Jesus The Worshipper

“TRUE worship which pleases God, happens when you give yourself completely to God.”

Nola Pelser

IT IS evident that very little has been written about how Jesus worshiped. There is one single verse where He knelt: “He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.” (Mark 14:35). During the Passover meal, Jesus sang with His disciples the customary Hallel (Ps. 114-118). “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matt. 26:30).

Jesus rejoiced:In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.” (Luke 10:21). The word “rejoiced” used here is: ἀγαλλιάω agalliáō; to leap. “To exult, leap for joy, to show one’s joy by leaping and skipping denoting excessive or ecstatic joy and delight. Hence in the NT to rejoice, exult.” In this context it also means: “my tongue was glad,” which means to rejoice with words and sing aloud. What a beautiful picture, Jesus rejoices in the Father!

What is True Worship?

Jesus was clearly opposed to the kind of worship that is to be seen by people. “But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.” (Matt. 23: 5).

Today, much emphasis is placed on how God should be worshiped. One church competes with the other over whose worship style is the best and attracts the most people. Worship, however, should be God-directed. What is the most acceptable way of worshiping God? Surely Jesus’ life is our standard because He is the perfect example of the incarnation of the will of God.

Jesus shows very clearly that worship is not far removed from the people. Worship is between people, in everyday life, in nature. In the OT it is mentioned that God is not glorified by temple buildings. Rather: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me and where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look. On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isa. 66: 1-2).

Jesus therefore shows us that worship is a permanent way of life and not a place to go. My life, walk and deeds are His sanctuary (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16).

Jan Oosthuizen

Work is Worship

I remember during our visit to Pennsylvania, where the Amish people live and farm, how impressed we were with the neatness, precision and beautiful, healthy corn and wheat fields. We are just as amazed at God’s creation. May mankind also marvel at our creations, creativity, expertise, work fertility and service! Our work is also a sermon!

Jesus chose to dedicate 90% of His life to worshiping and glorifying the Father in a very earthly, ordinary everyday existence, among ordinary people. And He therefore calls upon us to do the same: “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matt. 5:15). Apart from the fact that Jesus had to work hard at this time, He teaches us that He and the Father also work. But Jesus rebuked them, saying, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” (John 5:17).

The idea that work is also worship comes from the Hebrew which comes from the same key word “tend” or “keep”. Gen. 2:15:  “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” abad: create, cultivate, labor, fruitful, and service. Also, to take care = samar: to keep, to preserve, to protect, to be careful, to keep watch.

This command to work was given before the fall and shows that we were created to work and be stewards. The curse of the fall is: ” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” (Gen. 3:17).

Being Fruitful is Worship

It is interesting how much Jesus refers to agriculture and to planting and growing things – Growth is our praise to the Lord. We were created to grow, to be fruitful. We glorify the Lord the most when we live out His purpose of creation!

Jesus Teachings about Fruitfulness:

  • The parable of the sower (Matt. 13: 1-23)
  • The parable of the wheat and the chaff: (Matt. 13: 24-30, 36-43)
  • The parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13: 31-32).
  • Jesus also repeatedly says we must bear fruit like a healthy tree (Matt. 3: 8-10)
  • That no two different types of fruit can grow from one tree (Matt. 7: 16-20)
  • We must go and win souls and gather the harvest; look, the harvest is already white. He curses the fig tree that does not bear fruit. (Matt. 21: 18-20)
  • The Kingdom is like seed that grows and bears fruit. (Mark 4: 26-29)
  • “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24).

Jesus therefore sees worship as being fruitful. The two parables – the multiplication of the Minas (Luke 19: 11-27) and the talents (Matt. 25: 14-30) are about faithfulness and not how well we take care of ourselves. It’s about how good we are with what we’ve already received.

When the Lord created the earth, He said it was good. What do we create that is good? He is glorified by what we create. Some people create division, disorder and contention. As creation testifies of His glory and who God is, so the works of our hands testify.

When we do business the right way, our business becomes a way to empower and encourage people.  A racial group is often referred to as bad, and yet there is a Mercedes Benz factory in Port Elizabeth that meets European standards, by mostly African workers. Kigali is currently considered the cleanest city in Africa. It is not man who is bad or dirty. Our business model either makes people slaves or elevates people. Corruption is not only a sign of bad people, but also proof of a weak system.

