John Sielski gives us a view of what “true worship” is. This is a great word to read, then ponder what we ourselves think is true worship, and how Jesus, our ultimate example, fully showed us what it means to worship with our lives. You’ll have to read on for more.
Worship is not only an attitude, but also a matter of the heart. It is the spirit of awe, reverence and respect toward God, His thoughts and His ways. It is far more than simply just a song, and can’t be defined by or confined to a specific timeframe that occurs within the framework of a church service or meeting. If this is our perception of worship, then both it and we need to change!
Worship, true worship, is the total laying down of the “self-life” and its pursuits in order to embrace the thoughts and ways of Another considered to be held in much higher regard and a greater place of pre-eminence, and with much more esteem. Worship is the lifestyle of living with a heart whose knee is bent in the presence of God, and whose ears and eyes are open to hear His voice and capture the vision of who He is. Our depth of worship will never supersede our depth of revelation. One is the product of the other. Our depth of revelation will never go beyond our degree of obedience.
With this in mind, it is a strange thing—how the mother of Zebedee’s children approaches Jesus with her “special interest request” on behalf of her two sons, James and John—aka “the sons of thunder.” Oh, are they ever about to make some noise of their own amongst the chosen twelve!
Matthew 20:20 (KJV)
Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him.
Worshipping God is not about what we desire from Him, but our desiring Him. Worshipping God is not about what we can get from Him or our being able to get it from Him. Worshipping God is about our craving Him for Who He is, and seeing Him for Who He is, and wanting Him back—in the same way that He wants us. It has nothing to do with what we feel we can get Him to do for us, because it is our supernatural response to His love for us.
Jesus’ Kingdom is Not Like Any Earthly Kingdom in How it Operates
As the mother of Zebedee’s children is soon to find out, whenever we have any “self” intertwined within our worship, our worship will always become twisted and distorted and thereby alter our perception concerning Who God is in reality. This then justifies our pursuit of the very “things” for which we feel we have a right to petition Him, which amount to nothing more than “self”-ish idols of power and/or position we feel God owes us. Any and all hopes of a future guarantee of “self”-preservation must be laid to rest if our true passion is to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection and be found in Him, having the kind of righteousness that only His grace can give! Notice her petition and Jesus’ response.
Matthew 20:21-28 (KJV)
And He said unto her, “What wilt thou?” She saith unto Him, “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy Kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They say unto Him, “We are able.”
And He saith unto them, “Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Or, in other words, Jesus is saying, “You don’t even have a clue concerning what you are asking Me!” You see, James’ and John’s father, Zebedee, was a person of prominence, although “just a fisherman.” He owned at least two boats and had hired servants, so the fishing business had been pretty good to ole’ Zebedee. Zebedee’s name means “abundant” and “portion.” So, this is a man whose family and business are not hurting by any means.
“Mama Zebedee,” considered by many to be Salome, simply wants to insure that her two boys aren’t getting “the raw end of the deal” in leaving their father in the boat with the hired help in order to pursue the “crazy Prophet of Nazareth.” Incidentally, Salome’s name means “peaceable; perfect; and he that rewards.” Interestingly enough, and true to her own name’s sake, she is out to find what the rewards will be for her sons becoming Jesus’ disciples. She is looking for peace through perfect understanding. Her boys’ best interests are at heart; but what she doesn’t quite understand is that, although she means well, Jesus’ Kingdom is not going to be like any earthly kingdom in how it operates, as well as in the driving force behind it (notice vv. 25-28 above).
Total Identifying of One’s Self with God’s Interests Alone
So, what does Jesus signify in His response to Salome’s “worship” and “peculiar petition”? Let’s fast-forward just a few days to the site of Golgotha, the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Matthew 27:27-31, 35-38, 55-56 (KJV)
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him…
And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, “They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots.” And sitting down they watched Him there; and set up over His head His accusation written, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and another on the left…
And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
Remember Salome’s original request? That her two sons would be able to sit, one on Jesus’ right hand and the other on His left, in His Kingdom? As she stood there near Calvary, watching from afar, we can only imagine the absolute shock of horror and amazement that dawns upon her understanding as she beholds the King “sitting in His Kingdom,” wearing His “crown” as every king does, with one man “sitting” on His right hand, and another on His left.
Oh, how elated she must have felt to know that these were not her own two boys! After all, where would we be today without the voices and influence of “the sons of thunder” in the days following this scene? The mother of Zebedee’s children had a true revelation of worship that day, indeed! She discovered that it is the total identifying of one’s self with God’s interests in others, and God’s interests alone! That this is the place where “self” is completely sacrificed and put to death, so that the fullness of the True Life may be discovered—this is worship!
Today’s Voice Christian Fellowship
John and Kelly Sielski reside just outside of Reading, Pennsylvania. They are called together by God as a prophetic voice to the nations. They have been the pastors of Today’s Voice Christian Fellowship for the past ten years. Their desire and ministry focus are simply to reconnect the hearts of people back to the love of the Father’s heart. As a guitarist, John also writes songs that are complimentary to the love message they share. For nearly two years, John and Kelly have been publishing “Today’s Voice”—a daily prophetic word and teaching via the internet.