But of course it is not quite so simple. Our Lord is no country preacher but as a first century Jew was well acquainted the rituals and traditions of synagogue worship as well as the highly ritualized worship of the temple. What was this like? We do not have to guess. We know that worship of the synagogue worship was both formal and liturgical. The service followed set prayers and form and drew upon the readings established for the Jewish church year (which is where we got it from). Structured around seasons and feasts, the worship of the synagogue involved reverence and decorum toward God and toward the Word of God (Torah). The appointments of the synagogue were the finest the people could afford for nothing but the best was used in the service of the Lord.
Jesus also worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. The worship of the temple was anything but simple and plain. In this splendid and ornate building attested to both by the building plans given for Solomon to follow and in the reconstructions that follow, the most ornate and elaborate art and metal work was seen. We have a history of God making sure that the place where He was to be worshiped was sacred and looked like a temple befitting the Lord of all. The tabernacle, and both the Herodian and Solomonic temples in Jerusalem were splendid, ornate and rich buildings. What took place inside them was also elaborate, ceremonial, and ritualistic. Priests wore ornate vestments designed by God Himself. There were processions into and around the temple, ornate gilded images of angels around the worship space. Incense was burned before God to symbolize the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven and the pillar of smoke rising from the roof was visible to those all around the exterior of the building.
Would Jesus feel comfortable in the Divine Service here? Well, you take a gander at this list and tell me if Jesus would be put off by the liturgical order and its rich ceremonial tradition:
- Beautiful, rich, elaborate and ornate structure for the temple of God
- Priests in rich vestments whose every detail was set by God
- Set readings from the Old Testament
- the chanting of psalms
- the burning of incense
- an altar of sacrifice
- golden candlesticks
- the bread of the presence
- the holy of holies (the most sacred domain within the temple)
- the lamp of the presence
- processions of priests and people
- the offering of the holy sacrifice
- the laver or font for cleansing the offerings
- water fonts for ritual ablutions before entering worship
- beautiful fabrics, carvings, textile, and embroidery...