, who tells him to write the things he has seen, the things which are, and the things that will be in the future. But before the vision really kicks into high gear, Jesus has something to say:
17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.
(Revelation 1:17 AKJV / emphasis added)
3. Only God is the ultimate truth
Few things get people's panties in a wad quicker in today's "anything goes" society than saying there is a source of absolute truth. And few things will inspire those same people to form a lynch mob quicker than telling them that source of absolute truth is God's Word.
The opinions of men come and go, but God is the source of all that is true:
5Into your hand I commit my spirit: you have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
(Psalm 31:5 AKJV / emphasis added)
According to the Qur'an, this applies to Allah as well:
6That is because Allah is the Truth and because He gives life to the dead and because He is over all things competent.
— The Qur'an
6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
(John 14:6 AKJV / emphasis added)
Only God can say "I am the truth," and that's exactly what Jesus said.
4. Only God can ultimately forgive sins
David was a man after God's own heart, and one reason was because he recognized that his sin was not ultimately against his mistress Bathsheba. It was not ultimately against her husband Uriah, whom he deliberately arranged to be slain in battle. His sin was ultimately against God, and he sought the forgiveness of the only one who can ultimately forgive sin:
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight: that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge.
(Psalm 51:2–4 AKJV / emphasis added)
Similarly, Allah forgives sins according to the Qur'an:
135And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins—and who can forgive sins except Allah?—and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.
— The Qur'an
Of course, the Qur'an is a bit hazy on the particulars of the circumstances under which Allah forgives, but at least it says he does.
In Mark 2, Jesus has a run-in with the Pharisees because He told a sick man his sins were forgiven as He was getting ready to heal him, which they considered blasphemy for the simple reason that they knew God alone had the authority to do that.
5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins be forgiven you. 6But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7Why does this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said to them, Why reason you these things in your hearts? 9Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your bed, and walk? 10But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (he said to the sick of the palsy,) 11I say to you, Arise, and take up your bed, and go your way into your house. 12And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
(Mark 2:5–12 AKJV / emphasis added)
Jesus uses the opportunity to demonstrate that He has the authority to forgive sin, because He follows it up by demonstrating that He has the authority to heal.
5. Only God is the final judge
In several places in Scripture, God is seen to be the ultimate judge who will judge the world:
12Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
(Joel 3:12 AKJV / emphasis added)
7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he has prepared his throne for judgment.
8And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
(Psalm 9:7–8 AKJV / emphasis added)
11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
(Revelation 20:11–13 AKJV / emphasis added)
Similarly for Allah in the Qur'an:
56[All] sovereignty that Day is for Allah; He will judge between them. So they who believed and did righteous deeds will be in the Gardens of Pleasure.
57And they who disbelieved and denied Our signs—for those there will be a humiliating punishment.
— The Qur'an
After the Second Coming, when Jesus returns to establish the Millennial Kingdom, one of His first orders of business is to judge who will be granted or denied entrance into the kingdom in an event known as the Sheep and Goat Judgment. Jesus describes this in the Olivet Discourse:
31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
(Matthew 25:31–32 AKJV)
6. Only God can give life/raise the dead
Naturally, only God has power and authority over life and death:
6The LORD kills, and makes alive: he brings down to the grave, and brings up.
(1 Samuel 2:6 AKJV)
As does Allah, according to the Qur'an:
7And [that they may know] that the Hour is coming—no doubt about it—and that Allah will resurrect those in the graves.
— The Qur'an
There are several places in the New Testament where Jesus raises the dead, demonstrating He has authority to give life. In John 5, Jesus explains:
25Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27And has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.
(John 5:25–29 AKJV / emphasis added)
Note that Jesus says that not only has the Father given Him the divine authority to give life, but also the divine authority to judge (see no. 5).
For another example, note what Jesus says to the woman at the well:
25Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Believe you this? 27She said to him, Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
(John 11:25–27 AKJV / emphasis added)
7. God won't allow the glory due Him to be given to another
In a number of places in the Old Testament, God makes it clear that He is a jealous God that won't tolerate the glory that is due Him as the Creator of the universe to be given to anything or anyone else. Since He created all things, obviously any created thing or being is below Him and not worthy of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him as Creator.
In other words, it's the potter who deserves the glory, not the pottery.
8I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
(Isaiah 42:8 AKJV)
This is also reflected in the Second Commandment:
3You shall have no other gods before me.
