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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    May 24, 2020 | Ascension Sunday

    Sitting on God’s Right Hand
    Luke 24:44–53

     I T IS STILL Resurrection Sunday; Easter Sunday. It’s been a long day. Let’s review what’s gone on according to Luke’s Gospel.

    The women take spices to the tomb and find it empty. Two glowing men tell the women that Jesus is not there. He has risen! The women go tell the disciples what they have seen and heard. The disciples think it’s nonsense so they go and check things out. Sure enough, the tomb is empty. Peter doesn’t know what happened.

    Later that same day, a stranger shows up to walk along with two followers of Jesus headed home to Emmaus. They tell the stranger about Jesus — man of God, arrested, killed, buried. The stranger explains to them the Scriptures. The two invite him for a meal. At the meal the stranger becomes the host — takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to them. Their eyes are opened and they recognize him. He disappears. They hurry back to Jerusalem to tell the others what they have seen and heard.

    Jesus shows up, right then, right there, in front of everyone. They think he’s a ghost. But he assures them he is real and demonstrates his physicalness by eating a piece of fish.

    † † †

    NOW, WE’RE AT OUR READING for today. Jesus continues to teach them about fulfillment of the Scriptures. They finally understand what he’s talking about. He commissions them to be missionaries — teach and preach.

    But wait until they have been clothed with “power from above.” They all walk toward Bethany, Jesus blesses them. As he does that he leaves them and is taken into heaven. They worship him and return to Jerusalem with great joy. They continue going to the temple — praising God.

    “He ascends, goes up, to heaven” brings to mind the Apostles’ Creed:

    “He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

    † † †

    THAT BRINGS a humorous image to mind. Jesus sits on God’s right hand.

    What that means is that Jesus sits right beside God on God’s right. That is a position of power. The most important person other than the king always sat on the king’s right hand. Jesus is more important than any angel or any person who has ever lived. We will affirm the Creed later in our service. Be sure to pay attention to that section.

    Jesus sits at God’s right hand. A position of power and authority. Jesus is there right now. At the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Jesus going up to heaven firmly establishes him as the Lord and Messiah, exalted at God’s right hand in ways not merely physical.

    The Ascended Jesus sits at God’s side. This makes a difference in how we understand power.[1] Jesus was at the mercy of the same kind of political rulers that rule us and have always ruled the human race — men and women (mostly men) who can see justice clearly enough — until their own selfish interests are involved. But in the throne room of God, power is not in the hands of Pilate, but in the hands of our risen and ascended Lord. He, the innocent sufferer, the victim, the lamb that was slain — he has the real and ultimate power. Not at the end of time, but now, right now in the present. This is faith that gives us freedom in relation to political power, from the earliest days of the martyrs down through the Declaration of Barmen and the Confession of Belhar in our own time.

    † † †

    JESUS ASCENDING into heaven makes a difference in how we understand prayer.

    Christ, sitting at God’s right hand, makes intercession for us. This doesn’t mean Jesus is prayerfully begging God to free us, forgive us. This means Jesus takes our weak, poorly formed, infrequent, and inadequate prayers and incorporates them into his prayer for us before God. Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. He prayed in days of his flesh with loud cries and bloody sweat.

    He is not ashamed to call us sisters and brothers. He is in touch with the feelings of our infirmities, for he has been tempted in all respects as we are tempted, yet without sin. He, night and day, busies himself with his prayers for us and brings our weak prayer offerings into the ear of our loving Father.

    † † †

    AND FINALLY, Jesus ascending and sitting on God’s right hand makes a difference in how we understand God. Jesus carried our humanity into the throne room of God. God knows what it is like to be human!

    Jesus, our brother, ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Because of that we have a new understanding of power. We have an advocate in our praying. We have a God who knows our humanity.

    Thanks be to God.

    — Keith Cardwell   


    [1]These three points come from Albert Curry Winn, “Plain Talk About the Apostles’ Creed,” pp. 56–58.


    «Jesus takes our weak, poorly formed, infrequent, and inadequate prayers and incorporates them into his prayer for us before God.»

    SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:


    Luke 24:44–53
    Holy Bible, New International Version


    44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

    45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

    The Ascension of Jesus
    50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 
    51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


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    23208 Swift Church Road
    Foley, AL 36535
    Phone: (251) 943-8367
    email: swiftpc@gulftel.com