What Jesus said about Worship


There are many today who seem to think that Jesus did not say anything about worship or they do not believe what Jesus said about worship is important because more and more people are starting to worship God based on their own desires instead of Godís desires. Humans have always problem with this because they think that God will not mind or that their way is better.


Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.


We have got to stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting in God. As Christians we must allow Godís Word to be our guide. After Jesus was raised from the dead, He said He had all authority in heaven and earth and Paul said,


Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,


Since Jesus has all authority, and He is the head over all things to the church, this means we better pay attention to what Jesus says about worship. The first time Jesus refers to worship was when He was out in dessert and the devil tried to tempt Him to sin 3 times. It is the third temptation that we want to focus on as we read in.


Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' "


The devil was doing his best to get Jesus to sin, but Jesus understood that the devil promises were empty, and even if the devil could have given him all the kingdoms that were before Him, it wouldnít change the fact that only God should be worshipped.


We also learn another important lesson from what Jesus said here because He said that we should only worship God, and we should only serve God. We have two different things going on here. There is worship to God and there is service to God. It is important for us to understand the difference between these two because there are some that teach that all of life is worship to God, but that it is not true because worship has a beginning and end. For example:


When God tested Abraham, He told him to sacrifice his only son to Him. So, Abraham obeyed God and went to a mountain to take care of the deed. This is what he said,


Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."


Notice, his worship to God was going to have a beginning and an end.


When David learned that his baby was dead, he bathed, changed clothes, and went into the house of the Lord, and worshiped (2 Sam. 12:20).When he had finished worshiping he returned home and ate a meal.


An example from the NT is when Paul told Felix, "Because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 24:11).Ē In context, Paul was giving his defense before Felix. However, the point I want to make is that Paul went to Jerusalem for the purpose to worship God. So, just like Abraham and David, Paulís worship would have a beginning and end, so all of life is not worship.


However, when it comes to serving God, which can include worshipping God, it is something that we should strive to do in every aspect of our life as Paul said,


Romans 12:1 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. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


So, all life is not worship, but we should strive to serve God all of our life, and God is the only one that we should worship.


The second reference that Jesus makes about worship comes from,


Matthew 15:1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,2 "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread."3 He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?4 "For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'5 "But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" -- ††6 'then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.7 "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "


This another classic example where the opposing Jews were always trying to find a way to trap Jesus in His words, but as usual, Jesus always turned the situation around, and taught these Jews a valuable lesson about their worship to God. He let them know that they were worshipping God in vain because they were putting the traditions of men above the commandments of God.


Now these Jews were directing their worship to God, but they only did so outwardly because their heart was not in it. If they had loved God with their whole heart, mind, and soul they would have not been guilty of worshipping God in vain.


Since we can worship God in vain, this teaches us that not all worship is acceptable to God no matter how sincere we may be. According to what Jesus said, there are only two possibilities when it comes to worship. We can either worship as the commandments of men, which Jesus calls vain worship that will not be accepted by God, or we can worship God according to His commandments, which will please Him. If we love God and we want to make it to heaven, then we should always stick to what God has told us to do.


Jesus gives us a great example of how we can determine if something is vain worship or proper worship.


Matthew 21:24 But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things:25 "The baptism of John -- where was it from? From heaven or from men?"


Jesus was talking to the opposing Jews about Johnís baptism. The question was simple was Johnís baptism from heaven or men? This simple question can help us determine if something we are doing is vain worship or proper worship and of course the only way we can answer that question is by seeing if what we are doing is authorized in the New Testament.


Notice the response of the Jews to Jesus question.


Matthew 21:25 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?'26 "But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet."27 So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know."


There are many people that are just like these Jews today because they donít want to be honest and answer this simple question, Is our worship to God from heaven or from men? For instance, those who use musical instruments in their worship to God need to ask the question are musical instruments commanded in the NT? No, they are not. There is not one example of them being used in the NT church, nor is their one verse that commands their use. Even when you look at the early writings from the 1st and 2nd century the musical instruments were not used. In fact, the first time they were used was by the Catholic in the 6th century.


The only thing God commands us to do in Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 is to sing and make melody in our heart and this is why when we worship, we do not use musical instruments because once you add musical instruments to your worship what are doing? You are worshipping God in vain no matter how sincere you may be. Again, all we have to do is ask the simple question is using musical instruments in worship to God from heaven or from men? Of course the answer is from men because it cannot be found in the New Testament. This same idea can be used with anything that we might do in worship such as having women elders or preachers or singing solos or having a choir in worship, partaking of the Lordís Supper on some other day than Sunday, teaching that a person must tithe, and the list can go on and on. So we must be careful that we do those that are pleasing to God and not pleasing to man.


The third thing that Jesus teaches us about worship comes from His interesting encounter with a woman at a well. Jesus had left Judea and was making His way to Galilee, but instead of going around Samaria they went through Samaria, which the Jews normally wound not do. Jesus was tired from His travel and rested by the well while His disciples went to go find some food. While they were gone a Samaritan woman came to the well to get some water and Jesus did something that was unheard for a Jewish male to do. He asked this Samaritan woman for a drink of water, and this surprised the woman that He did this.


The more this woman and Jesus talked, she figured out that He must be a prophet because He was able to know all about her life and her previous husbands. This caused her to ask a great question, which teaches us more about worship. Her questions was this,


John 4:20 "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."


This was one of the reasons the Jews and the Samaritans didnít get a long because the Samaritans thought there mountain was the proper place to worship, and the Jews thought Jerusalem was the proper place to worship. Notice Jesus response:


John 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."