(Exodus 20:3 AKJV)
How deeply it must insult God to see men worship idols they call "gods"—things that in God's eyes are so many worthless trinkets made of the very wood, stone, gold, or silver that He created in the first place.
Similarly, the Qur'an states that all things exalt Allah:
1Whatever is in the heavens and earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
— The Qur'an
In the discourse He delivers at the Last Supper (John 13–17), Jesus already knows He is going to be crucified in a few hours, be raised from the grave on the third day, and then return to heaven 40 days later. He is basically saying goodbye to His beloved disciples, and He prays what is one of the most astonishing prayers recorded in Scripture. Here's an excerpt:
1These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: 2As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. 3And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
(John 17:1–5 AKJV)
Jesus is coming to the end of His earthly mission and will be returning to heaven shortly, and asks the Father to give Him the glory He had with the Father in eternity past. Now, please understand:
Lock Him up! If Jesus had been an ordinary man—even a great prophet or an enlightened spiritual teacher or whatever, then for Him to say that He possessed the glory due God while He was with God the Father in heaven in eternity past and now wants God the Father to restore it to Him since He is preparing to return to the heavenly realm would have been blasphemy of the first order. Blasphemy? It would have been lunacy. There is absolutely no conceivable way Jesus could legitimately say this unless He was God in the flesh, and if His disciples actually believed He was a mere prophet, they should have stoned Him on the spot—or at least had Him locked up in the first-century equivalent of the loony bin.
Please don't miss this:
This one single passage, properly understood, utterly and completely demolishes once and for all the notion that Jesus was a mere prophet.
This is why it makes no difference how high a pedestal you place Jesus Christ on: if He isn't God to you, then please—don't call yourself a "Jesus-follower" or whatever. You know nothing of Him and have no part with Him.
Oh, and there's a little gem tucked away in verse 3 that many people miss:
3And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
(John 17:3 AKJV / emphasis added)
In other words, eternal life does not lie in knowing God the Father alone—it lies in knowing the God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ whom He sent, because we can only know God the Father through God the Son. This is basically a restatement of a much more famous verse that Jesus uttered a little earlier in the same discourse:
5Thomas said to him, Lord, we know not where you go; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
(John 14:5–6 AKJV / emphasis added)
Understand that when Jesus came into the world to be born of a virgin and live a life in the flesh as a man, He stepped out of the eternal, heavenly realm and had to temporarily set aside the fullness of His divine power. He had to become one of us, except with the Father's nature in His DNA, so to speak. He relied completely on the Holy Spirit for His power and ability, as can we. Thus He could be like us physically, but have no sin of His own so He could be qualified to atone for ours.
But that's just while He lived on earth as a man. After the Resurrection and the Ascension, He returned to the heavenly realm and His glory and power as the second Person of a triune God were fully restored. And since we're on the subject, let me use this opportunity to break out my pooper-scooper and clean up this one particular little mess.
Many people—especially Muslims like Zakir Naik—who argue against the divinity of Jesus Christ love to yank verses or fragments of verses like the following completely out of context in an effort to support their argument. For example, one of Zakir Naik's favorite one-liners is a line from Jesus' discourse at the Last Supper:
28...my Father is greater than I.
(John 14:28b AKJV)
And the argument goes like this:
If God the Father is greater than Jesus, then how on earth can you deluded Christians believe Jesus is God?! God is greater than all, right? I mean, Allah hu Akbar and all that.
There are several other verses that serve a similar function, where Jesus says something about the Father or prays to the Father or something of that nature, and to a biblically semiliterate person it might seem to indicate that Jesus is in some way on a lower level than the Father, and so logically cannot be God, as claimed by Christians.
What these people miss, however, is explained by what I said a moment ago. Jesus has existed as God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, since eternity past. Two thousand years ago, He was sent by the Father—the first Person of that Trinity—to temporarily set aside the full extent of His power and glory as God and humble Himself and be born into the world to live as a man in a body of flesh, and ultimately be obedient to the point of going to the cross and laying down His life to redeem us from the penalty of sin.
5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. 9Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5–11 AKJV / emphasis added)
So while Jesus walked the earth in the form of a man—a servant, no less, in a sense the Father was greater than He was. After Jesus completed His mission on earth, however, He ascended to heaven and the Father restored to Him the glory He had with the Father as before, as we read in John 17:1–5 above.
By the way, this effectively reduces about 80–90 percent of the arguments against the divinity of Christ that I've heard from Muslims to so much...well, you know. Let's just say I'm glad I've got my pooper-scooper handy.
