The Worship of Jesus
December 21st, 1980 @ 8:15 AM
THE WORSHIP OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-21-80 8:15 a.m.
To you who are sharing the hour on radio and to the great host in the sanctuary, this is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering the message entitled The Worship of Jesus.
In the second chapter of Matthew, in the chapter out of which we all read the Scripture together, in the eleventh verse, it speaks of the wise men, the magi, they were Parsee priests:
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 unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The response always of anyone toward God is to dedicate to Him a gift. In the Old Testament, it was called a minchah. Abel brought to God a minchah. What is a minchah? It’s translated almost always "a sacrifice." Abel brought to the Lord a sacrifice, a lamb. Actually, a minchah is a gift. Abel brought to God a minchah, a gift, and offered it to the Lord [Genesis 4:4]. So these wise men, in a natural response, they "fell down before the Child and worshipped Him: opening their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" [Matthew 2:11]. You have a magnificent portrayal of that worship of the Lord Jesus in Hebrews 1:6, "When He bringeth in the firstborn into the world, He saith, And let all the angels worship Him." The worship of Jesus as a child, the wise men bowing down worshipping Him [Matthew 2:11]; and in that passage in Hebrews, "And all the hosts of the angels, when He was born into the world, worshipped Him" [Hebrews 1:6]. Throughout the life of our Lord, worship was accorded Him beautifully, preciously.
In the eighth chapter of Matthew, "Behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou can make me clean" [Matthew 8:2]. I turn the page: "While Jesus spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler and worshipped Him, saying, My daughter is dead; come and lay Thy hand upon her" [Matthew 9:18]. Why not just any hand? His hand; "Come lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live." I turn the pages: in 14:33, when the great storm caught up the little boat on the Sea of Galilee, the Lord calmed the storm, saved Simon Peter out of the drowning waves, "And, when they were come into the ship, they worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God" [Matthew 14:25-33]. In the resurrection of our Lord, in His appearances, the same adoration is presented to us. The women came who first saw Him raised from the dead, and they held Him by the feet and worshipped Him [Matthew 28:9-10]. Then at the appointed mount in Galilee, when above five hundred at once were gathered to celebrate the rising again of our Lord [1 Corinthians 15:6], it says, "And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him" [Matthew 28:16-20]. And when our Lord returned into heaven, after He was taken up in a cloud [Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-10] – not a cloud of mist of water, but the shekinah glory of God, the garments of the Almighty – when He was raised from them and was taken up into heaven, Luke 24:52 says, "And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."
And the worship of our Lord is presented to us as the beautiful liturgy of heaven. In [Revelation 4:10], the four and twenty elders, twelve of the Old Testament representing the Old Testament saints, twelve of the New Testament representing all of us who have been saved by His grace in this dispensation, all of the saints of God fall down and worship Him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power" [Revelation 4:10-11]. In the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, "And the four living ones," representing all creation, the whole creation of God, "And the four living ones," I call them "cherubim" – that’s what Ezekiel called them [Ezekiel 10:1-20] – "And the four cherubim," representing all creation, "said, Amen; and with the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth forever and ever" [Revelation 5:14]: the worship of Jesus.
In reading in the life of Charles Lamb, who with his sister Mary, never marrying, gave themselves to intellectual and literary pursuits; they belonged to the intelligentsia of all England and in London were surrounded by the literary greats of the day such as Coleridge. Upon an occasion when they were together, and they were much together, they began talking one evening, Charles Lamb and that group of literary geniuses in the latter part of the 1700s and the first part of the 1800s, they began to talk about what they would do if the mighty of the earth were to walk into their company that evening. What would they do? And Charles Lamb, who was a student of Shakespeare, wrote the incomparable essays entitled Tales from Shakespeare, Charles Lamb said, "If Shakespeare were to walk into this room, all of us would stand in respect and appreciation, the myriad-minded Shakespeare." Then he added, "But if Jesus the Christ were to walk into this room, all of us would kneel down in reverential worship": worshipping Jesus.
