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. 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.
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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.
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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.