Coop's Column - He Sits at God's Right Hand

That Jesus is now enthroned became a central and glad part of the earliest Christian testimony, and it formed the basis for their heady and unshakable confidence in life and death.

Two little girls, paging through a picture book of the kings and queens of England, came upon a portrait of Queen Victoria. There sat the unsmiling monarch upon her throne, erect, regally attired, and thoroughly proper in every way.  Said the one little girl to the other: “That’s the Queen. But what’s she doing?”The other replied, with a hint of knowing scorn: “Doing? She ain’t doing anything. She’s just reigning!”

Forty days after he rose in victory over death, Jesus ascended and returned to heaven, and there took his seat of honor. In the words of the Apostles’ Creed, he is now “seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” And he’s doing something! From that throne of honor and authority he’s ruling over all of heaven and earth.

That Jesus is now enthroned became a central and glad part of the earliest Christian testimony, and it formed the basis for their heady and unshakable confidence in life and death. No fewer than 33 times throughout the New Testament—in the Gospels (Matt. 22:44; Mark 14:62), in the early sermons in Acts (2:33-35; 7:55-56), in Paul’s epistles (Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20-22), in the book of Hebrews (1:3; 13; 8:1; 10:12-13), and in the book of Revelation (chap. 4-5), to cite but a few—these early believers affirmed their Lord’s now exalted status.

With Jesus’ victorious enthronement an accomplished reality, his enemies now have an altered position and status. They are vanquished and “underneath his feet.” Jesus’ ascension and session at the Father’s right hand have put them in their rightful place: the Lord now uses them as his “footstool” (Ps. 110:1;  Acts 2:33-35).

In biblical times, the land over which a victorious conqueror trod—the territory over which he strode triumphantly—by rights came to belong to him. It was under his sovereign sway and authority (cf. Josh. 10:24). In similar fashion, his enemies once and for all subdued, Jesus has taken his seat of honor “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:20-21). From that exalted position he is already bringing the benefits of his saving conquest to his people.

The biblical metaphor of “under the feet” also connotes the act of humiliating the enemy. To hold the enemy under foot—to tromp on him—was to shame him (cf. Ps. 47:3). In the New Testament context, Jesus, the ascended and triumphant Lord, has now dethroned the principalities and powers. Holding them under his feet, he shames and mocks them.

How different the status and the mood of those who, as Jesus’ friends, gladly yield to him as ruling Sovereign. Yes, as their seated Lord, he is over them; and yes, as his subjects, they are under him. But there they feel safe—and free, too. No need for them to feel defeated or distressed, shamed or anxious. No need to go at life with grim seriousness or fearful concern. For saints know that, from his exalted throne, Jesus, their Sovereign Savior, is directing the course of history to its appointed end.

The earliest Christians worshiped Jesus for his triumphal enthronement. Fittingly, they bowed low and fell at his feet. How could they do otherwise? After all, the entire company of heaven’s angels and saints—even the Heavenly Father himself—had saluted Jesus as he made his grand entrance and seated himself at God’s right hand. How then could saints on earth fail to join their hearts and voices, and give their Lord his due acclaim and honor?

Heaven’s everlasting choirs and earth’s saints keep calling us to join them in acclaiming our now-enthroned Savior.

Prayer

Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore. Rejoice, give thanks and sing and triumph evermore. Lift up your heart, lift up your voice. Rejoice, again I say, rejoice! He sits at God’s right hand till all his foes submit, bow down at his command, and fall beneath his feet. Lift up your heart, lift up your voice. Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

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