Jesus Christ Is Lord and Worthy of Our Worship: a Reflection on Acts 9:1-6, Psalm 30, Revelation 5:1
It’s all about Jesus. That reality is at the root of Jesus’ question to Simon Peter, “…do you love me more than these?”and the hymn cited in Revelation, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Whatever forms of despair, discouragement, and doubt you bring to church this day, a new way of living is available to you. On this Third Sunday of Easter, the Psalmist declares, “O Lord my God, I cried to you for help and you have healed me.” Hope is the anticipation of the future as the fulfillment of God’s purposes.
Every creature in heaven, liberated from whatever was oppressive in this life will worship God. Worship is “the feeling or expression of reverence for a deity.” Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, we can exalt him freely and unencumbered. We will no longer be distracted by the other things we worship in “God like ways”, things such as power, prestige, and privilege. Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead we can singularly turn ourselves to God “…in order to look, see, and be taken up in wonder, love, and praise.” This can cause us to examine the ways we revere power, prestige, and privilege. In these inappropriate gods, we realize being unfaithful to the One who is always faithful.
The text from the Gospel of John is helpful in this regard lifting up our tendency for being unfaithful:
When we adopt a posture of scarcity we are unfaithful. Jesus appearing to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberius reminds us of the feeding stories of the thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread.
When we become immobilized by perseverance we are unfaithful. Jesus helping the disciples catch fish reminds us of their boats being empty one moment and overfilled the next.
When we make God in our image we are unfaithful. Jesus unrecognized by the disciples when he called to them from the shore reminds us how Mary mistook him as the gardener at the empty tomb.
When we complain about sacrifice and service we are unfaithful. Jesus inviting the disciples to breakfast and feeding them reminds us how he did the same that fateful evening in the Upper Room.
When we are all talk and no action we are unfaithful. Jesus asking Peter three times if he loved him reminds us of the three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.
Being preoccupied with “self” we lose our singular focus on Jesus and place it
on ourselves. Mark Buchanan, pastor, professor, and author, relates the following encounter:
The Tuesday night prayer meeting at Brooklyn Tabernacle felt like skydiving into a tornado, exhausting and exhilarating all at once…Nothing prepared me for the event itself: 3,500 God-hungry people storming heaven for two hours.
Afterward…I went out to dinner with the Cymbalas. In the course of the meal, Jim turned to me and said, “Mark, do you know what the number one sin of the church in America is?” I wasn’t sure, and the question was rhetorical anyhow.
“The number one sin of the church in America,” he said, “is that its pastors and leaders are not on their knees crying out to God, “Bring us the…addicted…destitute…the people nobody else wants…and let us love them in your name…”
I had no response…I had never prayed, not once, for God to bring such people to my church. So I went home and repented…I began to cry out for “those nobody wants.”
Death was defeated at the resurrection. Death, the end of all life as we know it, the destroyer of all dreams, the breaker of all hopes, the crushing burden of all life, and the loss of all love was defeated.
A singular worship of Jesus, who alone is worthy of such reverence, is required of those who name the name of Jesus. The people nobody wants and those trapped in the empty promises of power, prestige, and privilege will see and be invited into a better way to live.
Concise Oxford Dictionary Tenth Edition (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 1649.
Michael Pasquarello III in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 421.
Idea gleaned from Thomas H. Troeger in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 421.
Mark Buchanan, “Messy, Costly, Dirty Ministry,” Leadershipjournal.net (5-15-09).
Gleaned from James C. Goodloe’s sermon “Why Seek the Living Among the Dead?” preached on January 15, 2006.