Read: Revelation 5
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. – Revelation 5:12-14
The scene in Revelation 5 reveals a glimpse into heaven, and at the heart of what is going on in heaven is worship. But, if you’re like me, worship can often feel mysterious. There are times when my heart overflows with love for Christ, but a lot of the time worshipping in spirit and truth feels elusive—something I want to hunger for but often don’t. But in Revelation 5, we see worship—fall on your face, sing a new song to the Lord, overcome by the glory of our beautiful King Jesus worship. It is this kind of adoration that we will one day participate in with the angels for all eternity. Though today we gaze upon the beauty of Christ in a mirror dimly, not seeing him perfectly face-to-face (1 Cor 13:12), we are still invited, and called, to worship our risen King for what he has done and for who he is.
What He has done
O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas hymns because it captures the same spirit of adoration that we see in Revelation 5. Listen to some of the lyrics:
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, O, hear the angels voices.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger, in all our trials born to be our Friend. He knows our need—to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your king, before him lowly bend!
Truly he taught us to love one another; His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
and in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we; let all within us praise his holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise his name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim!
O Holy Night connects the birth of Jesus to the restoration of all things and his glorious reign forevermore, and throughout it all is worship. Fall on your knees, behold your king, bow before him, let all within us praise his holy name! But the song also articulates what Jesus has done to deserve our response of adoration and praise. He breaks into our weary world with hope, he knows our weakness and needs intimately, he is our friend, his law is love and gospel is peace, and in his name all oppression shall cease.
Likewise, in the throne room of heaven that Revelation 5 depicts, the angels and elders fall down in worship of Jesus because of what he has done. Their weeping ceases, they sing a new song praising Jesus as the worthy one because he was slain and ransomed his people to God so that they might reign on the earth. The works of God are wonderful and make him worthy of our worship every single day. And yet, often we don’t.
Our God has worked throughout history making a way for us to know him and love him, but it is all too easy to want more. Our world is broken, we are broken. Painful circumstances come our way, families separate, children starve, disaster strikes time and again. Sometimes the way God has worked in the past doesn’t feel like it’s enough to keep us going today. We need to learn to love God for himself as well as for the things he has done for us.
Who He is
Adoring Jesus is not only about what he has done, it is at least about that, but it is also about who he is. This is the difference between prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of adoration. Thanksgiving is thanking God for the ways he has revealed his character in our lives and what he has done for us. But adoration is about loving God for who he is. It is often difficult to even express our love of God in ways apart from how he has acted in our lives—God’s actions are always a perfect reflection of his character, but loving God for what he has done is just a part of loving him for who he is.
When I worked with college students, the question came up that if God never answered another one of your prayers and your life became like the life of Job, would you still love Him? Most of the students said, how could we? Their love of God was fixed primarily on what God might do for them in the future, not what he had already done for them, and certainly not for who he was. But when Christ entered the world, the Magi and shepherds came and bowed before him as a tiny infant, a baby who hadn’t done anything. The full glory of God manifested itself as a baby, and even before he spoke a word or healed a blind man, Jesus was worthy of our worship simply because of who he was.
In the throne room of Revelation 5, the elders and angels worship Jesus because of what he has done but also because they experience the glory of Christ. The same glory that passed over Moses and covered him because it would be too much (Ex 33:22), the same glory that kept Israel away from Mount Sinai (Ex 19:23), the same glory that dropped Uzziah dead when he touched the ark of the covenant (2 Sam 6:7). God’s glory is the summation of all of his perfect attributes—his perfect justice meeting his perfect righteousness, his complete power held in tension with his boundless mercy, his just wrath and his gracious compassion. When we come in contact with this utter perfection, we cannot help but worship.
Jesus is described as both the conquering Lion and the slain Lamb, images that capture the beauty of this King we worship. He is not just a roaring Lion who judges the world with wrath, he is also the meek and humble Lamb who gave himself up for the sake of others. Christ in his glory is the beautiful one who draws us into worship for who he is.
In this season, may we adore God both for his actions towards us in the incarnation, but also for the perfect beauty of Christ; his glory that will one day be fully revealed and we join with the heavens in declaring, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (Rev 5:12)!”
Reflect: Spend time considering what God has done in your life that is worthy of worshipping him. Reflect upon what those gifts reveal about God’s character that is beautiful and worthy of your adoration. Take time to thank God for his gifts and to adore him for who he is.