...Hebrews 2:12 tells me something even more profound. It tells me that while I'm praising God with the assembly--"in the presence of the congregation"--Jesus stands next to us, praising God alongside us. Jesus is perfecting our worship in that very moment, too. He's standing in our midst, singing, praying, and listening along, in real time, in real space. He's also declaring God's name to us, meaning He's encouraging us to worship, cheering us on. He's Prophet, Priest, King, and Cheerleader.
Nearly every Sunday now, as I lead worship, I have a kind of Braveheart experience. At the end of that movie, as Mel Gibson is being tortured on his death-table, he looks out into the mixed crowd of haters and sympathizers and suddenly fixates on a single figure, calmly moving through the crowd, eyes locked on his. It's his wife, who had died previously and awaits his arrival in the afterlife. It's a gripping scene. When I lead worship now, as I look out on the mixed crowd of hand-raised charismaniacs and bored stiff yawners, I envision my Lord walking among us, singing as He goes, praying as He goes, encouraging as He goes. I see Him declaring God's name to my brothers and sisters, and I hear Him singing God's praises amidst the congregation. And our broken, selfish, mucky, sinful praise becomes perfected praise, in that very moment.
The good news about our bad worship is that Jesus worships for us. He didn't just worship (past tense) for us, though that is remarkable enough. Fulfilling yet another glorious aspect of His High Priestly office, He worships (present tense), in real time, in our midst. And God the Father, through the power of the Spirit, sees Him...among us, through us, around us, and in us...and He loves it and revels in it.
What freeing news. This means that whether I had a good Sunday or bad Sunday, Jesus was there, making it the best Sunday, every time. Because of Jesus, God the Father loves my worship. This is the gospel, worship-style.