The acts of worship toward Jesus that we have looked at the last two months are certainly
not limited to the book of Matthew. In Mark 5 we see the man with the unclean spirit. This man
was wild and self-destructive, yet in the presence of Jesus, he came and worshipped. The demon
rebelled against Jesus but, as the man offered worship, Jesus accepted the worship and set the
man free. In John 9 we see where Jesus healed a blind man and yet the Pharisees were not at all
happy for the man and they did not want to believe the formerly blind man’s testimony. Jesus
challenged the blind man’s faith and his response was to worship Jesus, who then rebuked the
Pharisees, but not the man who worshipped him. In John 20:28 after the resurrection, Thomas
was overwhelmed and worshipped Jesus. Jesus affirmed this worship even as he did in Matt.
16:17 when he affirmed Peter for recognizing him as the Messiah.
Given all of this, we might add that when we pray are we not praying to God? If Jesus
said we are to pray in his name, and to him, then what else can that mean except that he claimed
to be the God we are praying to? (John 14:13-14; 15:7). Do we really think, given the context in
which he lived, that Jesus was not aware that only God is to be worshipped? And if he was
aware of such clear biblical teaching then what else was he doing when he accepted worship
except making the claim to be God with us?
But was not Jesus just the Messiah: a great human being meant to set his people free? In
our experience pointing out that someone thinks they are the Messiah is usually not a
compliment. A “messiah complex” is another way people point out that you think too highly of
yourself, you overvalue your importance thinking that others need you to save them. But the
messianic hope of Israel was a positive idea, a God-given hope that came through the prophets.
It was a hope that God himself would provide for them, and all the world: an ultimate way of
forgiveness. Jesus claimed to be that person and his followers held him to be that Messiah.
Now there was much to the messianic hope found in the Old Testament. It was not, and
is not a simple message but it does include one notion that is important to our discussion today.
The notion of the Messiah includes the understanding that the Messiah will be divine, that God
himself is the Messiah. Whether or not all the people of Israel grasped this or not, I am
suggesting that this is exactly what we find in Scripture. The word “Messiah” is seldom used in
the Old Testament but the description of who will be this savior is an idea that runs all through
Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy given to the house of David. It is a prophecy that a son will be
given to them who will be called “God with us,” Immanuel. Centuries later Matthew 1:20-23
explains that the Messiah was about to appear and he will be this one who is “God with us.”
There is another verse we often hear at Christmas because it tells of the coming Messiah. The
one who will break the yoke of the burden weighing on the people of Israel and who will come
to the house of David to uphold justice. Isaiah 9:6 says this son, this Messiah, will be “Mighty
God.” Then in Isaiah 32:10-12 we discover that YAHWEH is the savior and there is no God but
him. Verse 11 says, “I, even I, am YAHWEH; and there is no savior besides Me” (NASB). So
the savior, the Messiah, is God; which is made even clearer in Isaiah 44:6 where we see the
Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah, called YAHWEH.