The Worship of Jesus
December 21st, 1980 @ 10:50 AM
THE WORSHIP OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-21-80 10:50 a.m.
The Worship of Jesus. Further along in the passage that you just read in the second chapter of Matthew, the wise men, the magi – they were Parsi priests, they were Zoroastrians [Matthew 2:1-2].
"They came to Bethlehem and into the house where the young Child lay, and they fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" [Matthew 2:11]. This is the normal response of anyone of us when we come into the presence of the Lord, to bring a gift in our hands.
In the Old Testament, Abel brought a minchah to the Lord, a lamb for sacrifice. You have it translated in the Bible, "He brought a sacrifice to the Lord" [Genesis 4:2, 4]. The word is minchah, and minchah is usually translated "sacrifice," but it actually means "gift." Abel brought a gift to the Lord, a minchah, a sacrifice [Genesis 4:4]. So these kings from the Orient, they fell down and worshipped the Child, giving Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh [Matthew 2:11].
It is an unusual passage out of the Old Testament that the author of Hebrews quotes in Hebrews 1:6: when the first begotten, our Lord Jesus came into the world, God said, "And let all the angels of God worship Him" [Hebrews 1:6]. The great heavenly hosts that inhabit the ramparts of glory when Jesus was born, not only did the wise men [Matthew 2:1, 11], not only did the shepherds [Luke 2:8-12, 15-16], but all heaven bowed in adoration before the Child [Luke 2:13-14]. Not only in the beginning of His life did they worship Him, but throughout His ministry, His healing, preaching, mediation of God’s love to the people, was accompanied by the personal adoration and worship they accorded our Savior.
In the eighth chapter of Matthew, "Behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, You can make me clean" [Matthew 8:2]. I turn the page. In the ninth chapter in the eighteenth verse, "While He was speaking there came a ruler, and worshipped Him, saying, My daughter is dead: come and lay Thy hand upon her" [Matthew 9:18]. Why not just anyone’s hand? No, our Lord’s hand, "Come and lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live." And he made the request as he worshipped the Lord Jesus.
I turn the pages, and in the fourteenth chapter of the First Gospel, in the storm at sea, by His command the wind is stilled. And in verse 33 and when they that were in the ship saw what Jesus had done by fiat, just by word of command, "They worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God" [Matthew 14:33]. And not only in His ministry did they worship Him, but having been raised from the dead, resurrected [Matthew 28:5-7], in Matthew 28:9, the women who first saw Him alive, they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him. And upon the appointed mountain in Galilee there were five hundred gathered, and in verse 17, "And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him" [1 Corinthians 15:6; Matthew 28:16-17].
And not only in His resurrected life did they worship Him, but also in His going away into heaven. A cloud received Him out of their sight [Acts 1:9-10]. That’s not a cloud of mist, of water. That’s the shekinah glory of God. It’s the garments of the Almighty. As He went up into heaven in the chariot of God’s light and glory, going away, "They worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" [Luke 24:52].
But not only as a babe, and not only in His ministry, and not only in His resurrection body, and not only in His appearance before the throne in heaven did they worship Him, but the tremendous employment of the saints and of the angels and of the cherubim throughout eternity is the worship of Jesus. In Revelation 4:10:
The four and twenty elders fell down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and they cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure . . . they were created.
[Revelation 4:10, 11]
The four and twenty elders, twelve of them representing the saints of the Old Testament, twelve of them representing the saints of the New Testament; all of God’s saints bowing down to worship Him who liveth and reigneth forever and ever [Revelation 4:10].
And I turn to the next chapter, chapter 5 of the Apocalypse, the last verse, "And the four living ones" – I call them cherubim; that’s what Ezekiel called them – "the four zoa, the four living ones" – they represent all of God’s creation – "they said, Amen! And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever" [Revelation 5:14] – the worship of Jesus.
Charles Lamb was one of the great literary lights of England in the latter part of the 1700s and the first part of the 1800s. His sister Mary was as gifted as he was. They gave their lives to literary pursuits, and in London they had a brilliant group of literary geniuses, like Coleridge. They met often. One evening in their gathering together they began to talk about what they would do if – and they named them – some of the great of the classical ages of the past were to come into the room.
