I received the following question:

I am dealing with a heresy there which says that one should not worship Jesus. They say you should worship the Father, but Jesus just didn’t want to be worshiped. So they will pray to the Father, through Jesus but never to Jesus. Can you show that we should worship and pray to Jesus, directly?

The best book to go to to show the Godhood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the book of John. There, we read, in John 1:1:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

That this Word is the Lord Jesus is established in verses 14 and 15:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’’”

That the Word is the Lord Jesus is plain, and that the Word was God is established in verse 1.

Some, in trying to destroy the message of John 1:1, have pointed out that there is no direct article “the” before the word “God” in this verse, and suggest that this means that the indirect article “a” should be supplied, making the verse to read, “the Word was a God.” Yet this is not a correct assessment of the Greek. Koine Greek does not need the direct article before “God.” Its inclusion before “Word” is to mark this word out as the subject, so we do not think that the sentence should read, “God was Word,” similar to statements like “God is love” and so forth. It does not mean that we should supply the word “a” before “God.”

Another evidence we find in this same chapter comes in verse 34, where John declares, “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” In order to understand the full implications of this, we need to understand the meaning of the word “son,” something I have tried to explain in my message, “Sonship.” In English, the word “son” basically means someone’s little boy. The female equivalent of the word is “daughter.” When we say someone is a “son,” we mean they are someone’s male child.  “Sons and daughters” would be an English statement we would make to indicate both male and female children. Yet this is not what the word “son” means in the Bible. To the Hebrew mind, a “son” was not someone’s little boy.

Remember, the nation of Israel started as a nomadic people at the time of Abraham. The family would travel around together, and was basically its own little unit. Thus, the eldest male or patriarch of the family was in charge of this little unit of people, much like a CEO in our day is in charge of a company. Thus, it was very important for the patriarch to have decided in advance who was going to take charge of the family once he was no longer able to do so. The usual method was to choose one of his male children, most often the oldest, and declare that child to be his heir. That child, then, became the firstborn son. Notice that this child did not have to be the literal firstborn. For example, in the case of Reuben and Joseph, the children of Jacob, Joseph was chosen as the heir over Reuben because Reuben slept with his father’s concubine. Therefore, Joseph became the “firstborn” even though Reuben was older.

Once a child was chosen to be the firstborn son, this child was then trained to become the future leader of the family. Once he knew business well enough, the father would declare him as the heir. At that time, he would become co-leader of the family with his father, until such time as his father would either retire or die, at which point he would take over the family himself.

Every child who received an inheritance could technically be called a son, although only one could be the firstborn. In Abraham’s case, only one child received an inheritance, and that was Isaac. That is why God could call him “your son, your only son Isaac” when Ishmael was still alive (Genesis 22:2.) Isaac was the only son because he was the only heir.

From these facts about the word “son,” we can learn what it meant in the Bible. A son was someone who represented his father. His decisions were considered binding, his word was as good as his father’s, his character was judged to be his father’s responsibility as well as his own, and so forth. A son could speak and it was as if the father had spoken. A son could make a decision and it was as if the father had made the decision. This is what a son was.

Now we consider Christ as being called the “Son of God.” To be a representative of God is an amazing thing! That we will ourselves be sons of God someday does not detract from the Sonship of Jesus Christ. His representation of the Father is total and complete, for no other son, no matter how much he carried out his father’s wishes, could ever claim to BE his father! And yet that is exactly what Christ claimed in John 14:7-11.

7. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 
8. Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 
9. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father’?

10. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

11. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”

The Lord clearly declares in these verses that He and the Father are one, and that one who has seen Him has seen the Father! Could any statement be clearer that the Lord is God?

Returning to John 1:34, when John declares Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, he is declaring far more than that Jesus is “God’s little boy,” as we might imagine from considering the word “son” in English. He is suggesting that the Lord Jesus is God’s representative, and not just in part, for John 14 reveals to us that that representation is total and complete. He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. To have seen Him is to have seen the Father. That is the truth, and we need to accept it!

Continuing in John 1, we find that in verse 49, Nathanael testifies to the same truth concerning Him, declaring, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

In John 4:42, the Samaritans make another declaration concerning their faith in Jesus Christ, declaring to the woman,

“Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

This raises the issue of Christ as the Savior. What does this mean? Could the Lord be the Savior and not be God?

The answer to this question, I believe, can be found in the book of Titus. There, we have two very interesting statements back-to-back. First, in Titus 1:3, we read,

“but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.”

Here, we have a declaration that God is our Savior. Now, though, consider verse 4.

“To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Here, now, the Lord Jesus Christ is declared to be our Savior. Can it be that we have two Saviors? Might God be our Savior one day and Jesus Christ the next? Might one person be saved by Jesus Christ and another by God? No! There can only be one Savior. The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior means that He is God. There are not two Saviors. There is only one, and that One is Jesus Christ, Who is God Himself.

In John 5:16-18 we have our next evidence of the Lord’s deity. There, we read in response to the Lord’s healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda,

16. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.

But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 
18. Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Here we have Jesus claiming that God is His Father, and claiming equality with Him. The Jews understood this, recognizing it in His claims. Why do so many today have such a problem recognizing it?