One last related point I want to bring out before finishing this section has to do with the way I've heard some people characterize this final point concerning God's glory.
Some teachers cast this in a way that suggests that God doesn't "share" His glory—and maybe it's just semantics, but in my opinion this can be slightly misleading. God says in Isaiah 42:8 "my glory will I not give to another," but there is a difference between God not tolerating the glory that should be given to Him being given to a lesser creature, and God being unwilling to glorify or give glory to another. It's apples and oranges.
The point I want to make is that the Bible makes it quite clear that those in Christ are going to share in His glory, and so to say that God doesn't "share" His glory is potentially misleading, and it's misleading because there are numerous verses of Scripture that clearly indicate that this is exactly what God the Father and God the Son are going to do.
For example, in John 17 Jesus prays for Himself (vv. 1–5), for His disciples (vv. 6–19), and then He prays for His future Church (vv. 20–26). At one point He says:
22And the glory which you gave me I have given them; [i.e., the Church] that they may be one, even as we are one.
(John 17:22 AKJV / emphasis & comments added)
In Romans, Paul writes:
1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1–2 AKJV / emphasis added)
In other words, we have access to God's grace through faith, and look forward to the glory He will bestow on us, or share with us.
Later in Romans, Paul says God intends to make His glory known to believers, and that He has prepared to glorify us:
22What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had before prepared to glory, 24Even us, whom he has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
(Romans 9:22–24 AKJV / emphasis added)
Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians that we have been chosen from the beginning for salvation and called to obtain the glory of Jesus:
13But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13–14 AKJV / emphasis added)
So we see in these and a number of other verses that God clearly intends to share His glory with us in heaven, and is going to glorify those who have trusted in His Son for their salvation. But this has nothing to do with the idea that God doesn't allow the glory that is due Him to be given to idols or false gods.
The point of this entire section can be summarized as follows:
Jesus never said the words "I am God," and He did it for a reason—if He had, He would have been misunderstood. In fact, He did something much better: He said and did things only God could say and do!
So much for the notion that Jesus isn't God just because He never said the words "I am God."
Now, what about the fact that Jesus never said "Worship me"?
He is worthy
First of all, understand that the Bible prohibits the worship of anything but God—God alone is worthy of our worship. That includes idols, graven images, false gods, animals, angels, and people—not matter how highly venerated. In several places throughout Scripture, someone begins to worship someone he shouldn't and is immediately stopped and admonished not to do so.
25And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
(Acts 10:25–26 AKJV / emphasis added)
Peter wasted no time in telling Cornelius to get up and stop worshiping him, because he was just a man—not God.
While Paul and Barnabas were preaching the gospel in Lystra, a city in what is today south-central Turkey, they healed a man who had been lame since birth. When the local people saw this, they were astonished and started worshiping them as gods:
8And there sat a certain man at Lystra, weak in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: 9The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on your feet. And he leaped and walked. 11And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. 12And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 13Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. 14Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 15And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vanities to the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.
(Acts 14:8–15 AKJV / emphasis added)
Paul and Barnabas stopped them, and stressed to them that they were mere men just as they were and redirected their attention to God.
In John's vision in the book of Revelation, at one point he begins to worship an angel, who stops him at once and admonishes him to worship only God:
8And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. 9Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
(Revelation 22:8–9 AKJV / emphasis added)
So, Scripture makes it abundantly clear that no prophet would ever presume to stand idly by and allow himself to receive the worship that is due God alone. This is an absolute, flat-out no-no, and anyone who did so would be a candidate for stoning under the Law of Moses. Still with me?
Well, what do we see in Scripture in regard to Jesus—this Jesus who so many insist is just a great prophet who came to give us God's message, or to show us one of many ways to find God, or to be better people? Here are a few verses that are germane to the idea of Jesus being worshiped:
1. The magi following His birth
Every Nativity scene ever made shows the magi visiting the baby Jesus:
11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented to him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
(Matthew 2:11 AKJV / emphasis added)
Sorry, but every Nativity scene ever made is historically inaccurate. Jesus was a toddler by the time the magi showed up (estimates of Jesus' age at the time vary from one to two years), so He probably didn't have much to say. But there is no mention of His parents voicing any objections to their worship, and that's because Joseph and Mary knew who He was.
2. After walking on water
When Jesus came strolling out to meet the disciples in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, you might say it made quite an impression on them:
28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you on the water. 29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? 32And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth you are the Son of God.
