When one comes to a proper understanding of the importance of both the Pre-Messianic and Messianic Scriptures, the truth of Y’shua of Nazareth being the promised Messiah and the fact that neither Y’shua Himself, nor any of his early followers and apostles ever claimed that this Messiah was equal with Yahweh the Almighty, the following questions need to be answered: (1) What exactly is the role of Y’shua in the lives of those who recognize Him as Messiah, and (2) What is the proper way of honouring Y’shua, without taking away, or getting confused with, the esteem and the honour that belongs to Him (Yahweh) alone, who said more than once: “My esteem I will give to no other” (Isa 42:8; 48:11) and of Whom the rhetorical question “Who is like Me?” or “Who is like Him?” or “Who is like You?” (“Mi kamochah?”) is asked at least nine times throughout Scriptures?
Let us begin with the second question: “What is the proper way of honouring Y’shua?” Without any doubt Y’shua is worthy to be praised and honoured. Praising and honouring and even worshiping (literally: “bowing down before someone, in acknowledgement of his/her worth”) were never meant to be reserved for Yahweh only. Any person who comes to know Y’shua and learns about his life and his character and eventually becomes convinced that He truly is the promised Messiah and the “Way” (back) to Yahweh, the Father … will find within himself or herself a spontaneous desire to honour this esteemed Saviour and Son of Elohim in the best possible way.
Even the prophets who prophesied about the coming Messiah, envisioned and portrayed Him as a person of worth, worthy of the adoration and esteem of his followers. Isa 9:6 “For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us, and the rule is on his shoulder. And his Name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty One, Father of Continuity, Prince of Peace.” Zec 6:12-13 “Thus said Yahweh of hosts, saying, See, the Man whose name is the Branch … He shall build the temple of Yahweh … It is He who is going to bear the splendour.” Ps 21:4-6 “He asked life from You, and You gave it to him – Length of days forever and ever. Through Your deliverance his esteem is great; You have laid excellency and splendour on him. For You have made him most blessed forever.” When the question is asked: “Where does this esteem come from?” or “What is the reason for it?”, the answer comes very clearly from two other Messianic prophesies, Mic 5:2-4 (“But you, Betlechem Ephratah, you who are little among the clans of Yehudah, out of you shall come forth to Me the One to become Ruler in Yisrael. And His comings forth are of old, from everlasting … And He shall stand and shepherd in the strength of Yahweh, in the excellency of the Name of Yahweh His Elohim”) and Ps 118:22,26 (“The stone which the builders rejected, had become the chief cornerstone” and the subsequent declaration: “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Yahweh!”).
When Y’shua later came into this world, He fully understood this concept of being worthy of esteem and praise – only because of the Name of Yahweh and because of the esteem that Yahweh alone is able to put upon someone He had chosen: Joh 8:54 Y’shua answered, “If I esteem Myself, My esteem is none at all. It is My Father who esteems Me, of whom you say that He is your Elohim.” According to the New Testament or Messianic Scriptures, we should honour Y’shua for many other reasons, all of which are related to this ONE very important principle:
(1) All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him (Mat 28:18).
(2) He was given the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32).
(3) All had been delivered to Him by his Father (Luke 10:22).
(4) He had been given the authority … to give everlasting life … to those given to Him by his Father (Joh 17:2: notice the three-fold use of the word “give” – “didomi” – in this verse).
(5) Elohim has made Him both Master and Messiah (Acts 2:36).
(6) Yahweh has put all under his feet (1 Cor 15:21).
(7) Yahweh raised Him from the dead and seated Him at his right hand (Ephes 1:20).
(8) Yahweh gave Him to be head over all (Ephes 1:22).
(9) Elohim has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Y’shua every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Y’shua Messiah is Master, to the esteem of Elohim the Father (Phil 2:9-11).
This brings us back to the question that was asked first of all: What exactly is the role of Y’shua in the lives of those who recognize Him as Messiah? What is the proper way to esteem and honour Him in practical terms – in our daily lives, in our prayers, in our songs, in our conversations and during our times of worship and assembly? As a general rule: Let us always keep in mind these two important factors: (1) Yahweh esteems Y’shua and therefore we should also esteem Him, and (2) There is a tendency to esteem Y’shua as if He had taken over from Yahweh – as if it is all about Him, and not about the Esteemed One who appointed, authorized and exalted Him – a tendency that we should avoid at all costs.
