Worship in Scripture (Part Three)

La présentation de Jésus au Temple, James Tissot

La présentation de Jésus au Temple, James Tissot

We need to remember that Jesus’s entire life revolved around the elaborate system of worship in the Temple. This is where and how He worshiped during the festivals. This is the Temple that He cleansed from the merchants and the money changers.

Jesus did say, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (St. John 4.23, 24) Jesus did not abolish liturgy, but He transfigured it, giving it Life. The Father is worshiped in the Holy Spirit and in Christ Himself (the Truth). Following the liturgical service alone is not enough. One must receive the Holy Spirit and believe in Jesus Christ to worship God the Father with purity of heart.

Were the Apostles any less liturgical? Acts 2.42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The early Christians were devoted to apostolic doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of eucharistic bread, and the prayers. That’s not just prayer in general. The specific prayers. Jewish worship involved liturgical prayers, especially the Psalms. These naturally flowed into New Testament worship. Regarding worship, the Apostle Paul said, “all things should be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14.40). He also said, “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” (1 Corinthians 11.2) Paul did not distinguish between his oral and written teachings. His oral teachings were just as God-given as his written teachings. (Remember is also of liturgical note as it refers to the corporate prayer for the apostle). The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings [εὐχαριστίας, Eucharists] be made for all men.” (1 Timothy 2.1) These all point to a liturgical system of worship present among the earliest Christians with full apostolic authority.

We read in Acts 1.3, “To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” Interesting that Moses was also on Sinai for forty days to receive the liturgy of the OT.  While we do not know the specifics of what Jesus taught the disciples during those forty days – and I do not intend to speculate as to what He taught – we do know that laying on hands for ordination, the water and Word of Baptism, and the Holy Communion were all ordained of Christ. These ceremonies of worship were important to Him and He taught them to His disciples to be passed down through all generations of the Church.

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