Why Do Christians Worship Jesus? Because He is the Creator God as well as Redeemer. In previous posts I have shared, in my limited way, my growing admiration for the Person of Jesus – Who He is – as Charles Wesley proclaimed in the hymn, “How can it be that Thou my God should die for me.”
Jesus is the central figure of Scripture and history is really ‘His Story’. For those who accept Him as Lord and Saviour His story becomes personal. What he did 2000 years ago was for us, including me. So, some more of my thoughts on Jesus, this time from the Book of Hebrews.
Reading the ‘Letter to the Hebrews’ we get impressions of a crisis in the life of the Jewish converts to Christianity. In Hebrews 10: 32-39, we pick up more than a few hints of some of the problems the Hebrews faced. In chapter 10:32-39 the author writes about those earlier days when his readers stood their ground in the face of conflict and suffering. In verse 39, in the New International Version: “the author says, “we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
They had stood side by side with those who had been imprisoned for the gospel’s sake. Some had even experienced confiscation of their properties because they believed they had a better future to come because of their belief and trust in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ. But Hebrews 5:11-14 tells us they had not grown or matured in their faith. They were still on the milk of the word. Some of the church had begun to drift away and so in verse 25 the author exhorts and encourages his readers not to give up meeting together as some are doing.
So one can see why the author opens up the book in drawing attention to the Person of Jesus, in a similar way that John does in his gospel, John 1:1-3, 14, 18: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” 14 “”The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[a] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” In Luke 1:35, we read that Jesus is unique, He is son of Mary, but also the Son of God.
The author uses superlatives throughout the book to describe Jesus and his heavenly ministry. Jesus is so superior to all who have gone before Him. He is superior to the prophets whom God chose to speak to the Hebrews of the past; He is superior to the angels, angels worship Him (1:6).
The Triune God has spoken through the Incarnate Son (1:2) who, according chapter 1:3, is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” That is where the apostle begins the Book of Hebrews, and towards the conclusion in chapter 13:8 he describes the eternity of Jesus as, “the same today, yesterday and forever.”
The readers are encouraged not to forget the superiority of the Person of Jesus over everything and everyone else, and that Jesus’ ministry is so superior to anything to which they might return. The earthly priesthood and earthly sacrifices no longer had any significance – Jesus has fulfilled their intention so their purpose had ceased and the Temple ministry became obsolete at the cross (Matthew 27: 50 “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.”
But one can see the attractiveness of the ritual of the temple services, and the distraction of continuing persecution from family and friends as well as enemies, because of their conversion to the Christian faith. So in this letter to the Jewish converts to Christianity, the author reminds his readers of Who they have come to know and believe in – He is Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest.
The author pulls out all the stops to show that Jesus has no rivals. He is the Incomparable Christ. Although voluntarily subordinate to the Father for His earthly mission for humankind, Even in His humanity, the author asks, in verse 5, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son” 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
It is difficult to read this section of Scripture without seeing the writer telling us that Jesus is not just like God in every way, but is God in every way. We read that Jesus has all the nature and attributes of deity. Towards the end of the letter in Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” And in this introduction it says everything that is in the universe originated through Him, “he made the universe.” “He sustains all things.” He provides purification for our sins. And, being the exact representation of God, He sits at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
Key words that we find in this letter are the words “better“, or “superior.” The author elevates Jesus above all of creation, we see him giving sheer praise to Jesus, and we find him asking his readers to do the same. He is saying, look how great this Person is!
God’s angels are wonderful beings. In 1:7 he tells us that angels are “spirits” or “winds”. How powerful can the wind be? The wind is a mighty force of nature to be reckoned with. In the same verse the author also likens angels to “flames of fire”. The horrific happenings in our time show us the power of both wind and fire.
Combine the elements of winds and fire, and we have a description of the kind of energy that angels have. Isaiah 37:36 tells us that one of God’s angel destroyed 186,000 of the Assyrian army in one night! Like wind and fire, angels are great forces to be reckoned with.
When a centurion and his armed guard were appointed to make sure Jesus stayed in the tomb after his burial Matthew 28 tells us that an angel of the Lord came down to remove the stone from the tomb. Then verse 4 says, “The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became as dead men.”
But we find that same angel engaging some women in conversation – without them feeling the slightest threat from his presence! (Matthew 28:1-7).
The guards were so fearful we are told that they fell as dead men. But the women showed no fear. There was nothing about the angel for which to be afraid! As Hebrews 1:14 tells us, “Are not all the angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
But the focus of the ‘Letter to the Hebrews’ is not angels. The focus is Jesus. If we were to look at Colossians 1:15, and 16, we would read there that Jesus, “Is the image of God, the first-born of all creation; for in Him all things were created, in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him.”
Angels are powerful beings. The Bible tells us we will see their power when Christ comes in all His glory, and with all His holy angels to raise the dead in Christ on resurrection day (Matthew 24:30,31).
But as great as these angels are, the author of Hebrews says Christ is so much greater than the angels! Matthew 24: 31 says he will send ‘his’ angels. Jesus created the angels! “All things were created by him and for him“! To prove his point the writer to the Hebrews then draws on some Old Testament Scriptures. He leaves his readers in no doubt about who Jesus is. The rest of what He has to say in this book depends on the foundation he lays in this chapter.
In Hebrews 1:4 Jesus “has obtained a more excellent name than the angels.” To impress his Jewish Christian readers, in verse 5 we see him combining two Old Testament passages. The first is from Psalm 2:7: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” The second Old Testament Scripture comes from 2 Samuel 7:14, which has a primary application to Solomon, but which the writer sees as having a secondary application to Jesus: “I will be to him a father, and he will be to me a Son.” Again, this phrase implies the idea of “begotten”. We see what the author is saying in the beginning of verse 5. “To which of the angels did God ever say that?” And of course, the answer is, none! In fact, verse 6 says, “Let all God’s angels worship Him.”
Harking back to my previous post, I do find it difficult to understand fellow Christians who say the Old Testament is now obsolete. The Old Testament was the Bible of the Early Christian church and Jesus said in John 5:39, 40 that those Old Testament Scriptures were all about him and his provision for eternal life.
What we find in the Scriptures we sing in that wonderful hymn of praise by Edward Perronet, “All hail the power of Jesus name, let angels prostrate fall . . .” or, as Hebrews 1:6 expresses it, “Let all God’s angel’s worship him.”
Now there are many Bible believers who find the teaching on the Trinity and the Deity of Christ very difficult to accept. There are Adventists who want us to go back to the teachings of the founders of the Adventist movement. Many of the Adventist pioneers came from Unitarian churches and so were anti-Trinitarian in their teachings. The Trinity doctrine was something that evolved as the church grew and found itself being challenged by the teaching of the Trinity. You could say that the Adventist church had to go through its own ‘Council of Nicea’ but there are still those within the church who protest at its Trinitarian teaching.
The writer of Hebrews does say Jesus was born into this world as a man. He even describes Jesus as the “first-born,” and one who is “begotten.” The writer does go on to explain about the human nature of Jesus in chapter 2. But in this chapter, it is difficult not to see that for the writer, Jesus is very God!
This chapter refers to Jesus as the originator of all things. It says, “he made the universe.” It says He sustains the universe. It says He provides purification for our sins, and that being the exact representation of God He sits at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Jesus has all the attributes of deity and is deserving of our worship! However great other beings are, ‘even the angels worship Him!’ And that is the First Angels’ Message of Revelation 14:6,7. It is the call to “worship him who made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters.” That final scenario is described for us in Revelation 5:11-14.
The Bible tells us that Jesus made the heavens and the earth. Colossians 1:16 says, “For in Him all things were created in heaven and earth.” In John 1:10 it says, “He was in the world and the world was made through him.” How can I make these statements to say other than what they say? Jesus made the heavens and the earth, and so we are called to worship Him.
The Gospel is not just about the redemption of lost mankind, or of salvation to all those who choose to believe in Him. It is about that. But it is also about the restoration of God’s authority in this world. And that authority begins with the believer’s confession, that “Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11).
For the author of the Letter to the Hebrews the greatness of Jesus excited awe and reverence. Jesus is Someone to be adored! He is Someone to be praised and worshipped in every aspect of our lives. Jesus is both Creator and Redeemer!
The very thought produces gratitude in the believer’s heart – for who He is and what He has done for us. And the thrill is, that we are invited into His presence where angels desire to worship Him!
The Bible tells us that it is should be the natural desire for God’s creation to always want to worship Him, on earth now, and in the sin-free eternity to come (Revelation 5:11-14).