It would indeed be the height of foolishness and blasphemy for people to worship any mere man, because true worship belongs only to God Himself. Man seemingly has a perverse streak in himself which is continually manifesting itself in some form of idolatry. Actually, by worshiping an image of his own making—whether it be the wooden idol of a pagan or the mental “model” of cosmic law constructed in the imagination of the philosopher—he is fundamentally worshiping himself.
This is why history has seen over and over again the phenomenon of multitudes of people actually worshiping some man, receiving his words as absolute truth and his commands as absolute law. Even in our enlightened current times, millions have worshiped such men as Hitler, Stalin, Mao-tse-Tung, Jim Jones, “Reverend” Moon, Hirohito, Nkrumah, and even Elijah Muhammad! The Bible says there is a time that is coming when there will be a great world government and a tremendously powerful and attractive man at the pinnacle, and that “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). By worshiping a great superman, one thus actually rejects his Creator and worships a creature (Romans 1:25), subconsciously worshiping himself. This is the greatest and worst form of idolatry.
When people claiming to be Christians regard Jesus as merely a great human teacher and example and then proceed to sing songs of praise to Him and to pray in His name, such a religion is indeed absurd and even blasphemous. If Jesus is only a man, He certainly should not be worshiped.
As a matter of fact, if He is merely a man, He does not even deserve to be honored, because He then must have been either a lying deceiver or a crazy fanatic, and thus not even a good man! This conclusion follows inescapably from the fact that He claimed again and again to be God’s only and unique Son, and to have rights and powers which belong only to God.
Consider, for example, a few of His remarkable claims: “I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father except by me” (John 14:6). “The Son of man hath power upon the earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24). “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). “For the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). “Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62).
These and many other like claims were made by Christ Himself. If such statements were ever made by any other man, he would immediately be branded as either a lunatic or a charlatan, but from the lips of Jesus Christ they sound appropriate and prophetic. For two thousand years, He has been the Light of the world, and His words have not passed away! Millions of people of all times and cultures, and of all degrees of wealth and education, have accepted Him as Savior and Lord, and have invariably been satisfied that His claims were vindicated and His promises were true.
Finally, He alone, of all the men who ever lived, conquered death itself. By all rules of evidence, His bodily resurrection from the grave can be adjudged the best-proved fact of all history. “I am the resurrection and the life,” He said, “Because I live, ye shall life also” (John 11:25; 14:19).
Thus, although Jesus was certainly a true man—indeed the one perfect Man in all history—He was also God, the second Person of the eternal Trinity. It is completely wrong, even idolatry, to worship Him while believing He is only a great man. But it is perfectly fitting to bow down and worship Him as our “great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Indeed, such acceptance and worship of Him, recognizing Him as Creator and Redeemer, is, as He said, the one and only way to forgiveness and salvation and eternal life.
Henry M. Morris and Martin E. Clark