Charles Lamb was a lifelong student of Shakespeare. His essays entitled "The Tales of Shakespeare" are some of the most beautiful and brilliant ever written. Charles Lamb said in that conversation, "If Shakespeare were to enter the room, we all would stand in admiration and respect. But if Jesus the Christ were to enter this room, we all would bow and kneel in adoration and worship" – the worship of Jesus.
It’s a strange thing that this should have been the crux of the destruction of the universe, the worship of Jesus. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew in the temptations of our Lord, the King James Version translates it like this, "And Satan said to Jesus, If You are the Son of God, command these stones to be bread" [Matthew 4:3].
They knew each other from the beginning, from the day that Lucifer, Satan, was created. It’s an indicative, and a tremendously impressive one. It is not a subjunctive, "If You are the Son of God." What Satan said, what Lucifer said, to the Lord was, "Since you are the Son of God, command these stones to be bread" [Matthew 4:3]. And the last temptation, "And Satan showed the Lord the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them: And said, All this will I give You, if You will bow down and worship me" [Matthew 4:8, 9].
That had been the aspiration of pride on the part of Lucifer in the beginning. Out of jealously and envy of the crown Prince of glory, he said, "I will be God" [Isaiah 14:13-14], and one-third of the angels fell away with Lucifer [Revelation 12:4], son of light [2 Corinthians 11:14] and the glory of the morning [Isaiah 14:12]. Out of pride and envy and jealously, Satan, Lucifer, lifted himself up against the Crown Prince of heaven, the Son of God. And this meeting in the fourth chapter of Matthew is just one of the eternal confrontations between Lucifer and Jesus the Christ [Matthew 4:1-11].
We are going to turn now and look at the worship of Jesus in another way. In the fifty-second verse of the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke, after the Lord had returned into heaven into the unseen world [Luke 24:51], it says, "And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" [Luke 24:52]. Our Lord entered into another world, a spiritual world, an unseen world. But is it actual, and is He actual? Is it factual, and is He factual? Or is it fanciful and wishful and even superstitious that there should be another world, an unseen world? Does it really exist? And is Jesus really there? And do we worship Him in truth, gone away into heaven?
I know, we do, the actuality of this world, by the five senses. I can see it. It’s all around me. Mass, matter, movement, the earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies, I can see it. I can hear it. There are all kinds of things I can hear in the world. I can touch it. I can feel it. It’s an actual reality. There are large areas of the world that I can smell: the flowers, the sweet gentle breezes of a springtime. And I can taste some of it. I know the reality of this world by my five senses.
How do I know that there is another world, an unseen world, into which Jesus has entered? And how can I know that it is real, that it is genuine, that it is factual? How can I know it’s not also fanciful or wishful or even, as I say, a part of superstition in us?
I know the reality of the other world, the spiritual world, by the five senses of my heart and of my soul. As I have five senses by which I know the reality of this world, God also hath given us five senses of the soul that we can know the reality of Jesus and that upper and unseen world.
The sense of seeing. There is a magnificent verse in Hebrews 11 describing Moses, "He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" [Hebrews 11:27]. Those are contradictory terms, "to see the invisible." But the Bible is full of those terms: a spiritual body we shall have [1 Corinthians 15:44]. They are contradictory. Body and spirit are antithetical, yet we are to have a spiritual body.
So with the saints of God, of which Moses is one of the heroes of the faith, "He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" [Hebrews 11:27], that is, he saw Him with the eyes of the soul, with the eyes of faith.
There is another world just as real as this world, though it is invisible. Look just for a moment. Around the central sun, this planet swings 92,000,000 miles this way, and then an unseen hand reaches and pulls it back, and 92,000,000 miles that way, and an unseen hand reaches and pulls it back. And so in one year, 365 days starting here, that planet Earth will go all the way around the sun, held in its orbit by an invisible hand. The mathematically intuitive genius of those astronomers have written down – those men say that the strength of that hand that reaches out to hold that planet Earth in its place has the force of a solid steel bar 3,000 miles in diameter. As the planet Earth swings around that sun, the hand that holds it in place has the strength of a steel beam 3,000 miles thick, yet a bird can fly through it, and I can wave my hand through it.
There’s another world. There’s an unseen world, but it’s no less real. Every day of our lives, riding this planet Earth, we travel more than a million miles every day. I’m not aware of it. I don’t see it. Every day, we travel a thousand miles an hour and are revolving around this earth. I don’t sense it. I don’t feel it.