That occasion, the fall of the universe, which is so difficult for us to grasp, how is it that there are burned out stars, and there are waste places on this planet, and there’s another will in the universe besides God’s will, and in the Lord’s beautiful creation, there are sorrow and tears, how did it come to pass? It arose over this: over the worship of the crown Prince of Glory. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, you have the story of the confrontation between Satan and the Lord Jesus [Matthew 4:3-11]. They knew each other from the day of Satan’s creation. His name was Lucifer. And when Satan talks to Jesus in the fourth chapter, you have it translated in the King James Version, "If You are the Son of God, bid these stones be bread." No! It is not a subjunctive; it is an indicative, it is a declaration of truth, of fact: "Since You are the Son of God, bid these stones be bread" [Matthew 4:3]. Then the third one was, "And Satan showed the Lord Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and he said, This will I give You if You will fall down and worship me" [Matthew 4:8-9]. Well, where did that come from? "If You will fall down and worship me." In the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah [Isaiah 14:12-14], and in the twenty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel [Ezekiel 28:1-19], we understand. In some primordial, primeval age, Satan, Lucifer, said in his heart, "I will be God, not the Son of Glory, the Prince of Heaven," later known to us as Jesus our Lord. "I will be God," said Satan [Isaiah 14:14; Ezekiel 28:2]. And one-third of the angels of heaven followed the pride and the sinful uplifting of that archangel who was in charge of all of God’s creation [Revelation 12:4]. And wherever sin is found, it destroys, it wastes; and it destroyed God’s universe, when Satan was envious and his heart was lifted up in pride against the Son, the Prince of Glory, "I will be God" [Isaiah 14:14; Ezekiel 28:2].
One of the usual things that we read in God’s Book is a passage I referred to a moment ago. When the Lord was taken away into heaven, it says, "The disciples worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" [Luke 24:52]. Now we’re going to turn in to another way as we speak of the worship of the Lord Jesus. The worship of the Lord Jesus, not just in the days of His flesh, as a little child, or as the healer, or as the mighty miracle worker who could still the storm and the sea [Luke 8:22-25], but as the Lord Jesus who has ascended into heaven, gone away into another world [Luke 24:30-51; Acts 1:9-10]: worshipping Jesus. Where is He? And in what kind of a world has He entered? And is it real? Or is it fanciful or wistful or maybe even superstitious? Is there reality in that world to which Jesus has entered? Is it actual? This world we know by our five senses to be real; we can see it, it has mass, it has movement, it has substance. There are stars and suns and galaxies; we can see it. We see it with our eyes. We can hear its sounds. We can touch it, we can feel it. We can smell many of the things of this world. And with our sense of taste, we can taste many of the things God’s created in this world. This one is real; we know it, feel it, see it, touch it. But the world into which Jesus has entered, is that real? Is it actual? Is Jesus actually alive, and does He live in that upper and unseen world? Is He there? Does He see? Does He hear? Does He know? And is the world real, the world beyond this world? Now the message this morning concerns the reality of that world into which Jesus has entered and His relationship with us. And the avowal of the message is that just as we know this world by our five physical senses, we also can know the unseen world where Jesus is by the five senses of the soul.
First: the eyes of the soul can see that world and see the Lord Jesus. In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is one of the finest statements in the Bible: "Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" [Hebrews 11:27]. Do you ever think about some of the things that are so diametrically opposite stated in the Bible? For example, "We shall have a spiritual body" [1 Corinthians 15:44]. My brother, "body" and "spirit" are antithetical. How could you have a spiritual body? Yet the Book says we shall have a spiritual body. Jesus could go through a door closed [John 20:19]. He could suddenly appear and then disappear [Luke 24:31, 36]. We shall be like Him, a spiritual body. This is another one: "Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" [Hebrews 11:27]; there is a world of reality that is seen only by the eyes of the soul. It’s a real world, though it’s unseen by our naked physical eyes. It is as real as this world. Look. Around that central sun, ninety-two million miles away, swings in orbit this Earth, around and around. We call it a year when it goes around one time; when it starts there and by the time it comes back, we call that a year. The earth swings around that central sun. When the earth in its movement swings around that central sun, when it comes there, why doesn’t it go out into space? Because there is an unseen hand that reaches out there and pulls it back. And when it comes over here, why doesn’t it fling itself into space when it gets over here? There’s an unseen hand that reaches out and pulls it back. And the earth stays in that magnificent orbit around the sun. Astronomers have mathematically reckoned that the power of that force that holds that earth in that orbit around the sun is as though it were a solid steel beam three thousand miles in diameter; the force from the sun that holds that earth in its orbit is as though it were held by a beam of iron three thousand miles thick. Yet a bird can fly through it, and I can put my hand through it and am doing it now. The unseen world, you only see it with the eyes of the soul; but it’s no less real.
