Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Father's Right-Hand Man (Sermon 7 on the Apostles' Creed)

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day, he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven...” That's where we've ventured so far, in our journey through the Apostles' Creed. But now, it's time to finish that sentence. “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” For weeks we've been talking in the past tense. Now, and only now, do we shift into the present tense. Jesus now is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Once Jesus has presented his offering of his laid-down life, once Jesus has been the priest sprinkling heaven with his own purity, once Jesus has taken in hand the plan, that's when Psalm 110 begins to kick in. Remember how that opens? “The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand...'” (Psalm 110:1). Sit where? On God's own throne, the highest throne in the highest heaven.

So let's start with that imagery: God's throne. We mentioned it in discussing the last article, but only in passing. Now it's time to go more into detail. The psalmists are very emphatic and repetitive in portraying God as being enthroned. Consider Psalm 47, where “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne” (Psalm 47:8). Consider Psalm 9, where “the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness” (Psalm 9:7-8). And specifically, they say that God's throne is in heaven. Consider Psalm 123, which addresses God as the One who is “enthroned in the heavens” (Psalm 123:1). Think also of Psalm 103, where “the LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:9). Consider even Psalm 33, where “the LORD looks down from heaven... from where he sits enthroned...” (Psalm 33:13-14). Isaiah will even identify God's throne with heaven itself: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). Jesus follows the same line of thinking when he says, in his Sermon on the Mount, that “heaven... is the throne of God” (Matthew 5:34).

So why do we make a connection between Jesus and this throne? Well, it starts with his own words. When he was placed on trial the night before his crucifixion, he told his accusers that they would eventually “see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power” (Mark 14:62). Then, at Pentecost, the Apostle Peter announced that Jesus had by then been “exalted at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). Later, when Peter and the other apostles were themselves being interrogated by the Jewish high priest Caiaphas and the whole Sanhedrin that “God exalted [Jesus] at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins, and we are witnesses to these things...” (Acts 5:31-32). The Apostle Paul likewise declares that God “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20), and that “Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). The author of Hebrews insists that “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12), and so he now “is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 8:1). Later Christian writings envision that Jesus “ascended into the seventh heaven, and all the righteous and all the angels praised him, and then... he sat down at the right hand of that Great Glory” (Ascension of Isaiah 11.32). The ascended Jesus himself even told John, “I myself have received authority from my Father” (Revelation 2:27), and “I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21). So it isn't just one part of the New Testament that says it. They all agree!

Jesus, Peter, Paul, the writer to the Hebrews, and others all use that same phrase 'at the right hand.' They get it, we already saw, from Psalm 110. But why the right hand? Now, of course, God the Father does not literally have a right hand, or a body at all. God existed before heaven and earth – he made them. He existed before time and space – he made those, too. And there can be no such thing as a body unless first there's space. So God the Father, who never became incarnate, does not literally have a tangible body or a shape. It's why Moses can stress so heavily that when God spoke to Israel out of the fire, “you saw no form” (Deuteronomy 4:15). Yet the Bible is constantly talking about him as if he does. These are called anthropomorphisms. They describe a non-human reality in terms that we humans, who do have shapes and bodies, can more easily get our minds around and understand. So, for instance, David says of God that “smoke went up from his nostrils and devouring fire from his mouth” (Psalm 18:8). Another psalmist talks about God's “wings” (Psalm 91:4).

You can't measure God's size. You can't take God's temperature with a thermometer. But for our sake, God can describe himself in ways we can understand, and can manifest himself as though he were a body in the universe like we are. But since God doesn't literally have a body, he doesn't literally have a right hand. Saying that God has a right hand is a symbol. What does it symbolize? What does it mean? For that, we have to reflect on how the Bible, inspired by God, uses 'right hand' language to talk about God – and that language is based on the way people talked about their right hands to begin with.

So, first of all, to be at someone's 'right hand' was to be positioned in the place they honor the most. In ancient royal courts, the vicinity of the king's 'right hand' was the position reserved for his most trusted official, for the executive officer of the kingdom. Projecting that idea upward, we have religious writings from the Canaanites that talk about one god being given a throne at the right hand of another one (KTU 1.4 V 46-47). And that sort of talk should make sense to us. Still today, we speak of a person's closest ally and most trusted assistant and helper being his “right-hand man,” don't we?

