Jesus Allowed Himself to Be Worshiped

by Robert G. Witty

#/Editor’s note: In his book, The Bible: Fact or Fiction?, Dr. Witty proposes a series of tests by which a doubter who is willing to set aside his biases, and judge the Bible as he would judge other books, can be convinced it is the Word of God. In this installment the author points out that Jesus accepted worship as God./# How Jesus responded to those who believed He was God is an inescapable test of the integrity of His character. Consider these examples, which give indisputable evidence that He accepted worship as Deity, showing it to be the correct and rightful human response: • Jesus’ response to Simon Peter. Jesus deliberately asked His disciples to affirm verbally their opinion of His identity (Matt. 16:13-17). How did Jesus respond? Jesus not only accepted the affirmation as correct but blessed Peter for his statement. If Jesus did not believe that Peter’s affirmation was correct, then Jesus’ response encouraged Peter in a blasphemy. • Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman (John 4:25,26). The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming....” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” Jesus’ response to the woman, combined with the later Samaritan affirmation that he, Jesus, was the Savior of the world (v. 42), compels the conclusion that Jesus consciously and deliberately accepted their affirmation of him as the divine Savior. • Jesus’ response to the man born blind (John 9:35-38). John’s Gospel declares that Jesus accepted worship from the man to whom He had restored his sight. Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you. Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” In this conversation Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man, a title signifying Messiahship. And Jesus accepted his unhesitating faith-filled worship. The Greek word proskuneo, used here, is the same word found in Matthew 4:10, where Jesus declares, “Worship [proskuneo] the Lord your God, and serve him only.” And Jesus accepted this man’s believing worship. • Jesus’ response to the high priest in Mark 14:61,62: The high priest asked Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest immediately declared that Jesus’ statement was blasphemy—which it would have been if Jesus was only a man. Jesus’ reply can be understood only as a claim of Deity, though He knew that His claim meant His death. • Jesus’ response to Thomas (John 20:27,28):”Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side,” Jesus challenged the doubting Thomas. Thomas responded, “My Lord and my God.” And Jesus accepted from His apostle the adoration and worship that belongs only to God. These claims and responses require a reasonable decision from three alternatives: 1. Jesus knew that he was actually the Son of the living God and His Deity merits human worship; 2. He honestly believed that He was the Son of God but He was deluded and deserves our pity instead of our worship; or 3. Jesus knew he was not the Son of God, and deliberately deceived His followers and commissioned them to propagate a lie. Only one of the three statements can state the truth! Fair judgment must choose between three alternatives. Only one choice can be correct! In C. S. Lewis’ Through the Shadow-lands, Brian Shelby describes how the renowned English scholar viewed the inescapable alternatives: “…There suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear ... I’m trying to prevent anyone from saying the really silly things that people say about Him, such as: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That’s the one thing we mustn’t say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher! He’d either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he’s a poached egg—or else he’d be the devil of hell. “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse….Don’t let us come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a `great human teacher.’ He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.” Dr. Witty founded the Luther Rice Seminary and served as its president for twenty years. In addition to a radio and Internet ministry, he is presently a semi-retired bible teacher, church consultant, and writer. The Bible: Fact or Fiction? was published in 2001 by CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA 19034.