AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
Scripture Reading: Mark 16:13-19
These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
In today's passage, gospel writer Mark describes Jesus as being taken up into heaven and sitting at God's right hand. Now, Mark couldn't have seen where Jesus sat when he went to heaven, so how does he say it was at God's right hand? Well, because Jesus declared it several times. On one occasion, in response to the Pharisees asking him if he was the Messiah, Jesus said that "from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God" (Luke 22:69). When Stephen was being stoned, he had a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God (see Acts 7:55-56). Jesus had stood up to welcome Stephen.
There are several other mentions of Jesus seated at God's right hand, but the phrase is figurative. It is improbable that God actually sits on a physical throne like a maharajah. So, what's the significance then? To be on the right side is to be identified as being in the special place of honor and exaltation (see Hebrews 10:12-13). It also signifies the seat of judgment. In Jesus' parable of The Sheep and the Goats, the sheep and goats are separated, with the sheep on the right hand of God and the goats on the left hand.
However, judgment will take place when the great day comes. In the meantime, what Jesus is doing at God's right hand is far more consoling and encouraging. He is interceding for us! In words that should offer all of us tremendous comfort and hope, Paul writes: "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Romans 8:33-34).
Like a hard-hearted prosecutor, Satan always brings charges against us, especially when we sin. He will also encourage others to condemn us, and if that isn't bad enough, he will make us condemn ourselves as well. If you have ever been tortured by guilt after doing something wrong, you will know what I mean. With all these fingers pointing at us in accusation, it is easy to believe we are useless people destined for hell. However, Christ tells us not to worry. Although the wages of sin is death, he has paid the price. And like a good defense lawyer, he tells his Father that the devil has no grounds for condemning those he has saved.
Let us not condemn ourselves either. Instead, let us remind ourselves that if we are in Christ, then we too are seated next to our Father in heaven. May we all remain in Christ.