Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ascension: At the Right Hand of the Father


Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus the Messiah, whom God anointed to be Lord over all, ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father. Today is Ascension Sunday, on which the Church around the world celebrates that great redemptive truth. A simple search through the New Testament for the words “right hand” reveals the enormous significance of this event.
  • But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63-64)
  • “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22:68-69)
  • Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” (Acts 2:33-35)
  • The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:30-31)
  • But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56)
  • Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)
  • And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:19-21)
  • If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
  • Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:3)
  • But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? (Hebrews 1:13)
  • Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
  • There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. (1 Peter 3:21-22)
The ascension of the Lord Jesus connects to the messianic meaning of Psalm 110, which is often quoted in the New Testament concerning Him.
The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.
The LORD has sworn And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
The LORD is at Your right hand;
He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute the heads of many countries.
He shall drink of the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He shall lift up the head.
That day has already come and has already begun to be fulfilled. Jesus the Messiah has been seated at the right hand of the Father, far above all principality and power and might and dominion. “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). This work will be complete when King Jesus returns again at the end of history. Then the will of God will be done thoroughly and completely on earth as it is in heaven. “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24).

The Ascension of the Lord Jesus also has great significance for all who are His. Just as Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, those who belong to Him are seated at His own right hand. “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34). In Ephesians 1, Paul tells of Jesus’ enthronement at the Father’s right hand, but just a few verses later, in Ephesians 2, he speaks of what this means for all who trust in Him:
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
God has made us alive together with Christ, raised us up together with Him, made us sit together in the heavenlies with Him. The Greek verbs here are in the aorist tense, which signifies completed action. In other words, this is not merely future promise Paul is talking about, it is present reality. Ascension Sunday reminds us that not only has the Lord Jesus been seated at the right hand of the Father, but in a very real sense, all who belong to Him by faith have now been seated there with Him.