God’s Mandate for Worship

By Vernon M. Whaley

The disciples were probably less than enthusiastic about the meeting. It certainly wasn’t their first time to attend one of His called business sessions. Previously, they had meetings about feeding the poor, taking care of one another, and the proper and improper use of the Temple for selling merchandise.

Once they met with 5,000 people and served lunch. On another occasion they met at the home of two sisters and watched Jesus raise their brother from the dead. Now, Jesus wanted another meeting.

Didn’t He know they were much too busy in ministry, much too overbooked, much too interested in establishing the Kingdom, to take out time for a gathering of the boys? Not one of the disciples in Matthew 28:16-20 had volunteered for such a convocation.

Think about it: Jesus returned from the tomb as victor over death, and now, He wanted a staff meeting.  This meeting with Jesus was different than those called just a few weeks earlier, because this was a different Jesus.

This time He called a meeting as Jesus, the risen Lord. This meeting was not to lay plans for an upper room dinner. Here, Jesus called His chosen aside for the specific purpose of giving the Great Commission.

Before declaring His power, His purpose, His plan or His person, Jesus engaged the disciples in an incredible lesson on worship. He taught them four essentials for worship that would prepare them for service:

Place of Worship

Matthew 28:16 indicates that the disciples went away to an appointed place. The first principle is that we need to meet God in a special place. Apparently Jesus asked for a meeting. In response, His disciples went to . . . “a mountain at the place where [He] had appointed them.”

Notice that the disciples went away. They were immediately obedient. They were prepared to meet alone with Jesus. It is difficult to focus on being with God if life’s distractions clamor for our attention.

We need to speak to God; He wants to speak to us. We need a place where we can meet with God and listen. This place needs to be away from the crowd, designated for the purpose of meeting God, and appropriated for time alone with the Creator.

The appointed meeting place may be on a mountain (like Matt. 28:16), by the seashore, in a gym room, by an office desk, the quiet of a kitchen or in a small prayer chapel. The location is not as important as the meeting. What is important is that we have a special place to meet God away from the distractions of this world.

Maltbie Babcock was a tall, broad shouldered, handsome man with muscles of iron. He was a Presbyterian minister who arose early in the morning, took a walk across the upper New York countryside, and there—among the wonders of God’s creation—he would spend hours alone with God.

The story is told of Babcock arising on one particularly beautiful morning, taking his walk, returning to his study and writing:

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears,
All nature sings,
And round me rings
The music of the spheres,
This is my Father’s world,
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees,
Of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

Maltbie Babcock, 1901.

After worshiping alone with God and writing this wondrous worship and praise hymn, Babcock laid his head down on his desk and died. What Babcock saw in faith was at last made sight through grace.

Person of Worship

The second principle is that we need to recognize the person of our worship. Matthew 28:17 says, “And when they saw him, they worshiped him.”

Two important relationship ideals are involved here: (1) They saw Him and, (2) They worshiped. These disciples believed in Jesus as their Redeemer, their Savior, their Atonement, their Righteousness and their Lord. Seeing Jesus and recognizing who He is always leads to worship.

The Samaritan woman worshiped when she recognized Jesus as Lord. Peter saw and believed. The women in Matthew 28 fell on their faces and took hold of Jesus’ feet when they saw Him. Worship is engaged when we see and acknowledge Jesus as Lord.

Our priorities change, our focus on ministry intensifies, and our relationships with others take on a new dimension as we give ourselves to the worship of God. God’s blessings are upon us when we worship Him. When we see and worship Jesus Christ as Lord, we are compelled to tell others about His wonders.

This time, the disciples saw Jesus as the risen Lord, their Messiah and they worshiped. Notice, Jesus did not speak to them until they worshiped.

Problems of Worship

It is most curious that some doubted. In the very presence of the living, risen, victorious Savior, some chose not to believe. I’m convinced there will be doubters present whenever there is true worship.

It is a sad commentary of Christianity that negative criticism of God’s work often comes from God’s people. It is an historical fact that whenever God works, Satan works. You can count on it. Some well meaning saint will almost always complain when God is at work.

Satan tries to keep people from worshiping God through doubt, distrust, fear of change and unbelief. Strangely enough, Satan first plants doubt in the hearts of God’s own people. Then Satan deceives people into discounting the validity of the worship experience altogether.

If that is not successful, Satan attempts to get God’s children sidetracked and at odds with one another. Satan was thrown out of Heaven because of his own jealousy of worship given to God. He intends to defeat worship of God by God’s people today. The exciting truth is that Satan stands powerless when God’s people worship.

Jack Taylor in his book, The Hallelujah Factor, says that worship and praise by God’s people is the only weapon in the Christian’s arsenal for which Satan has no counterpart. Satan is silenced when we worship God.

Someone doubted in the very presence of Jesus. Jesus’ reaction? He ministered to them all. Jesus did not rebuke the doubter. He did not force change. He did not ask the doubters to go home. Instead, He ministered the Word to doubter and believer alike.

Power from Worship

It was after the disciples worshiped Jesus that they received power for service. Jesus reminded them of His own credentials. He told them that “all power in heaven and earth” was His. He promised His presence as they baptized and taught . . . and along with His presence came His power.

How was this meeting with the Master different than all the rest? In business, we would ask, “What kind of P & L (Profit and Loss) did they experience?” What was the result of this worship?

The result of their worship was the Great Commission. Would Jesus have given power from Heaven if these men had not fallen on their faces in worship of Him? God honored their worship and empowered them to fulfill unbelievable teaching and preaching responsibilities.

God met with these men as they worshiped in a special, holy place. He allowed them to draw upon divine resources, revealed Himself as they continued to believe, worked through their lives as they exalted Christ, and performed miracles as they trusted in His grace.

This was no ordinary staff meeting. This encounter with Jesus changed their lives forever. A few doubted. Most believed. Jesus was glorified. The Kingdom of God was advanced as men translated their worship experience into daily obedience.

Next Sunday, let’s meet for worship, glorify the Savior, hear the Word and leave filled with His power. It can happen in your church. Meet Him there!

Article adapted from Contact magazine, April 1996.