The highlight of the garden theme in Jesus’ sermon is: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. ” (John 15:1-10). Jesus is very straightforward here and doesn’t beat about the bush: “Those who love Me will keep My commandments.”

Living right in a wicked world is how we glorify God the most.

Consider Daniel, Nehemiah, and Mordecai and Esther!

A godly lifestyle is how God is most glorified. “To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
” (Prov. 21: 3)

God Seeks our Faith and our Worship

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). The Pentecostal Church is synonymous with applause, raising of hands and expressive praise. Back in the day, they were sometimes referred to as the “Happy Clappies”. The Bible makes direct references to expressive praise: On the contrary, the “reformed” (“gereformeerde”) faith in South-Africa is the only religion where worship is non-expressive. Just think of Buddhism, Islam, and all the Eastern religions, all of which are expressive and include physical movements.

  • Clapping hands – Ps. 47: 2; Isa. 55:12
  • Cheers, cheers, shouts – Ezra 3:11; Ps. 95: 1-2
  • Singing – Ps. 100: 4; Ps. 101: 1; Ps. 105: 2
  • Prostration: Lying on your face – Gen. 17: 3
  • Kneeling and bending down – Ps. 95: 6; Ezra 9: 5; Ef. 3:14
  • Standing – Gen. 18:22
  • Raising of hands – Ps. 63: 5; Ps. 28: 3; 1 Tim. 2: 8; 1 Kon. 8:54
  • Antiphonal singing (Echo or answer the lead singer) – Ps. 107; 136; Neh. 12:31, 40-42

The danger, however, is that these movements can simply become robotic expressions that everyone slavishly may follow. God seeks faith! Without faith it is impossible to please God. So when I clap my hands, there is a purpose, a depth of faith behind it. When praising the Lord in dance, in spite of my sadness and hurt, it is an act of faith! Clapping and worshiping God joyfully when things go wrong is an act of faith! These are not just movements or expressions.

Just as the Trinity is one Deity, so God also wants us to worship spirit, soul and body in unity. My whole being, heart, mind, will, intellect, body are in harmonious unity and surrender before God in my worship.

Unacceptable Worship To God

Gen. 4:4-5: Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.” NLV

Amos 4:4-5“Go ahead and offer sacrifices to the idols at Bethel. Keep on disobeying at Gilgal. Offer sacrifices each morning, and bring your tithes every three days. Present your bread made with yeast as an offering of thanksgiving. Then give your extra voluntary offerings so you can brag about it everywhere! This is the kind of thing you Israelites love to do,” says the Sovereign Lord.” NLV

Amos 5:23:  “Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” NLV

Amos 6:5: “You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David.” NLT

Is. 1:11-15: “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me. As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.” NLT

Is. 5:12: “They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties— lyre and harp, tambourine and flute—but they never think about the Lord or notice what he is doing.” NLT

Is. 29:13:“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” (Matt. 15:9).

Faith In God: The Highest Form of Worship

God accepted Abel’s worship because he believed: “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” (Heb. 11: 4).

Jesus said believe: “Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6: 28-29). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11: 6).

Even two Gentiles, a Roman officer and a Canaanite woman, were praised for their great faith: “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (Matt. 8:10).

From that moment on, the daughter was healed (Matt. 15:28).

It is very clear from the above Scriptures that God is most pleased with our faith! Praise and worship require faith.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” (Gal. 5: 6).

Sincere Love – God Seeks Your Heart

Praise the Lord with your whole being –  the whole person is involved. Love comes from the direction of my heart. A man cannot imitate love for his wife for she sees through his falsehood when he buys her flowers, yet speaks to her harshly or manhandles her. Likewise, God also seeks our sincere, unfeigned, wholehearted love.

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27). It simply implies that you must love the Lord with your mind, your emotions, your body – your everything! Our whole being is present and involved in loving God fully. God is therefore, the focus of our heart. Our everything, our will, our life, our desires, our dreams, our passions, our world of thought are geared to praise and glorify God. No dualism (division into opposing compartments).

