The Highest Worship

In Luke 7:36-50, a sinful woman came to Jesus. She wept on his feet, wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with oil. Picture it in your mind. It is a stunning act of worship. It happened at a Pharisee’s home. That Pharisee knew who this woman was, and just how sinful she was, so he despised Jesus for accepting praise from such a sinful woman. He thought, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” (7:39). But Jesus knew exactly who this woman was, and he even knew what this Pharisee was thinking. So he went on to talk about forgiveness, and he declared to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven” (7:48). Forgiveness is what this woman sought from Jesus, and that is the highest form of worship.

Philip Melanchthon (one of the Lutheran reformers) commented on this woman, “The woman came with the opinion that forgiveness of sins should be sought in Christ. This worship is the highest worship of Christ. She could think nothing greater about Christ. To seek the forgiveness of sins from Him was truly to acknowledge the Messiah. To think of Christ this way, to worship Him this way, to embrace Him this way, is truly to believe” (The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article V, 33).

This is how we should think about worship. What are we doing when we come to worship? Are we coming to offer something to God? Are we coming to give him something? If that is how we think of worship, what does it confess about God? That would be to say that God needs something from us. To think that way is to diminish Christ as needy or selfish. Instead, we come to receive from him. We come seeking forgiveness from him. And what does this confess about Christ? It confesses that he is powerful enough that he needs nothing from us, and he is gracious to forgive our sins.

Whatever we ask of Jesus reveals what we think of him. If we are hesitant to ask for much, it reveals that we don’t think he is generous. The highest worship is to ask for the forgiveness of sins, to ask for eternal life, and to ask for an inheritance in his kingdom. When we ask for these things, we confess that he is powerful, merciful, and gracious. These are bold requests, and we have confidence to make them, because God has promised to give them.

The peace of Christ be with you all,

Pastor Dan Antal