There is a question we sometimes ask and answer in our church. It goes like this: "Is Jesus the one we worship, or is He the one who leads our worship?" The answer is: "Yes! He is both. He is the one we worship because He is God. And He is the one who leads our worship because He is one of us." He is Man, born of the virgin Mary, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law. (Galatians 4:4) He became one of us with flesh and blood, fingers and toes, able to be tempted, and needing to go to His Father in prayer. Jesus regularly went off by Himself to spend long hours in prayer.
And we are used to verses that show us Jesus in worship. Such as when Jesus said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children, ..." (Matthew 11:25) And Jesus went up to the temple for the feasts. And He went to the synagogues weekly. He observed the Sabbath. He was a man of worship and prayer.
Part of worship was what happened before the meals. For example, with the feeding of the 5,000 what happened before the meal? Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fish and then "looked up to heaven and said a blessing." (Matthew 14:19) That word is important. In Greek it is eulogaysen. It could be translated "He prayed the blessing." It means to talk to God in worship and to speak God's praises for the blessings we have received from His Fatherly care. It is to bless God because we have been blessed by God. His blessings are active. He gives our daily needs. In fact He gives us our days, with life and breath, sun and rain, food and drink, house and home, and so many other good things. Our blessing is to speak His praise, to tell of His goodness and to do so with faith, knowing that He is a loving God.
When Jesus spoke the blessing that day before feeding the crowd, what did He say? I read in a commentary this week that no doubt His speaking the blessing before the meal would be special and intimate. What would it be like to be there and hear the Son of God thanking and praising His Father for the daily blessings He had received, and then to include the loaves of bread and the fish in that wonderful thanksgiving. Now that is worship!
We do know something of how it likely started. A traditional Jewish mealtime prayer begins, "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe ..." As a mealtime prayer it then continues with thanks and praise for the blessings received, including the meal. The wording is very old. It goes back at least to King David. Psalm 103 begins, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, ..." (Psalm 103:1-2) and then David goes on to enumerate the blessings. It's a good pattern of worship.
So we come to Easter. It is the normal pattern for us to think about Easter and picture the disciples worshiping Jesus. The women returning from the tomb worshiped Him. (Matthew 28:9) Mary Magdalene cried out "Rabboni" and apparently clung to Him. (John 20:16) And a week later Thomas said, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)
But then Luke tells us how Jesus walked with the two on the road to Emmaus. And as He did so, Jesus explained to them why the Christ had to suffer and enter into His glory. They got to Emmaus and "urged Him strongly" to stay. And then it was time for the meal. "He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him." (Luke 24:30-31) Later that evening they explained to the disciples back in Jerusalem "what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread." (Luke 24:35)
Notice the pattern? Jesus begins the meal by praying the blessing. It is an act of worship, just like with the feeding of the 5,000, and then with the feeding of the 4,000. But this is Easter! And Jesus is not done with worship, with leading us in the worship of His heavenly Father. He prays the prayers and speaks the praises of God as He receives the blessings of daily bread. (Let me assume here that later on when Jesus shared breakfast with His disciples on the shore that meal also started out with worship and prayer. (John 21:9-13)) He is still one of us. He is still the One who leads our worship. And as He worships His Father He calls us His "brothers." (Hebrews 2:12)
It's right there in the Psalm of Good Friday. After the word from the cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1) And after the description of crucifixion (Psalm 22:7-18) there is Jesus looking forward to worship. "I will tell of Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You: ... From You comes My praise in the Great Congregation; My vows I will perform before those who fear Him." (Psalm 22:22-25) When Jesus "took the bread, prayed the blessing, and broke and gave it to them" it was the beginning of that hope being fulfilled. He was worshiping, praising His Father and telling of the blessings of God "to [His] brothers."
I finished the sermon today wondering and expecting that on Judgment Day also Jesus will be leading us in worship. Will that will be part of the whole experience on that day? From the Psalm ("... in the midst of the congregation I will praise You: ... From You comes My praise in the Great Congregation ...") it looks like it is absolutely certain. It will be. On Judgment Day Jesus will lead us in worship. He will still be one of us, the Son of Man, risen from the dead and glorified, and still one of us. What an amazing day that will be!
But that is exactly why He came and was born for us. It was to take us who had wandered far from God, to purchase and win us by His blood, and to bring us back into fellowship with God, where there is glory and praise, celebration and joy for all eternity.
Lord Jesus, lead me in worship, that my heart may be turned to God; that I may learn the pattern of praise for the countless blessings of each day; and that I may look forward with longing to that day when I join my voice to Yours in the songs of eternal life. Amen.