By Sam Shamoun
We come to the next segment of our discussion.
The Honor and Worship Jesus Receives in Matthew and Luke-Acts
Not only do we find Jesus being worshiped in a variety of situations throughout Matthew and Luke-Acts,
“As they went to tell His disciples, suddenly Jesus met them, saying, ‘Greetings!’ They came and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.’” Matthew 28:9-10
“Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. Then they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:50-53
Even from the time of his childhood,
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’… And when they came 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 gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-2, 11
Especially in contexts where he displays his sovereign power over both nature and the elemental spirits,
“Then Jesus commanded His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. When He sent the crowds away, He went up into a mountain by Himself to pray. And when evening came, He was there alone. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was turbulent. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a spirit.’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer. It is I (ego eimi – I AM). Do not be afraid.’ Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, bid me come to You on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter got out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:22-33
“Then Jesus went from there and departed into the regions of Tyre and Sidon. There, a woman of Canaan came out of the same regions and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David. My daughter is severely possessed by a demon.’ But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us.’ But He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ But He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s bread and to throw it to dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith. Let it be done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” Matthew 15:21-28
In the same way that the OT describes Yahweh’s sovereignty over the winds and the seas,
“He who alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea.” Job 9:8
“Let them praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the people! And let them offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare His works with rejoicing. Some went down to the sea in ships, to do business in the vast waters; they saw the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep water. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the sea waves. The sailors went up to the sky, they came down to the depths; their strength melted because of the great danger. They reeled to and fro and staggered like drunken men, and were completely confused. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distress. He made the storm calm, and the sea waves were still. They were glad because the waters were quiet, so He brought them to their desired harbor. Let them praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the people! Let them exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” Psalm 107:21-32
As well as over the entire creation as the omnipresent and omnipotent Son who shares the same divine name of the Father and the Holy Spirit,
“Then the eleven disciples went away to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him. But some doubted. Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” Matthew 28:16-20
We also have Jesus justifying such worship by citing a specific OT text which has to do with children praising Yahweh God:
“But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna TO the Son of David,’ they were extremely displeased and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of children and infants You have perfected praise.”’” Matthew 21:15-16
The text that Christ quoted is from the following Psalm:
“[For the end, concerning the wine-presses, a Psalm of David.] O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is your name in all the earth! for your magnificence is exalted above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise, because of your enemies; that you might put down the enemy and avenger.” Psalm 8:1-2 LXX
As the context shows, the Psalter is speaking of Yahweh God receiving praise from babes and sucklings to shame his enemies who refuse to do likewise. And yet Jesus used this same passage to justify the praise and honor he was receiving from the children in order to silence his accusers!
Now the only way that this Psalm could provide justification for the worship that Christ received from the little children is if he is Yahweh God in the flesh; otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense to cite a text which refers to Yahweh receiving worship from babes in order to defend the appropriateness of children praising Jesus.
That Christ was being worshiped as God is further brought out by the word which the children uttered, namely Hosanna, which is a phrase that again comes from the Psalms:
“Save us (hwoshi'ah nna), we ask You, O Lord; O Lord, we ask You, send now success.” Psalm 118:25
As can be seen from the above text, Hosanna is a cry for salvation, a plea to God to help and save. For the children to therefore use this phrase in crying out to Jesus once again demonstrates that they were in fact worshiping Christ as God in the flesh.
Other examples where Jesus is depicted as receiving the worship that the OT ascribes to Yahweh God include the following:
“But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and JESUS standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and THE SON OF MAN standing at the right hand of God.’… They stoned Stephen as he was calling on God, praying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Having said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:55-56, 59-60
Thus, not only is Jesus depicted as having the power to receive the spirits of the dead and to forgive sins, he is even invoked in the same way that the OT saints would invoke and pray to Yahweh God Almighty:
“Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth.” Psalm 31:5
“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool—He is holy! Moses and Aaron were among His priests, even Samuel was among them who called upon His name; they called upon the Lord, and He answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept His statues and the ordinance that He gave them.” Psalm 99:5-7
“I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The cords of death encircled me, and the pains of Sheol took hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I plead with You, deliver my soul.’… I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord… I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:1-4, 13, 17
What’s more, Christ’s identification as the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand to receive this martyr into his heavenly presence, is a direct allusion to the following prophecy from the book of Daniel:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language WORSHIPED (yipelachun) HIM. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14 NIV
By describing the exalted Jesus as that same Son of Man whom the prophet Daniel foresaw, it is clear that Luke’s inspired intent was to portray the risen Christ as the divine eternal King whom all the nations are expected to worship in the same way that God Most High is worshiped,
“Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. HIS kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will WORSHIP (yipelachun) and obey HIM.” Daniel 7:27 NIV
As he reigns over them forever and ever.
What makes the foregoing all the more astonishing is that this worship of Jesus began among his Jewish followers in Jerusalem, of all places!
“Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how many evil things he has done to YOUR saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on YOUR NAME.’… Immediately he preached in the synagogues that the Christ is the Son of God. All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this he who killed those who called ON THIS NAME IN JERUSALEM, and came here with that intent, to bring them bound to the chief priests?’” Acts 9:13-14, 20-21
This would have been the last place on earth that Christ would have received such worship if he wasn’t God, seeing just how strictly monotheistic the Jews were.
Since our examination has conclusively shown that Christ’s followers worshiped their Lord as God in the flesh, we are now ready to proceed to the final part of our rebuttal.