And God's right hand is a particularly good place to be, according to the psalmists. Think of all the different contexts in which they mention God's 'right hand'! The author of Psalm 108 prays, “Give salvation by your right hand” (Psalm 108:6). The author of Psalm 21 says to God, “Your right hand will find out those who hate you” (Psalm 21:8). So God's right hand signifies his activity in the world, to deliver and rescue his faithful ones and to punish and afflict those who threaten his faithful ones or the moral order. The author of Psalm 17 cries out to God as the “Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand” (Psalm 17:7). So God's right hand signifies his protection and security. The author of Psalm 16 says to God, “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). So God's right hand signifies the delightful rewards with which he honors those he delights in.

So to say that Jesus has ascended into heaven and been placed at God's right hand, we're saying that he's been exalted to a position of high honor. We're saying that he's been accorded the most supreme and excellent status there is. We're saying that he has absolute security – he's untouchable. We're saying that he's enjoying absolute delight and joy, a bliss that the sublimest pleasures of this life cannot even begin to compare with. We're saying that he's in the position of God's activity, even that he is the agent of salvation and justice through whom God acts in the world in all that he does.

Before going to the cross, Jesus had prayed at the Last Supper, “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5). And so what we're saying when we confess this line in the Apostles' Creed is that God the Father has completely and totally answered his Son's prayer, giving his Son exactly what he asked for. We're told that Jesus was “taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16), and that Jesus is now “crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:9). “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the Name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). God placed Jesus “above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the age to come” (Ephesians 1:21).

What name is that? The unique name of God himself: Yahweh. There's no name in all creation that can match that name. It carries a holiness and gravity and glory that outweighs the entire universe. “All the nations that you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” (Psalm 86:9). “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of Yahweh is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3). “Let them praise the name of Yahweh, for his name alone is exalted” (Psalm 148:13). “Give glory to the name of Yahweh” (Isaiah 24:15). “There is none like you, O Yahweh: you are great, and your name is great in might” (Jeremiah 10:6). It isn't for no reason that properly treating God's name is one of the Ten Commandments. And Jesus wears that very name – it is now publicly declared to refer to Jesus just as much as to his Father or his Spirit. And that is a public declaration that Jesus is worthy of worship and all honor, all respect, all service.

It also entails the right to rule. After all, if Jesus is being seated on a throne, in fact seated on God's throne as God, it makes total sense that he isn't just sittin' pretty there! He's got authority. He's ruling. He's reigning. We can find testimony to that in the Old Testament, of course. The psalmist of Psalm 72 prays for the “royal son” to have worldwide dominion, and asks, “May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him” (Psalm 72:11). Daniel likewise saw that to the Son of Man “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples and nations and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom is one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). So there's nowhere on earth that is exempt from Jesus' permanent rule and reign – all nations, all peoples, will always live under his dominion.

And the New Testament agrees. So the Apostle Peter, as one example, tells us in 1 Peter 3:22 that Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” Think about that! By being positioned at the right hand of God, even angels and other heavenly beings are all ranked beneath Jesus on the organizational chart of reality. And the Apostle Paul agrees. He writes in Ephesians 1:20-21 about how Jesus is now “enthroned at God's right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.” Jesus is above every ruler. Jesus is above everyone who wields authority. Jesus is mightier than the sum total of all other power. Jesus is Lord in every dominion. There is no domain in which Jesus isn't chief. That's what God his Father has bestowed upon Jesus as his birthright.

In fact, the exalted Jesus has transcended all limitation. Paul tells us, in Ephesians 1:23, that Jesus is now “him who fills all in all.” Paul adds, in Ephesians 4:10, that Jesus ascended for a purpose: so “that he might fill all things.” What does that mean? Well, we have to understand that when Jesus became incarnate, he accepted a number of limitations. Paul tells us elsewhere, in that great passage from Philippians 2, that Jesus had “emptied himself by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7). That does not mean that Jesus ceased to be God. That would be impossible. Jesus is God, and he never stopped being God. Nor does it mean that Jesus lost any of the defining characteristics of God. But it does mean that Jesus set aside the display of his glory. It means that Jesus refrained from fully exercising his divine power. It means that Jesus took on an even more subordinate role, refusing full enjoyment of his divine prerogatives. It means that Jesus accepted the range of customary needs and limitations that come with having a human body. A human body does not fill all things. It's confined to a place. It's dependent on material circumstances.

