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“They Worshipped Him”

By Kyle Pope

Notice with me an enlightening verse found in Matthew 28:9. After the resurrection of the Messiah the women who went to the tomb encounter the risen Lord. The text reads - “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ And they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him” (NKJV). How does this match our image of worship to God? Do we conceive of humbling ourselves to the degree that we would fall on our face, grasping His feet?

In Scripture it is not unusual to find worship described in this way. In Revelation 3:9 the Lord speaks of punishing the rebellious Jews of Philadelphia by making them - “...come and worship before your (i.e. the saints in Philadelphia’s) feet...” In Acts 10:25 the Bible records that when Cornelius first saw Peter, he – “...met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him.” Finally, Revelation 22:8 tells us that after all the glories of the book of Revelation were revealed to him, the Apostle John – “...fell down to worship before the feet of the angel...” who had shown these things to him.

The connection so frequently found between feet and “worship” is understandable. The Greek word which is translated “worship,” proskuneo means literally “to kiss towards.” (Thayer, pg. 548). To men and women in ancient times (as in eastern countries to this day) bowing prostrate before a ruler, or in reverence to deity were accepted practices. The picture is that of bowing before the feet of the one being worshipped and kissing their feet in homage and submission.

Are we approaching the Lord with this attitude when we worship Him? Imagine kneeling down in our nice suits and Sunday dresses, putting our face to the ground stretching our hands out, as we lay ourselves flat on the floor in front of the Lord grasping His feet and kissing them in humble gratitude and submission. It would certainly be difficult to cling to any kind of selfish pride or vanity in such a condition. I’m afraid our culture is not even prepared to allow such an attitude without ridicule and scorn if such humility were demonstrated.

I am not convinced that the Scriptures ask us to physically prostrate ourselves before the Lord when we approach Him in worship. However, I do believe that we must have the disposition in approaching Him that in our mind “falls down” before Him with the same kind of self-abasement we would possess if we physically did so. That isn’t timidity, but recognition of God’s superiority and our frailty. How will this kind of disposition show itself?

In a desire to fully and completely obey Him.

In an interest in His people.

In an effort to worship Him in truth.

In a willingness to seek authority for our deeds.

In a readiness to deny our own wishes.

 In I Corinthians 14:25 we are told what a great effect our teaching and disposition can have upon unbelievers. The Lord would have our assemblies to be such that when an unbeliever visits among us, after being convinced of the truths preached they will feel compelled to imitate our worship. The text tells us that when such a person realizes that their heart lies open to God, after - “falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” Let us strive to make our worship to God like that.  

Pope, Kyle. "They Worshipped Him" Truth Magazine 53.3 (March 2009): 24.  

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