In our traveling around on this planet, every day we travel more than a million miles, every day. I don’t sense it at all, do you? Every day we travel more than a million miles, riding this planet. I don’t see it. And every day a thousand miles an hour we’re turning over. I don’t sense it at all. There’s a world of reality beyond what my physical eye can see. And into that world, Jesus has entered. And we see Him with the eyes of the soul.
The second sense of the soul, the hearing of the soul, the ears of the soul: we can hear God, and we can hear the voice of the Lord. All seven churches, the messages of Christ to them is this: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" [Revelation 2:1- 3:22]
"Pastor, surely that is fanciful, that God’s voice can be heard by the soul!" My brother, there’s an unseen world that is as real as this world. This air around me is filled with music, it is filled with words, it is filled with drama, it is filled with sports, it is filled with political commentaries, it is filled with all kinds of things for my ears to hear. And if somebody who had never seen a radio or heard a radio, if somebody were to hear me say that they would say, "The pastor has lost his equilibrium, he has lost his sanity." When I say the whole world around me is filled with music and words, all I need to do is just to be in tune. If I have a little instrument that is in tune, I can hear the music, and I can hear the words. It’s real, right here. It’s an unseen world, but no less real. So it is in the ears and the hearing of the soul.
Isaiah 55:3, "Hear, and your soul shall live." Hear what? Listen to the voice of God, for God speaks; and when our souls are attuned, He will speak to us, and we can hear His voice. Sweet people, there’s hardly a Lord’s Day ever passes but down that aisle will come even a child and will say to me, "I have heard the voice of the Lord." And I say, "You feel, you hear Jesus calling you in your heart?" And the child will respond, "Yes, I feel Jesus speaking to me in my heart," with ears of the soul. And how many of us have said, "I have heard the call of God"? I have. Heard it as a boy, answered it with my life, God spoke to me. God called me. How do you mean that, pastor? I mean the soul has ears to hear the voice of God, and God speaks. And to the heart that is attuned, you can hear the Lord speak to you. It’s a real world, as real as this one.
The sense of touch: the soul can respond to the touch of God. Not only in the days of His flesh is it written, "And Jesus reached forth His hand and touched him" [Luke 5:13]; but resurrected and glorified and in heaven: John wrote in the first chapter of his Apocalypse, he said:
I turned to see the voice that spake unto me. And being turned I saw a seven-branched lampstand, the menorah, and in the midst of the menorah, I saw One like unto the Son of God . . . His face was as the sun shining in its strength, and I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me; He touched me, and said, Fear not, I am He that liveth and was dead; behold I am alive forevermore, Amen; and I have the keys of Hell and of Death.
"He touched me." There’s a song these modern kids sing that I love: "Somebody touched me, it must have been the hand of the Lord!" I know that. There is a sensitivity of the heart and of the soul that is incomparably precious.
Last Sunday morning, down this aisle came the wife of one of the fine doctors in our church; he’s professor in our Southwestern Medical College here in Dallas. And she said, "The Lord has touched me. God has spoken to me." That’s glorious! And to a sensitive soul, you can feel the hand of the Lord upon you. It’s as real as if I touched you with my physical hand.