But, as the Church Fathers might have said, now with this exaltation, even Jesus' flesh, even Jesus' body, is in some way 'divinized' or 'deified' – that attributes of God now carry over even to the fleshly body of Jesus. What this means is that any limitation resulting from Jesus' early self-emptying when he came down to be conceived in Mary's womb – that limitation is done away with, is reversed. Jesus has not given up the incarnation. He remains a man. He remains Jesus. But he has resumed the full display of divine glory and full exercise of divine power and full enjoyment of divine prerogatives. His presence fills everything. His presence encompasses all the heavens and the earth. All the universe is a bubble in the infinite sea that is Jesus!

This is no doubt the appropriate point to turn back to Revelation. Now remember, when John first starts to see God's throne room in Revelation 4, Jesus isn't there. It's only in the next chapter that suddenly John sees “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6). Through all the symbolism, we understand that what John is seeing is the scene when Jesus entered into heaven. Suddenly, there he is, standing in front of God's throne. He's approached. He's done all those other things. He's a sacrificial Lamb, but he's standing, because he is risen from the dead. And what happens? Jesus “went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne” (Revelation 5:7). What scroll? Well, John saw God holding “a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1). Again, this is a symbol for God's secret plan for all of history – which couldn't move forward without someone authorized and able to break it open and implement it.

And that's what Jesus does. I'd suggest that this is John's visionary way of describing what it means that Jesus has sat down on God's throne. Jesus has taken in hand the authority to move things along. And what follows throughout Revelation is exactly that. As Jesus breaks open the seals, judgments begin to spread throughout the earth, recurring over the course of the thousands of years it's been and however long it's going to be yet until the scroll reaches its conclusion. The point John is making, though, is that Jesus is the one breaking the seals. Jesus is the one who has the authority to turn the page. History in itself doesn't have progress, but Jesus makes it move, in his own mysterious way. That's Jesus' doing, because Jesus is in charge.

Now, Paul tells us that God “put all things under [Jesus'] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). Hebrews adds that, “in putting everything in subjection to him,” to Jesus, God “left nothing outside his control.” Everything that there is has been placed in Jesus' control. But we have to admit that, “at present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Hebrews 2:8). Pointless though it may be, the world still tries to resist, still tries to run itself as if Jesus weren't in charge, as if Jesus weren't in command. And so what is Jesus doing now? He's waiting. He's waiting for the world to be pacified. He's waiting for the world to tire itself out. He's giving the world every chance to come to its senses. And then he will act by force. The Father had said to him, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” (Psalm 110:1). And so Paul tells us that Jesus “must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). Hebrews says that, ever since he ascended and was exalted to the throne of God, Jesus has been “waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Hebrews 10:13). For now... Jesus waits.

So what does this teaching mean? Why does the session matter? Let's dive in. The first thing I'd like to point out is that the enthronement of Jesus has a major role in our salvation. And to get a handle on this, let's turn to Psalm 80. Along with Isaiah 5, these are two Old Testament passages we really ought to know better if we're fans of John 15. In John 15, Jesus calls himself God's Vine and calls his disciples, including us, his branches who need to abide in him in order to live. But why did Jesus pick that picture, why a vine? Because of these two chapters from the Old Testament, which present Israel as a vine or a vineyard. The eightieth psalm seems to be written in a time when Israel is in trouble, maybe specifically in the north. Here, God is called “the Shepherd of Israel” and said to “lead Joseph like a flock” (Psalm 80:1), and the psalmist will ask God to rescue “Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,” all northern tribes (Psalm 80:2). And these tribes are in trouble, eating “the bread of tears” and drinking tears (Psalm 80:5), finding their prayers unanswered (Psalm 80:4), mocked by their neighbors (Psalm 80:6). Over and over again, a responding choir calls out, “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:7; see also verses 3 and 19).

The center section of the psalm introduces the picture of Israel as a vine: “You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it; you cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. It sent out its branches to the Sea and its shoots to the River” (Psalm 80:8-11). In other words, in Israel entering the Promised Land, this vine was planted and became great, as Israel became an influential power, a light to the nations. But for the psalmist, his present reality has become an aberration: “Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it” (Psalm 80:12-13). In other words, Israel has become vulnerable to attack, in ways that jeopardize God's work. “They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down” (Psalm 80:16).

So, the psalmist calls out, “look down from heaven and see: have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself” (Psalm 80:14-15). It was God's right hand, his active strength, that cleared the way and planted Israel in their holy land. And God also gave strength to King David, who received the title 'son of God.' “But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name!” (Psalm 80:17-18). If God favors the king and lets him mount a successful defense of Israel, then the Israelites promise to be faithful this time around – the wake-up call will have been enough.

But what does that mean for us today? Well, note the choice to refer to the king here as “the son of man whom [God has] made strong for [him]self.” In the Church's bigger perspective, we can see that Jesus is the true Son of Man whom the Father has made strong for himself. It's King Jesus, as the greater heir of David, who is charged to be the defender of his people. And in praying for salvation, the psalmist asks God to support this Son of Man and save through him. And in particular, this Son of Man is also “the man of [God's] right hand.” That's the position to which Jesus has returned in his session, in his exaltation. He is the king enthroned at God's right hand, not just in an earthly Zion, but in the heavenly Zion, at the very throne of God on high. And it is precisely in that capacity that he can give salvation! Jesus is our Savior because he is the man at God's right hand. And because God seated him there and strengthens him, there is hope for God's devastated creation to repent and be restored. Picking up on this, one second-century Christian wrote that it's because Jesus “sits at the right hand of the Father” that he therefore “has the power to save all things.”1 That includes us! If you're glad to have a Savior, if you're glad that the world has a Savior, if you're glad that there's a King who can stand up to the beasts in the world and defend all things that are good, then you're glad that Jesus is at God's right hand!

Second, the session means something incredible about you. What are you? What species of thing are you? You – I at least assume – are a human being. That is very specific, because there are a lot of kinds of things out there that are not human. And there is no non-human created nature that has been placed on God's throne. Did God ever elevate an angel to his very own throne? Hebrews is very clear that the answer is no! “To which of the angels has he ever said, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet'? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14). No angel nature has ever been seated on God's throne. No cherubic nature or seraphic nature can find a place there. You will also never get to heaven and see a Martian sitting on God's throne. No Martian has been given that status and authority and dignity. Nor will you find a robot or computer on God's throne. Computers have not been put in that position. Robots do not run the universe. You will not find a dog or a cat or a chimpanzee or a horse on God's throne. Their various animal natures are not there. None of these will you find there.

But Jesus is the Son of Man. Jesus is human. A real human person has been seated on the throne. It is human nature that has been placed at the helm, not merely of governing the earth, but of governing the universe, from the nearest microbes to the farthest galactic superclusters. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). “You have given him dominion over all the works of your hands, you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6). When Jesus was exalted, our dignity became vast. Think about it. All of heaven, all the rest of the aware universe, can look at you, and the thought they'll have is, “Hey, wow, you're the same species as the Boss Man!” You are the same species as the One who rules all things – the One at the highest place, the One who is most supreme. You are linked in a common nature to the Lord on the throne that rules over all! And since never can he be dethroned, never can human nature be dethroned! To be human is not to be an unworthy wretch. To be human is to be the most incredible thing in creation. Even the angels can have only a healthy sense of awe at human nature because human nature is exalted to the throne in Jesus Christ. How can any of us look down on being human, when being human is to bear family resemblance to the Enthroned Lord? Take heart, all human beings, and live into Jesus!

Third, the session is vital for us because it's the precondition for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Now, it will be a couple more weeks before we get to treating the Holy Spirit as his own topic – he has his own line in this Apostles' Creed, after all. But safe to say that having the Holy Spirit poured out on us is a positive thing. It was very important for the Holy Spirit to be poured out. Isaiah reminds us that when “the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,” then “the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever” (Isaiah 32:15-17). That sounds just so good, such a relief. But it only happens when the Spirit is first poured out.

Now, what does the session have to do with that? Well, the Apostle Peter is very explicit that the Holy Spirit would not have been poured out except by Jesus exalted to God's throne. On Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was in fact poured out, Peter announced, “Being exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33). Jesus, publicly displayed as God, does what God always said he'd do: pour out the Spirit from heaven. Peter is clear that it required the exaltation of Jesus before he could do this. Jesus said that he would “send to you” the Holy Spirit “from the Father” (John 15:26). Everything we enjoy through having the Holy Spirit poured out, it's only possible because Jesus is exalted at God's right hand, enthroned on high, to do it.