(Matthew 14:28–33 AKJV /emphasis added)
They worshiped Him, and there is no indication that Jesus told them to stop.
3. Those He healed
On one occasion when Jesus healed a blind man, the man worshiped Him:
35Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said to him, Do you believe on the Son of God? 36He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37And Jesus said to him, You have both seen him, and it is he that talks with you. 38And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. 39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
(John 9:35–39 AKJV / emphasis added)
And Jesus didn't say a word to dissuade the man from doing so.
Even children worshiped Him, much to the annoyance of the Jewish religious leaders:
15And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, 16And said to him, Hear you what these say? And Jesus said to them, Yes; have you never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise?
(Matthew 21:15–16 AKJV / emphasis added)
Instead of scolding them, Jesus backed it up with Scripture.
5. The women at the tomb
A small group of women went to Jesus' tomb at the crack of dawn on Resurrection Sunday to attend to Jesus' body, but were shocked to find the tomb empty. The huge stone that had sealed the tomb had been rolled completely away from the entrance, and two angels informed them that Jesus had risen. The women raced to tell the disciples the news; but along the way, guess who they met...and guess what they did:
8And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10Then said Jesus to them, Be not afraid: go tell my brothers that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
(Matthew 28:8–10 AKJV / emphasis added)
Did Jesus reject their worship? No, He gently reassured them.
6. After the Resurrection
After He was raised from the grave, Jesus met His disciples on a mountain where He had told them they would see Him:
16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
(Matthew 28:16–17 AKJV / emphasis added)
Any hint of Jesus telling them to cut it out? Any trace of Jesus warning them to knock it off since He was just a man like them, and that they should only worship God? Nope, not a word.
7. At the Ascension
Finally, as Jesus was ascending into heaven, His disciples worshiped Him:
50And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
(Luke 24:50–52 AKJV / emphasis added)
Again, does Jesus admonish them to stop worshiping Him because He is a mere man—just a great prophet—and to worship God alone? OK, in all fairness Jesus was probably passing through the clouds by that time and was out of earshot, but still...the point is abundantly clear:
Jesus never said "Worship me," and the reason is simple: He didn't need to. He openly received worship, and received it in a manner that indicated such worship was completely appropriate (which would have been impossible had He been a mere prophet). He had no need to compel anyone to worship Him because those who did, did so freely because they knew He was God!
Of course, hardcore skeptics could look at these passages and try to find ways to worm around them, as they invariably do, by saying things like this:
Oh yeah? Well, Jesus still never actually said anything in any of these situations that would influence anyone to worship Him—they just did it. Maybe they were wrong to do so, but Jesus just didn't say anything.
Oh yeah? Well, all you hardcore skeptics, this last little gem is just for you.
In John 5, Jesus heals a lame man beside the Pool of Bethesda; but since it's the Sabbath, the Pharisees jump all over Him and Jesus responds with authority. In verse 23, He blows their hair back by telling them in so many words that He should be worshiped in the same way God is:
21For as the Father raises up the dead, and vivifies [i.e., gives life to] them; even so the Son vivifies whom he will. 22For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son: 23That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which has sent him.
(John 5:21–23 AKJV / emphasis & comments added)
That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. OK, well, how do men honor God?
We honor God by worshiping Him!
And Jesus said we should honor Him—God the Son—in exactly same way!
So much for the notion that Jesus isn't God just because He never said the words "Worship me."
The point I want to leave you with is that we see in Scripture again and again where Jesus says and does things that only God can say and do, has things attributed to Him that can only be attributed to God, and openly and unabashedly receives the worship that rightfully belongs to God alone.
That can mean only one thing. When Jesus Christ walked the earth two thousand years ago, He did so as God the Son—God in a body of flesh—and was properly worshiped as such by His followers.
And that means He is no less God, and no less worthy of our worship today.
Greg Lauer / January 2017
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1. Deriv. of "Sunset Over Grass Field" © AOosthuizen at Can Stock Photo
2. "Christ Isolated" © Chris Galbraith at Fotolia.com
3. "Dr. Zakir Naik" © maapu [CC BY]
4. Deriv. of "Christ Isolated" © Chris Galbraith at Fotolia.com
5. "Ascension" by John Singleton Copley [PD]
(All PD and CC-licensed works are via Wikimedia Commons.)
All Scripture is taken from the World English Bible, unless annotated as KJV (King James Version) or AKJV (American King James Version).