Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God raised Him from the dead and demonstrated that Jesus’ death was the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. What happened after Jesus’ resurrection? Luke tells us in Acts 1:3 that Jesus “presented Himself alive to them [the Disciples] by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit and then they will be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The Ascension of Jesus
Soon after giving His Great Commission (Matthew 18:18-20), Jesus ascended (physically) into the sky and entered heaven to be in the presence of God the Father. Here are some key verses on the subject:
- Mark 16:19 “Then after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”
- Luke 24:50-53 “Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. And while He was blessing them, He left them and was carried up into heaven. After worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continually in the temple complex praising God.”
- Acts 1:9-11 “After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.’”
- 1 Timothy 3:16 “And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
The Exaltation of Jesus
Once Jesus arrived in heaven, He was seated at the right hand of God the Father. What does it mean to sit at the right hand? Most people are right-handed and therefore have more strength with their right hand. In ancient times, the right hand of the king symbolized his power and authority. When a king wanted to grant authority and favor to someone, he would signify this by placing him at his right hand. Here are some key verses on the subject:
- Psalm 110:1 “This is the declaration of the Lord to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”
- Ephesians 1:20-23 “He demonstrated this power in Christ by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens—far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.”
- Colossians 3:1 “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
- 1 Peter 3:22 “Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.”
- Acts 2:32-33 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.”
Being at the right hand of God the Father means that Jesus has been exalted and reigns supreme with all authority over heaven and earth. Philippians 2:9-11 says, “For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Intercession of Jesus
Hebrews 10:12 tells us that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God “after offering one sacrifice for sins forever.” Jesus has secured redemption for His children. Romans 8:34 says, “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.” Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us. We can better consider the great blessing we have when we think of this in a courtroom setting. We have someone to plead our case that is not only known by the judge but is well-loved by the judge and in whom the judge completely trusts. Our redemption is secure because of Jesus. The fact that He intercedes for us means that He knows us, is aware of all our moments and days, and loves us completely. Romans 8:31-39 is a wonderful call for us to rest secure in Christ.
The Triumph of Jesus
Jesus currently reigns supremely as King of Kings and will continue to do so “until His enemies are made His footstool” (Heb 10:13 & Psalm 110:1). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 that Jesus “must reign until He [God the Father] puts all His enemies under His [Jesus] feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death.” There will come a day when Jesus will return to earth and on that day, we will see Him face to face.
Until that day, let us remember what Jesus has commanded us to do as we await His return. Let’s be His witnesses! Let’s tell of His excellent greatness! Let’s worship Him! Let’s make disciples! Let’s love one another! Let’s plead with our lost friends and family to be reconciled to God! Let’s give Him the glory He deserves!