Jesus allows the sinner to wash His feet (Luke 7: 36-50) and later, Mary does the same (John 12: 1-11). This spontaneous gesture of love touches the Lord deeply. Both of these women had blown their own reputation, and despite what men were saying, they confessed their faith and love in public! This shameless, intimate act of love surely pleased the Lord! They gave Him their all.

Spontaneous Worship

“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!”
(John 12: 12-19). This contrasts with the form or religion of the celebrations held by the temple leadership at the time. Don’t we appreciate the spontaneous love poem of a child or our spouse, rather than reading something from a piece of paper written by someone else?

Worship In Spirit and Truth (John 4:24)

It means praising Him with sincerity, honesty, unfeigned praise that does not care what the people say. Truth speaks of the authenticity of our focus. We do not pray prayers to be heard by people (Matt. 6: 5-8).

Worship by the Spirit speaks of worship coming from your heart, placed by the Spirit in you to the glory of God. The core of our entire worship is to seek the help of the Holy Spirit as we sing and worship. For no one can truly worship or see God without the Father revealing Himself to us through His Spirit (Matt. 16:17; Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:10; Gal. 1:16).

God Is Spirit and We Know Him By The Spirit

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. ” (1 Cor. 2: 10-11).

We cannot understand God, and reason with our minds. We see, hear, understand through the Spirit. “But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3: 15-18).

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 16:17).

Worship is therefore spiritual, and not just the singing of songs. There is a spiritual connection. “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.  Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? ” (1 Cor. 14: 15-16).

Only people who are spiritual can judge spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:13). Paul also refers directly to the singing of spiritual songs, as opposed to psalms and hymns (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). These spiritual songs have their origin in the spirit, not the human mind and intellect, and are the new song to which the Bible often refers (Ps. 33: 3; 40: 4; 96: 1; 98: 1; 144: 9 ; 149: 1; Isa. 42:10; Rev. 5: 9; 14: 3).

Praise Comes When God is A Reality

When you see, experience or experience God personally, you will praise and glorify Him. No one will have to teach you how to do it. It is a spontaneous response to the reality of His existence in your life. The problem is that many people have grown up over the years in a church where God is praised and praised in only one way without a first-hand experience of who God really is. Because of cultural influences and humanism, worship in the church has become alienated from the precepts and examples the Bible teaches.

The Attitude By Which We Worship

God sees our heart and not our praise expressions. You can dance, jump and rejoice, but God sees the heart with which you do it. It is essential that we raise our hands to the Lord without anger, bitterness, strife and discord (1 Tim. 2: 8). “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt. 5: 23-24).

Leonard Sweet explains that the two beams of the cross, one vertical and the other horizontal, point to our upward worship of God and mutually to our service to one another. The one cannot do without the other. If we focus only on one aspect of our faith, we will later use the beam to hurt others more. This is the paradox of the cross. We worship Him and focus on Him, but then He helps us to focus on each other again and serve one another.

The Spirit of worship is the Spirit of Christ, namely service, submission, esteeming others, being sensitive, sober and unfeigned. Jesus worshiped God with His life among men. This is what makes the dynamics of corporate worship so powerful – we learn to praise and honor the Lord together. The whole family and the whole congregation praise the Lord together. No one stands aside or alienated. God’s kingdom is inclusive, no one is excluded. That’s why we consider each other, also in the choice of songs. Young and old lay down our own tastes and preferences to worship God together. All these co-actions are rooted in the denial of self. This is in stark contrast to praise which can easily degenerate into self-centeredness, self-glorification, human worship, carnality and rivalry, carnal drive and focus on human achievement. Humility, service, unity, humility, obedience are the Spirit of Christ who must reign in our worship.

A Living Sacrifice

” I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12: 1). Through the OT, God expected dead flesh as sacrifices. “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22). The priests may not come into God’s presence while perspiring (Ezek. 44:18) so, it is therefore clear that self-denial is more acceptable to God than worship (Matt. 16:24). Through the sacrifices of animals and goats, man could approach God. Jesus once sacrificed Himself for us so that we can now come boldly (Heb. 9:12; 10:19). Our daily renunciation of self and the taking up of our cross is worship! This is how Jesus glorified the Father – He finally gave His life (Luke 22:42).

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