“He ascended into haven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty”
This week we celebrate that our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. Our creeds makes specific mention of this and then also mention the curious phrase “right hand of God”. Does that mean that Jesus is sitting next to the Father at His right side? Some Christians have used the phrase to indicate Jesus somewhat being “trapped” in heaven (Calvinists), but as Lutherans we go to the Scriptures to learn about what that phrase “right hand of God” means.
Exodus 15:6 describes the right hand of the Lord: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. Power, victory. The message of Easter continues through the Ascension of our Lord. Jesus is Almighty, glorious in power.
That is just the tip of a very large iceberg. When we go into the Psalms and see the phrase “right hand” used we see that God’s right hand upholds, strengthens, defends, exalts. Also there are some very similar things about Jesus that are said about the right hand of God. The right hand saves (Ps. 98:1). In Psalm 48:10 the Scriptures declare that the right hand is filled with righteousness. That is Jesus, filled with righteousness. All of what we have celebrated as a congregation through Lent and Easter has to do with Jesus’ work to fulfill all righteousness, doing every perfectly and laying down His life, so that He can give that righteousness to others. That means you.
The prophet Isaiah uses the phrase “right hand” a few times as well. The most comforting is Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. God has promised to uphold you by His righteous right hand. Jesus’ place is at the right hand of God. That is where He rules from, and His rule is always in your best interest, even if it doesn’t seem all that glorious from our perspective. Someday we will know the glorious rule of He who sits at the right hand of God the Father.
This is all meant for comfort. Every part of the Church year is meant to bring the comfort of Christ to you, the crucified, risen, and ascended Christ, who sits at the right hand of God the Father. His ascension means great things for His Church, for His Christian people. He did promise greater things to His disciples after He went back to the Father. He also promised to prepare a place for you. He is now exercising all of His divine power for your good. And as He promised, He did not leave us as orphans, but sent His Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Spirit of Truth who teaches us all truth. And for that Truth we run into God’s Word, to hear of our common salvation found in He who ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty.