The Right Hand Of The Father
May 5, 2018 Pastor: Rev. Lloyd Gross
Verse: Acts 5:30–31
Ascension THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER Acts 5:30-31
The Apostles' Creed puts it this way: He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. The Nicene Creed is briefer, stating: and sitteth at the right hand of the Father. Either way these are strange words for our time. We do not live in an age of heroes. But the Apostles in the 5th chapter of Acts called Jesus the Hero and Savior. The word, "Hero" usually meant the founding father of a city. When the Apostles added "Savior" to it they impress on us that Jesus is not just a past Hero, but fights for us forever. That's why He needed witnesses to His Ascension. He could have just vanished from sight. Instead He drove home the point that He was going to heaven as a man, visibly, ending forever His work as the Suffering Servant. Jesus was not going to heaven to rest, but to rule. He was going far higher than the angels, to that mysterious place we call, "the right hand of the Father." To us He remains our Prophet, Priest, and King.
What would happen to the Church if there were no Prophet? All their days the disciples had left the big decisions to Jesus. So before He left them He showed them many infallible proofs that He was risen from the dead. He knew people would say that the Ascension was a convenient way of explaining the absence of the supposedly alive Jesus. So for forty days He remained visible and tangible among them. Nor were the forty days just for that generation. All is not the same as it was. The Church is divided. People follow false teachers. The sheep follow their own imaginations rather than Jesus' clear words. Jesus must always remain the sole Teacher of the Church. Ministers can be His instruments as long as they bind themselves to the infallible teachings of the Bible interpreted according to the Rule of Faith. Ministers must never speculate, never offer nostrums for social "improvement," and above all never claim the Holy Spirit told them some nutty thing or another. We hear our Prophet today through the Divine Word.
Nor would Jesus cast us adrift without a Priest. You can imagine the confusion 2000 years ago when the disciples realized that the time for animal sacrifices had come to an end. How were they to worship now? First, the Lord assured them that His sacrifice was all-sufficient, that He had offered it for them, once and for all. Then, He told them to partake of it through Holy Communion. Finally, He promised that He would intercede for them in heaven. Jesus kept all the priestly functions after His Ascension. He fulfilled what Job had said long ago, Even now my witness is in heaven, and He that vouches for me lives on high.
Jesus is unique in that He is truly risen from the dead. His blood atones for our sins. We must not pray to the dead for they cannot hear us. No matter how exemplary the saints might have lived, they have neither the right nor the power to help us now. But Jesus can. Because of the world we live in, we have to be skeptical about many things. But the intercession of Jesus is not one of them. Don't tame it down by saying that He intercedes by giving us a good example. St. Paul tells us in Romans 8:34, It is Christ Jesus who died, yea, who was raised again, who is at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us. He can and will hear our prayers. The daughter of Jairus, the widow's son, and Lazarus were all raised from the dead by Jesus, but they died again and are dead now. Jesus lives on.
Nor would Jesus leave us without a King. We are surrounded by human enemies too numerous to mention, besides the evil angels and powers of darkness who seek to overwhelm us. But our Leader and Deliverer is in complete control of the situation. A millennium before Jesus David had prophesied: The Lord said to my Lord sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool. The Lord send forth from Zion your mighty scepter; rule in the midst of your foes. In the first instance, this refers to Christ's rule from the cross. That is phase I. There is also a phase II in which His enemies are held down under His feet. The Lamb takes away the sin of the world; then the Lion destroys God's enemies. Hear what St. Paul writes in Ephesians 1: He raised Him from the dead and made Him sit at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above every principality and power, and over every name that is named … and has put all things under His feet, and made Him the Head over all things for the sake of the Church. There you have it. From the right hand of God Jesus looks at us and rules in our interest. No matter what may happen to us - and understand bad things can happen to us - do not be afraid, because our Lord is still in power. He cannot lose His power. So when Stephen, the first of the martyrs, lay dying from the stoning, Jesus strengthened him with a vision. When Stephen saw that, he knew all was well, his death was part of God's plan, so he departed in peace. Jesus is our King, too. We must remain confident that He is ruling over all things for the best, even if it looks painful from our earthly perspective.
Dying may be awkward when we look at it from this side. So view it with Christ's eyes, and see it as the entry way to eternal peace. Jesus may have something for us to do here. We really know very little about how we will occupy ourselves in the next life. What He does promise is no more misery, no more conflict, no more not being able to make ends meet, no more people laughing at us, scolding us, and no more guilt. Our Lord Jesus is the King of Glory, the Great Physician who will put an end to all disease, the great Counselor who will settle all contention, the Great Teacher who will end all doctrinal controversies, the Architect who will build the heavenly mansions which will never collapse. He fills heaven and earth from the right hand of the Father. We will always be in His presence, and that constitutes paradise. AMEN.