Simon Peter makes the next declaration concerning the Lord that we should consider. He does so in John 6:69, where he expresses his faith by saying,

“Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Was Peter mistaken? Or did he realize the truth?

The next evidence we find is in Christ’s statement in John 8:58. There, the Jews question Him that He seems to speak as if He knew Moses. 

58. “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

He invokes the great name of God from the Old Testament, I AM, and claims to be that One Who is God.

In John 9:35-38 we have our next evidence. There, we have an interaction between the Lord Jesus and the blind man whom He had healed on the Sabbath Day.

35. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
36. He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 
37. And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”

38. Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

Here the response of the blind man reveals to us the truth, even if we cannot accept the clear words of the Lord Jesus. Modern textual criticism has suggested that the Lord actually said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” rather than “Son of God.” I find this unlikely considering the man’s response. Why would he worship the Son of Man? But whatever the Lord said, the blind man’s response indicates what he understood He meant: that He is equal with God Himself, and is worthy of worship. If the blind man was mistaken and Christ was at all a good man, He would have refused this worship and told him to direct it towards God alone. The fact that He accepted this worship shows us the truth.

The next clear evidence we have of the Godhood of Jesus Christ is found in John 10:31-33. 

30. “I and My Father are one.” 
31. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.

32. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” 
33. The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

The Lord Jesus claimed to be one with His Father. The Jews understood what He meant. He was making Himself to be God. If this was not what He meant, the Lord should have corrected them immediately. Instead, He went on to justify the idea of a man being God in verses 34-36. He was claiming to be God, just as they said!

The next person to testify to the truth about Jesus Christ is Martha, who said in John 11:27, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

We will skip over John 14:7-11, for we have already dealt with this passage above. In John 15:23, the Lord Jesus makes a very interesting statement. He says, “He who hates Me hates My Father also.” This passage makes it clear that one cannot claim to hate Jesus Christ and love God. The two are one, and cannot be separated. A similar passage is John 16:15. There, the Lord says, “All things that the Father has are Mine.” Again, they own the same things, and cannot be separated in what is Theirs. Jesus Christ is indeed God!

In John 18 we read of a manifestation of power that again proves the Lord Jesus’ equality with God. There, when faced by Judas the betrayer and the mob of soldiers that arrested Him, the following exchange occurs between them and the Lord:

4. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”

5. They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.

6. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

The unfortunate interpolation of the word “He” by the translators helps to hide the truth here. But the fact is that in the Greek texts, the Lord merely uttered the words “I Am,” that great name for God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14. And upon His utterance of these words, His enemies drew back and fell to the ground! I cannot believe that anything, even something they considered blasphemy, would have caused these men to fall helplessly to the ground before the Lord, especially Judas, who had already rejected Him and yet who knew His claims. This was nothing less than a display of His mighty power as God, in that just uttering His Own name was enough to throw these men, His enemies to the ground.

The Jews, his enemies, at His trial before Pilate revealed their knowledge of Whom the Lord claimed to be. In John 19:7 we read:

7. The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

The next great testimony to Who He was comes from Thomas, who is often called Doubting Thomas in Christian circles today, who, upon seeing the Lord after His resurrection, gave the following witness in John 20:28.

28. And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29. Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Thomas believed that Jesus Christ was both Lord and God, and the Lord Jesus commended him for his belief. If He had not been Lord and God, no such commendation would have been forthcoming, but rather rebuke. There can be no doubt but that the Lord Jesus received Thomas’ worship and accepted the title of God! This is John’s conclusion to his book, and the whole reason he wrote was so that we might believe it, as he sets forth in the next two verses.

30. And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;

31. but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

John wants each one of us to believe this truth about the Lord Jesus. That was why he wrote his book! And if we are to believe the truth in this book of John, we too must believe that Jesus Christ is indeed God, and worthy of our worship.

Let us return to your original question regarding worship and prayer to the Lord Jesus. I think I pointed out several instances where the Lord accepted worship. If there still remains any doubt, however, Philippians 2:9-11 should dispel it.

9. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

11. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

If that isn’t worship, I don’t know what is. Clearly, God wants us to worship the Lord Jesus.

Praying to Jesus is another matter. I know of no Biblical example of praying TO the Lord Jesus. The Lord prayed exclusively to His Father, for example in John 17. Requests were made of the Lord Jesus which could technically be called prayers, and were either granted or not granted by Him, for example in Mark 5. There, He granted the requests of the unclean spirits (verse 12) and the residents of the country (verse 17,) but refused to grant the request of the healed formerly-possessed man (verse 18.) We might call these requests “prayers,” and yet the Bible never does so. In the epistles, prayer is likewise connected with either God or the Father, for example, Colossians 1:3:

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

If we would follow the Biblical example, it seems to be that prayer is always connected with the Father. Yet we cannot forget the lesson of John 14:9, that “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” The Lord Jesus cannot be separated from His Father, as if they were two separate beings. If one has seen Him, it is the same as seeing the Father. Who characters in the Bible direct prayers to does not change this fact.