Devotional Word for Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Question 50 of the Heidelberg Catechism brings up a good concluding point about Jesus’ ascension. It asks, “Why is there added: ‘And sits at the right hand of God’?” The answer says, “Because Christ ascended into heaven so that He might manifest Himself there as the Head of His Church, through whom the Father governs all things.” Let’s think a little more about this answer and try to see how it helps us think about the authority of Jesus.
When I begin talking to kids and teens about God, I usually ask them to try to describe the Father in heaven Eventually, I will get an answer about His physical strength or His physical might. To prove the point, I sometimes even ask what they think God “looks” like. Then to the surprise of the audience, I tell them they are wrong. You see, God is a spirit. While the Son has taken on human form, that is not true for the Father or the Spirit. God the Father therefore has no physical appearance because He has no physical body. The follow-up question is why Jesus is sitting at His right hand if He has no right hand.
As Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, we do not mean to suggest that He is spatially seated directly to the right of the Father. Instead, we understand that right hand refers to the action and authority of God. This sort of thinking would be obvious to folks who live in right hand dominate cultures. In many places in the world, it would be shameful and disrespectful to touch someone or point to someone with the left hand. This of course is a hold over from sanitary concerns which predate modern plumbing. Within the Scriptures we see this sort of language in many places but perhaps most clearly in Psalm 110. There the Lord says to my Lord sit at my right hand. To that is added the qualifier that enemies would be placed under His feet. Again this is just a picture of the rule and authority the Lord Jesus has as He sits at the Father’s right hand. Answer 50 describes this well. There the catechism speaks of Jesus manifesting or making Himself known as the head of the Church and the One through whom the Father governs all things.
Ever practical, the catechism then asks in questions 51, “What benefit do we receive from this glory of Christ, our Head?” The answer states, “First, that through His Holy Spirit He pours out heavenly gifts upon us, His members. Second, that by His power He defends and supports us against all our enemies.” In troubled times in uncertain times in times deeply affected by a global pandemic, this is an incredible truth to remember. The Lord Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father is there defending and supporting us against all our enemies. This shapes our every response to the world around us.
The Scriptures say this in many ways throughout, but in no place is it clearer than Psalm 118. The psalm begins and ends with “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” That in and of itself should be on the lips of His people daily. However, throughout the psalm the author enumerates the ways in which God has demonstrated His lovingkindness. In our days of growing uncertainty, consider Psalm 118:5-9. “From my distress I called upon the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me in a large place. The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” Amen.