Is it in line with Scriptural practice to pray directly to Y’shua? It does not seem that way. Y’shua Himself taught his disciples to address their prayers to “Our Father who is in heaven” (Mat 6:6,9). This practice is clearly confirmed throughout Scriptures, including the New Testament (see Mat 9:38; Mat 26:39; Mat 26:53; Mark 11:24-25; Mark 13:32-33; Mark 14:36; Luk 3:21; Luk 6:12; Luk 11:2; Luk 11:13; Luk 18:7; Luk 18:13; Luk 22:42; Joh 14:16; Joh 17:1; Acts 8:22; Acts 12:5; Acts 26:29; Rom 10:1; 1 Cor 11:13; 2 Cor 13:7; Ephes 1:17; Ephes 3:14; Col 1:3; Col 4:3; 2 Tes 1:11; James 1:5; James 4:8; 1 Pet 1:17; 1 Pet 3:12; 1 Joh 3:21-22; 1 Joh 5:14; etc). There are, however, two marginal exceptions to this rule in the New Testament. Stephen, who was stoned because of his belief in Y’shua, is recorded to have called out, with his last breath: “Master Y’shua, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59) and John, the writer of the Book of Revelation, ends off his book (and all of Scriptures) with the well-known words, almost in the form of a groan and a longing: “Yes, come Master Y’shua!” (Rev 22:20).
Y’shua is alive at this very moment. He is interceding for us as our High Priest at the right hand of Yahweh the Almighty. His entire desire for us is to be restored and established in our relationship with Yahweh, as our Creator and our heavenly Father. This is why He still prays for us before his Father, just like He did when He lived and walked here on earth. We can thank Him for that, in person, (He will hear and appreciate our thanks!) but the bulk of our prayers should still be directed to Yahweh, our Father, in line with the pattern laid down in Scriptures. When we think about the love and the undeserved favour that Y’shua had shown and poured out into our lives, through his life, death and resurrection, the “normal” and spontaneous thing to do is to bring honour and esteem and praise to his Name – in prayer and song and testimonies to one another and to people on the outside. There is no reason for us to withhold this kind of praise from Y’shua.
For us as believers in Y’shua it is completely natural to mention his works of salvation and even address Him directly in gratitude and adoration for what He has done. As long as we remember that ultimately it is Yahweh the Father who is deserving of our highest adoration and our deepest gratitude and that He, Yahweh, is the One to whom our prayers are directed, in the first place. And when we come to that day when we know that the time of our death is near (like Stephen did in Acts 7), it is perfectly normal to call upon Y’shua, knowing that it is because of the sacrifice that He had made, that death has lost its sting and can no longer keep us in our graves. In that last moment we can freely call upon the Name of Y’shua, knowing that in his own last moment He called upon the Name of Yahweh. The exalted place that Y’shua occupies in our lives, is only possible because of the exalted place that Yahweh occupied in Y’shua’s life. Because Y’shua looked up to Yahweh at all times, we can look up to Y’shua at all times, and thereby connect and relate and find peace with Yahweh.
This is what it means to be baptized, to speak, to give thanks, to gather together and to approach Yahweh “in the Name of Y’shua” (Mat 18:20; Mark 9:37; Luk 9:48; Joh 1:12; Joh 14:13; Joh 15:16; Joh 16:23; Joh 20:31; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:6; Acts 4:10; Acts 8:16; Acts 9:27; Acts 10:48; Acts 16:18; 1 Cor 5:4; Ephes 5:20; Col 3:17; 2 Thes 3:6; James 5:14; 1 Pet 4:14; 1 Joh 3:23; 1 Joh 5:13; Rev 2:13; Rev 3:8, etc). Yahweh has given his Son, Y’shua, a Name which is above every name (Phil 2:9) but if we look into the context of this chapter in Philippians, and the context of the rest of Scriptures, it becomes clear that ultimately this was not done to esteem Y’shua. No, it was done “to the esteem of Elohim the Father” (Phil 2:11 – see also Joh 11:4; Joh 21:19; Hand 7:55; Rom 1:21; Rom 16:27; 1 Cor 10:31; Ephes 1:17; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim 1:17; 1 Pet 2:12, etc).
It is only within this pattern and a clear understanding of the fact that Y’shua’s only desire is to bring esteem to his Father (and our Father), that we can gladly join in with the song sung by thousands upon thousands in Revelation 5:9-13 “You are worthy … because You were slain, and have redeemed us to Elohim by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation … and made us sovereigns and priests to our Elohim … worthy is the Lamb having been slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and respect and esteem and blessing … To Him sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb, be the blessing and the respect and the esteem and the might, forever and ever!”