Text: Isaiah 28:1-29, Isaiah 29:1-24, Revelation 5:1-14
“We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
Yeah, I was a kid in the 90s. Anybody else remember imitating Wayne and Garth to declare your unworthiness over things like Nintendo skills, Lisa Frank sticker collections, or Air Jordans? My assessment of worthiness is different now, but I’m still inclined to assess things by my arbitrary categories of value. I am not immune to questioning my own worthiness in the face of a really lovely turn of phrase or a well-managed garden.
But is my worthiness the relevant question? It surely seems to be the contemporary question, one Paul clearly answered for us in Romans, long before we ever started trying to compete for Instagram likes.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
- Romans 3:23
It’s almost a relief, really; the playing field is leveled and we have all fallen short. And it answers the question of human worthiness: Which of us is worthy? Not a one.
So what are the qualifications for worthiness? God’s people were waiting for someone who was worthy. And their list of qualifications was far more than a wink and a well-executed somersault.
He was to be both the root and the stem of David (Isaiah 9:7, Luke 1:30-32). He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:27-28, 31) and God’s Spirit would rest on Him (Isaiah 11:2, Mark 1:10). He would be both the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) and the Lamb who would be slain (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24).
All that, and yet the list was still completely simple: He had to be the Son of God (Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 2:6-7). He alone is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, worthy to bring salvation and bring justice (Revelation 5:1-14).
But His worthiness doesn’t end there. He is to receive all the riches of heaven and earth—all material things, all praise, all everything belongs to Him alone. Suddenly the complicated question becomes simple again.
Dutch journalist, statesman, and theologian Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” That about says it all. Christ is worthy, and all honor is due to Him.
This simplifies my plaguing difficulties in wondering where I sit in the pecking order. It eliminates the question of “who deserves this more?” And frankly, it resolves my need to be celebrated by the world. When I turn my eyes from myself and point my compass to the True North, Christ Himself, I cease scrambling for a place at the table because I find myself at rest, pointing to the One who is truly worthy.
Because of Christ, we can join with the angels and the archangels and the whole company of heaven and sing a new song:
You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because You were slaughtered,
and You redeemed people
for God by Your blood
from every tribe and language
and people and nation.
You made them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they will reign on the earth.