Worshiping Jesus as God –
A Reply to the Late Ahmad Deedat Pt. 2a
We continue our response to Deedat’s assertion that Jesus was never worshiped as God.
What makes Deedat’s objection rather ironic is that the NT is replete with examples of people kneeling or falling down before Jesus in contexts that are clearly intended to highlight his divine identity. Note the following examples:
“When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and behold, a leper came to him AND KNELT BEFORE HIM, saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.’” Matthew 8:1-4
Here is a case where a leper kneels before the Lord beseeching him to cleanse him of his infectious skin disease. Jesus not only heals him immediately, but he even physically touches him in order to do so! This shows that Jesus is incapable of being defiled by anything or anyone, since he is the absolutely pure and holy Son of God who by just one touch or word is able to make people perfectly whole.
This wasn’t the only time that Jesus healed people of leprosy:
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samar′ia and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; AND HE FELL ON HIS FACE AT JESUS’ FEET, giving him thanks (euchariston auto). Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’” Luke 17:11-19
Here we again see just how majestic and powerful the Lord Jesus truly is, since he miraculously and instantaneously purified all ten of these lepers at the same time solely by his sovereign word.
What makes Jesus’ complaint about the other nine failing to return to praise God for their miraculous cleansing rather ironic is that, by going to the priests at the Temple they would be doing precisely that, namely, praising God for their healing. The Law required that a person cured of leprosy or any other infectious skin disease show himself to the priest so as to offer the sacrifices prescribed by God (cf. Leviticus 14:2-32). And by doing what God had commanded, the person would be showing his/her gratitude to God and therefore s/he would be rendering worship to him.
This helps us to better understand the reason why Jesus complained. It wasn’t enough for the lepers to present themselves to the priests, since they had to return to him and personally thank him if they wanted to give God his due praise. In other words, Jesus was essentially saying that to praise him was/is to praise God, precisely because he is God!
This is brought out by Luke’s use of eucharisteo to describe the action of that one leper who returned and fell at Christ’s feet, thanking the Lord Jesus for what he had done for him. Luke employed this same word in the very next chapter where Jesus in a parable contrasts the actions of a Pharisee and a tax collector as they both went up to the temple to pray:
“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee (ho Theos eucharisto soi) that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” Luke 18:9-14
The following is another case where eucharisteo is used in relation to the praise and worship one renders to God:
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ (eucharisto to Theo dia ‘Iesou Christou) for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” Romans 1:8
Jesus himself employed this very term in his prayer to the Father right before he resurrected Lazarus who had been dead for four days:
“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank thee (Pater eucharisto soi) that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Laz′arus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’” John 11:41-44
It is therefore clear that Jesus was demanding to be given the very praise and worship that God alone is supposed to receive.
Here is a further example of persons falling down before Jesus in worship:
“While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennes′aret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, HE FELL DOWN AT JESUS’ KNEES, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zeb′edee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, HE FELL ON HIS FACE and besought him, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:1-13
Peter’s response to the Lord Jesus is typical of the way people reacted when beholding God’s glorious and majestic presence:
“Then Job answered the Lord: ‘I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted. “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?” Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. “Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.” I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’” Job 42:1-6
“In the year that King Uzzi′ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” Isaiah 6:1-5
Hence, Peter’s words indicate that he realized (at least for that specific moment) that he was in the very presence of God Almighty himself, obviously because Jesus happens to be God in the flesh! This explains why both Peter and the leper fell down on their faces before Christ, since this is the only appropriate response one can give when beholding Deity itself.
In this next example, evil spirits worship Jesus since they immediately recognize who he is, despite this being their first earthly encounter with him:
“They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger′asenes. And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ And Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.’ And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country.” Mark 5:1-10
And here are the Matthean and Lucan accountings of this pericope, which help give a more complete picture:
“And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us BEFORE THE TIME?’ Now a herd of many swine was feeding at some distance from them.” Matthew 8:28-29
“And as he stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes, and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out AND FELL DOWN BEFORE HIM, and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me.’ For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.” Luke 8:27-31
These unclean spirits not only fell down in worship before the Lord Jesus, they even knew that he was/is God’s Son who had/has the power to torment them, and who would eventually do so at a specific time. These are details that they could not have possibly learned during Jesus’ earthly stay since these facts were not even revealed to Christ’s family or disciples at that time. Rather, they must have learned these facts from their time in heaven, which is where they would have first come into contact with Christ and discovered that he had been commissioned to judge and condemn not only them, but the rest of the wicked on the day appointed by God.
What makes this all the more remarkable is that Christ is depicted as possessing the absolute power to utterly subjugate all these wicked spirits simply by his word, even though we are plainly told that neither fetters nor chains could keep them bound and that there was no one strong enough to subdue them!
With the foregoing in perspective, should it surprise us that the story ends with Jesus basically identifying himself as God?
“The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but he sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much GOD (ho Theos) has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much JESUS had done for him.” Luke 8:38-39
The context here makes it quite clear that the God who had performed all those wonderful deeds for the demonically oppressed men is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ himself!
At the very least, this shows that both the inspired writer and the demoniacs understood that Jesus was claiming to be the very God who had shown compassion and mercy upon the men who had been possessed and tormented by all those unclean spirits.
Astonishingly, Luke employs the same language to describe what the Lord did for the demoniac that the Psalmist centuries earlier used to thank Yahweh his God for all that he had done for him:
“Come and listen, all who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for me.” Psalm 66:16
And the reason why this same language could be ascribed to Jesus is obviously because he is Yahweh God Incarnate!
It is now time to proceed to the next section of our rebuttal.