Fourth, the session means that Jesus Christ is supreme over history. Jesus Christ was supreme during the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Jesus Christ was supreme during the coronation of Charlemagne. Jesus Christ was supreme during the Black Death. Jesus Christ was supreme during the Reformation. Jesus Christ was supreme during the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. Jesus Christ was supreme through civil wars and world wars and cold wars. That does not mean that he approves of the horrific acts of man and nature. That does not mean that he sat idly by. Rather, for every disaster that has taken place in the past two thousand years, Jesus has personally mitigated it to be no harsher than is required by his overall plan. What we meant for evil, he steered toward redeemability. He always does. His fingerprints are all over the pages of each and every history book.

And that is incredibly important, especially now. So often today, we hear the slogan bandied about: “We're on the right side of history, you're on the wrong side of history.” The idea is that history is a natural direction, its own force, that carries things onward toward certain goals – which just so happen to be the goals desired by one or another faction in culture today. But the truth is a lot different. History is not a power. History is not its own force. History has no natural direction. It is steered, and not along a straight line, by the hand of Jesus. All our prognistications of where it's heading are based on present inertia and momentum. But Jesus has many tricks up his sleeves. Ascendant trends will fall. Supposedly outdated traditions will be the way of the future. And when history pulls into the station, it'll find itself at the foot of Christ's throne. If history is written by the winners, there's no bigger winner than the enthroned King of Kings. He will write the final verdict on human history and on cosmic history. He, as the Faithful and True Witness, will set the record straight once and for all. And there will be no further revision, no alternate telling, no subversive perspective.

Fifth, the session means that Jesus Christ is supreme over all trials and tribulations here and now. Just as Jesus was supreme through all of history's travails in the past, so Jesus is supreme even now. Jesus is on the throne, and the coronavirus is not. Jesus is on the throne, and cancer is not. Jesus is on the throne, and debt is not. Jesus is on the throne, and dementia is not. None of these things can rule your life. They can afflict severely. They can test. They can refine. They can provide opportunities for sanctification. But they cannot rule. They cannot set up their throne over you. To hold fast to Jesus Christ is to have a guarantee that there will be a day on the other side of them. Because their dominion extends only so long as he allows.

Sixth, the session means that Jesus Christ is supreme over all politics. Alexander the Great ruled vast swaths of the world, but he sat on a throne not nearly so high as Jesus'. No Roman emperor sat on a throne so high. No European monarch sat so high. And neither does any American president, or indeed, the entire constitutional regime. You may have your opinions about politics. You may be excited, you may be relieved, you may be unnerved, you may be disgusted, you may be apathetic about one or another president, or representative, or senator, or judge. But there is a banner that's higher than the American flag, and that's the cross. There's a truth that's higher than the constitution, and it's the resurrection. There's a polity that's grander than the United States of America, and it's the heavenly kingdom. There's a throne that's higher than any political office to which any man or woman can be elected or appointed – and it's higher than the voters, too. And that throne has Jesus seated on it. He is supreme over politics. Politicians and other mortal power-brokers can do things that he, for his purposes, allows. But they cannot rule in their own right. Their authority is predicated on Jesus being enthroned above them. If any political office-holder forgets that, they'll regret it. If any voter forgets that, they too will regret it. Presidential terms come and go. They matter – but only relatively, insofar as they impede or aid the church's work and human flourishing. But Jesus is King forever. King Jesus tells us to submit to those who sit on little thrones under his, because he authorizes them. Submit to the courts, submit to the laws, submit to the governor, submit to the president. We do it because in doing that, we obey Jesus. That submission is just never allowed to lead us into disobedience to the High King of Heaven. There, and only there, do we draw the line. There, where worldly powers think they can master us, there we inform them that we already have a Master. Because Jesus is on the throne.

Seventh, the session is the template for Christ's big offer for us. This same enthroned Jesus Christ extends you an invitation. As we discussed before, in spirit, by faith, you are already hidden with Christ in God, if you abide in him. In fact, Paul says, God “seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7). And “if we endure, we will also reign with him” (1 Timothy 2:12). Think about that! The goal of Jesus being enthroned in highest heaven is for you to also find a seat there – not on God's throne, of course, but as part of his government. If we overcome through faithful living in the face of temptation and hardship now, Jesus declares, “To the one who overcomes, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21). Is there any hope greater than that?

So confess with joy: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty!” Even this, he did for you. There he watches for you, there he prays for you, there he rules for you, there he waits for you. Glory to Jesus, the High King of Heaven! Until next time: Amen.

1 Melito of Sardis, On the Passover 104

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