There’s another world, and into that invisible world, as real as this one, our Savior has gone, and the eyes of the soul can see Him, hearing, the sense of hearing. The ears of the soul can hear His voice. He speaks, and our hearts, listening, hear what Jesus says. To each one of the seven churches of the Apocalypse He closed His message, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" [Revelation 2:7, 11, 29, 3:6, 13, 22]. There’s another world, an unseen world, and the ear of the soul can hear the voice of God in that unseen world.
Suppose I was talking to someone who’d never seen a radio or never heard a radio or television and I were to say to him, "Did you know the air is filled with music, all kinds of drama, all kinds of words, all kind of sports? The air is filled with it." If he had never seen or heard a radio, he would think me to be unbalanced, I had lost my mind. No. We just need to be in tune, and if I have a little instrument to pick it up – beautiful music, beautiful sermons, magnificent words. Thus it is with our Lord. If my heart is attuned, and my soul’s hearing is open God-ward, I can hear the voice of the Lord. He speaks.
This morning at the early service a little child came and said to me, "Jesus has spoken to me. I hear His voice in my heart calling me." I said to the little child, "I know all about that. I heard the voice of God when I was a child in my heart, and I heard the voice of God calling me when I was a boy, setting me aside to the gospel ministry." It’s as real to me after fifty-three years as it was when I first began my pastoral ministry. God speaks, and to those who have ears of the soul and of faith, you can hear His voice. There’s a plan and a program for every life, and the Lord speaks to us, "This is the way, walk ye in it" [Isaiah 30:21] – the sense of hearing.
The sense of touch; in the days of His flesh the Book says, "And the Lord reached forth His hand, and touched Him" [Matthew 8:3]. But no less so with our Lord in glory; the apostle John begins the Revelation:
I turned to hear the voice that spake unto me. And being turned, I saw a seven-branched, golden lampstand, a menorah;
And in the midst of the menorah, I saw one like unto the Son of God.
His countenance was as the sun shining in his strength.
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.
[Revelation 1:12, 13, 16, 17]
The glorious, resurrected, living Lord Jesus!
Now, how does the story continue?
And He reached forth His right hand and laid it upon me, saying, Fear not:
I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore. and I – I have the keys of Hell and of Death.
[Revelation 1:17, 18]
"And He touched me. He laid His right hand upon me" [Revelation 1:17]. I love that song that our young people sing once in a while,
Somebody touched me.
It must have been the hand of the Lord.
Somebody touched me.
Last Sunday at this hour there came forward the wife of one of the beloved physicians in our church. He is a professor out at Southwestern Medical College. And she said, "God has touched my heart. In a new and a living way, I have been moved by the presence of Jesus." It’s as real as my touching this pulpit desk, the hand of the Lord touching the life and the soul.
There is a part of the liturgy of the Old Testament and of heaven that is never a part of our service of worship, but it is beautiful, and the imagery of it is precious beyond description: the sense of smell. In the fifth chapter of the Revelation, when the Lamb, when Jesus, had taken the book: "The four cherubim and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them golden vials of odors" [Revelation 5:8]. The Greek is thumiama, incense. Thumiaterion is an incense burner. It’s a censer in which incense is burned before the Lord. Each one of them had a golden vial full of incense, "which are the prayers of the saints" [Revelation 5:8].
When I turn the page to the eighth chapter of the Revelation, "Another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden thumiaterion, a censer; and there was given to him much thumiama, incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand" [Revelation 8:3-4].
In the tabernacle and in the temple, just in front of the veil, before the Holy of Holies, before the ark of the covenant, there was a golden altar on which the incense was burned [Exodus 40:26-27], representing the prayers of the people coming up before God [Revelation 8:3]. And the imagery in the Revelation is this, that no prayer ever offered before God is ever lost; but as the incense rises before the throne, so the remembrance of the prayers of God’s people are ever before the Lord. And what a marvelous thing that means to us, that the prayers of those who’ve interceded for us are never lost. They’re always in remembrance before God.
One of the most moving of all of the moments I ever experienced in my life was in a service at which a young man came forward to confess his faith in the Lord Jesus. And somehow – it’s been so long, I can’t remember the occasion of how it turned – but somehow, the young man was invited by the pastor to tell the people of his conversion, that he was saved. And the young fellow stood up – the young man stood up and said something like this. He said, "When I was a little boy, my mother died. And my mother," he said, "was a godly woman. And when she died, she had me to come to the bed and put her arms around me and talk to me and said, ‘Son, I want to meet you in heaven some day. Son, give your heart and your life to Jesus and some day meet me in heaven.’"