Jesus was teaching this woman and us that when the new convent came into effect there would no longer be a sacred place that we have to worship at. Those who call that place they worship the sanctuary have failed to understand what Jesus was talking about in our passage because the place we worship at is not sacred, but the worship that we offer is sacred as Paul said,


1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.††


We are the temple of God, and we are what makes up the church. This means we can assembly anywhere and offer acceptable worship to God. If we assemble in tent, a rented building or even in the great outdoors the church will be there. So, Jesus is not concerned where we worship, instead, He is concerned about how we worship.


In verse 23 Jesus said, true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Since there are true worshippers, this also means that their can be false worshippers. Those who are false worshippers offer worship to God, but their worship is not accepted by Him because it was not done in spirit and in truth.


Cain was this type of worshiper. He offered up worship to God, but the problem was he didnít do it by faith. The writer of Hebrews gives us this idea in,


Hebrews 11:4 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.


Abel offered his sacrifice by faith, but Cain did not. Now remember that


Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


This means that Able had followed the commandments of God carefully and did so sincerely when he made his sacrifice. However, Cain did not, and this is why his offering to the Lord was not accepted by God.


There are many that are just like Cain today who are not true worshippers of God. Yes, they offer a form of worship, but it is not done accordance with Godís Word. Paul calls this kind of worship self-imposed religion in Col. 2:23. Self-imposed religion is when you dictate your worship to God based on your desires. It is the philosophy that says, ďdo your own thing.Ē


However Jesus said that God is seeking true worshipers that are willing to follow His directions. One writer said this:


God is pictured as going up and down looking for someone who is worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. As you sit in the audience taking part, or maybe not taking part, in the worship, God is looking and trying to see if you are worshiping in the proper spirit. Is the worship an ordeal? Is there such hatred for someone in the service that you cannot worship with the right attitude? Are you listening to the prayers, and saying your amen to them? Did you miss the Bible study? Are you taking a part in the singing? Did you give your smallest coin, or moldiest old bill? Is the service something to criticize? How many real worshipers did God see in this audience?


In John 4:24, Jesus makes it very clear how we must worship God.


24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."


Notice Jesus used the word must, which literally means is necessary. Jesus is telling us that we must, without exception, worship in spirit and in truth. No other worship will accepted by God. So we can make sure that our worship is acceptable to God, letís take a look at the two elements that are necessary.


First, is in spirit.


To worship in spirit means that we will worship God from a sincere earnest heart, which means we will put all our thoughts into what we are doing. Worship is not the reciting of memorized words, or a set of rituals which have been repeated so many times that they no longer have meaning.

No, worship takes careful thought and constant attention. We must do our best to concentrate on the things being said and done in the worship service. This requires self-discipline. True worshipers must not allow their thoughts to wander. Instead, we must keep our minds on the matter at hand. Otherwise, our worship can become empty and void of thought. So, worshipping God in spirit has to do with our attitude, which means we must use our emotions and feelings as we worship God.


The second element of true worship is worshipping God in truth. What is truth? Jesus answers this question in,


John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.


Since Godís Word is truth, this means we must worship God in accordance with His Word. As Paul said,


Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


If our worship is going to be pleasing to God it must be in accordance with Godís Word. If we are not worshipping God by following His Word, then we are not true worshippers. We donít have any excuse that we can use that will justify adding something God has not authorized because God has given us a pattern to follow after, and we must read and study about it in our Bibles because we cannot worship God based on what we feel is right.


Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.


When people start worshipping God based on what they feel is right, they will bring in all kinds of things that may entertain or draw great numbers, but please understand that is wrong to do this. This is why it is wrong for people to bring the musical instrument into their worship to God. Yes, the instruments make a wonderful noise in the right hands, and musical instruments may even draw more people to a church, but that does not make them right because they are not authorized under the new covenant. Since they are not authorized by God, if we worship with them, then it is a sin because they are the way of man and not the way of God.


This can be said about anything that we try to add take away from Godís Word. We must understand that worshipping God is all about God and being pleasing to Him because worshipping God is not about us and what we desire. As Jesus said in the Garden Gethsemane to His Father, not my will, but yours be done.


One writer said this,


From the idea that is frequently suggested about singing, we gather that many in the church think worship is to be entertainment. But this is far from the truth. Worship is spiritual. It is to help us gain control over the flesh, and to do this the worship must be spiritual. If it appeals to the flesh, it defeats its own purpose. How foolish it is to add some novel attraction to worship to draw a crowd, and cultivate a taste that cannot be gratified, for more and more entertainment. If we enter into competition with the shows we are bound to fail, for the shows can put on far better shows than the church can, and so why go to church to see a show. Let us keep worship spiritual, and not arrange it to appeal to the flesh.


Under the new covenant there are 5 basic elements that are authorized for our worship assembles.


First, on the first day of every week we are to partake of the Lordís Supper Acts 20:7

Second, on the first day of every week we are to give of our money 1 Cor. 16:1-2

Third, Godís Word is to be taught Acts 20:7

Fourth, we are to pray together 1 Thes. 5:17

Fifth, we are all to sing together from our hearts without using musical instruments Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.


God has not made our worship to Him difficult, and anytime we try to add to this or take away from it, we are making that bold statement that we can do it better than God. I hope and pray that none of us in this room develop this type of attitude because if we do, our worship will not be acceptable to God.


In conclusion, Jesus has taught a lot about worship and how it s to be done. We have learned that God is the only one we should worship and that all life is not worship, but all of our life should be dedicated to serving God. We learned that God will not accept vain worship, which is done by following the doctrines men. Finally, we learned that we must worship in spirit, which is from the heart, and in truth, which is following Godís Word. I want to end my lesson with what Jesus said in,


John 12:48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.