The sense of smell: in the Old Testament, the sense of smell was used often in the worship of God. In our worship of the Lord, I hardly know of any instance where the sense of smell is used; but in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, there is an imagery that goes with the olfactory sense that is precious beyond any way I could describe it. Listen to the Word of the Lord: in Revelation 5:8, "And when He, the Lamb of God, 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 full of odors," the Greek word is thumiama; thumiama is incense, thumiaterion is a censer burning incense, "Golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." Now let me read again. In the eighth chapter of the Revelation:
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden miaterion [ libanōton], a golden censer; and there was given unto him much miama [thumiamata], incense, that he should offer it, 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.
I just can’t conceive of an imagery so beautifully meaningful as that.
In the tabernacle and temple, as you know, before the veil was the golden altar of incense [Exodus 40:5]; and it was a part of the liturgical worship of God, the rising smoke of the beautiful savor, representing the prayers of God’s people. And, in the Revelation, it says that the prayers of God’s people are offered to Him, everlastingly, on that golden altar of miatarion [thumiamata]. The prayers of God’s people ascend before the throne of grace, and they’re never lost; they are kept, and in the remembrance of God they ascend before Him night and day [Revelation 8:3-4].
I think about that, the prayers of God’s people, never lost, but ever present before God in His glory. Did anyone ever pray for you? That prayer is still in the remembrance of God, like incense rising upward. I don’t know that I was ever more moved in my life than in a service in which a young man came forward and somehow the preacher let the young fellow give his testimony there. It was briefly this: his mother had died when he was a little boy, and his mother talked to the lad, saying that she was going away, that she was going to heaven and she was going to wait for her boy in heaven; and she wanted the little lad to be a Christian, and to love Jesus, and to meet her in heaven. Well, in his after years he drifted away, and in, apparently, into the depths of sin, wrong, world. But that day, he was coming back to God, accepting Jesus as His Savior. And did you know, in the midst of his testimony, he just stopped talking to us, he just stopped, and lifting his face to heaven, he said, "Oh Mother, oh Mother, God has answered your prayers, and I have come to Jesus. Mother, I have come back, I have come home." Do you believe that? I often think, "My mother’s in heaven, she is not here, she is there; but all her prayers, of precious mother, that God is answering today." They are ever before the Lord, the prayers of His people; they’re never lost. You may die not seeing your prayers answered, but someday they will. They ever ascend like incense in the presence of Jesus.
I repeat: I do not know of a more beautiful or precious assurance than the thought that prayers in my behalf are ever before God’s throne of grace, like incense rising before God, the upper and unseen world [Revelation 8:3-4].
And this fifth sense, the sense of taste: David writes, in the thirty-fourth Psalm:
O magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me . . . We looked to Him, and were radiant: and our faces were not ashamed . . . O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. O taste and see that the Lord is good.
It is not metaphysical, speculative, philosophical; it is something practical and real – the unseen world – and our Lord, who is attuned to our every cry and need, the invitation, "Come and see, taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8]. Isn’t it a remarkable thing? Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God in the language and imagery of a banquet, a great banquet. "And to you who are hungry, come and dine" [Matthew 22:1-14]. Manna and to spare, angel’s food [Psalm 78:25]. "To you who are thirsty, come and drink" [Revelation 22:17]. O taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8].
Better than any life beyond is the life here. How many times do I find, especially young people, thinking, "If I give my heart to Jesus, I’ll miss the fun"? Young man, young woman, it’s just the opposite. That’s not fun, that’s not pleasure, that’s not joy, that’s not happiness; this is: loving God, serving the Lord in your own personal life, in your work, in your family, in your house, in your home, in every dream and aspiration of your soul. "O taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8]. Come, come, come.
May we stand together?
Wonderful, wonderful Savior, what a beautiful thing has Jesus done for us, opening the door into heaven itself, through which door we can see the glories of Jesus and all the precious things He has reserved in store for those who love Him. Open our eyes that we may see, open our ears that we may hear, touch our souls that we may respond, O Jesus, that there might be everything abounding, abundant, in the life You offer to us – blessed Lord we accept and worship and adore.
And while our people remain standing, just for the moment, on the first note of this song, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, "Today, pastor, I have heard the voice of God in my heart, and I’m coming." A family, a couple, or just one somebody you, make it now. And thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest. In Thy precious name, amen; while we sing our song.