Then the young fellow, as though he forgot about us, as though we had just slipped out of his sight, in the middle of that testimony he raised his face and his arms to heaven and he said, "O Mother, O Mother, God has answered your prayers. Mother, I’ve been saved. Mother, I’ve come home. Mother, I’ll see you in heaven some day." For the years, I’ve thought of that young man. The mother had died years and years before, but her prayers were ever before God in heaven. Our intercessions are never lost.
I often think of my mother and the prayers she offered for me. Is God answering them still? Yes. Yes. And the prayers of these who have loved you are still in the presence of God, a sweet fragrance, a savor of intercession, a beautiful and holy remembrance, as real as this life itself.
And last: the sense of touch, the sense of touch; the sense of taste. In the thirty-fourth chapter of the Psalms, David says:
O magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me . . .
They looked unto Him, and were radiant: and they were not ashamed.
O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.
[Psalm 34:3-5, 8]
That other world, this fifth sense, "O taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8]. Not speculative, not metaphysical, but pragmatic and empirical, "Try it and see."
It’s a strange thing sometimes when I’m reading in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus will liken the kingdom of God to a great banquet, a tremendous feast, and we’re invited to share it with the Lord. Are you hungry? There’s manna, angel’s food [John 6:58]. Are you thirsty? There’s the water of life [John 7:37-38; Revelation 21:6]. "O taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8].
Sometimes I marvel at young people. They think, "If I give my heart to the Lord, I’ll miss all the fun. I’ll be a recluse, a monk." It is the opposite. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly" [John 10:10].
Do you want your heart blessed? "Taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8]. Try Him. Do you want your family blessed? You want your work blessed? You want every dream and vision of your soul blessed? Give it to God. These are as real, the blessings of our Lord, as any of the materialities that we know in this physical world. Come, and welcome. May we stand?
Our wonderful, wonderful Savior, when the wise men came, they saw Thee as a babe [Matthew 2:1, 11]. When the leper came, he worshipped Thee as a prophet [Luke 17:15-16]. When the disciples knelt at Thy feet, they wondered at Thy miracle-working power. Raised from the dead, they clasped Thy feet in adoration and wonder. In heaven the employment of the angels now and the saints forever; but O God, no less real to us who are in this earthly pilgrimage and who live in this mundane world.
Jesus is real. Heaven is real, and for us who have eyes of faith, we can see Thee; who have ears of the soul, we can hear Thee; who have sensitivity to God’s presence, we can feel Thee. And how beautifully precious, the Lord invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good [Psalm 34:8]. And our wonderful Savior, bless these who come forward this morning.
Down that stairway if you’re in the balcony, down one of these aisles on this lower floor, "Pastor, the voice of the Lord is in my heart. I hear Him calling, and I’m answering with my life," a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you. And thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest; in Thy precious name, amen.
While we wait, while we pray, while we sing our song, down that stairway, down one of these aisles, our deacons, our ministers are here to welcome you. May angels attend you while you come, as we sing.
THE WORSHIP OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. To bring a gift is a normal response when we come into His presence
1. The wise men (Matthew 2:11)
2. Abel brought a gift (Genesis 4:4)
B. Accorded Him throughout His life
2. In His ministry (Matthew 8:2, 9:18, 14:33)
3. Upon His resurrection (Matthew 28:9, 17)
4. In His ascension (Luke 24:52)
5. Throughout eternity (Revelation 4:10-11, 5:14)
C. The cause of the fall of the universe (Matthew 4:3, 8-9, Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:11-18)
II. Is the spiritual world Jesus entered a real world? (Luke 24:52)
A. We know this material world by the five senses
B. We know the reality of the spiritual world by the five senses of the soul
1. Seeing with eyes of the soul (Hebrews 11:27-28)
2. Hearing with ears of the soul (Revelation 2:7, Isaiah 30:21, 55:3)
3. The touch of the hand of the Lord (Matthew 8:3, Revelation 1:12-18)
4. Smell of incense, the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4)
5. Taste and see (Psalm 34:3-5, 8)