Theme: At God’s Right Hand
This week’s lessons teach us about the most quoted psalm in the New Testament.
Scripture: Psalm 110:1-3
The first verse of Psalm 110 also speaks of Jesus’ present position at the right hand of the Father in heaven and of his Lordship over all things in heaven and on earth. This is cast in the form of an oracle from God, for God is quoted as saying: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” We are familiar with this idea from the Apostles’ Creed, which most Christians recite together each week: “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”
What does it mean to sit at God’s right hand? In the ancient world, to sit at a person’s right hand was to occupy a place of honor; a seat at the right hand of the host would be a place of honor at a dinner. But to sit at a king’s right hand was more than mere honor. It was to share in his rule. It signified participation in the royal dignity and power.1 This is what has happened to Jesus since, as Paul wrote to the Philippians, “…God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
What a tremendous gulf there is between God’s evaluation of his beloved Son and the scorn people had for him when he was on earth. When he was here, Jesus was despised and rejected. He was harassed and hated. At last he was unjustly arrested, tried and cruelly executed. But God reversed all that, for God raised him from the dead, received him into heaven and then said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
That is where Jesus is today. He is at God’s right hand, ruling over all things in heaven and on earth. And this is God’s doing. It is not up to us whether Jesus Christ will be Lord or not. Jesus is Lord, and God has made him such. We can fight that Lordship and be broken by it. The verse says that Christ’s enemies will be made his footstool. Or we can submit to it in humble obedience with praise.
More of us need to begin to think of Jesus as he is today, exalted to a position of honor at God’s right hand. Most people’s image of Jesus is at best that of a baby in a manger. It is a sentimental picture best reserved for Christmas and other sentimental times. Others picture him hanging on a cross. That, too, is sentimental, though it is sentimentality of a different pious sort. Jesus is not in a manger today. That is past. No more is he hanging on a cross. That is past too, since Jesus came once to die for sin and after that to ascend to heaven to share in the fullness of God’s power and great glory. When Stephen, the first martyr, had his dying vision of the exalted Christ it was of Jesus “standing at the right hand of God” to receive him into heaven (Acts 7:55). When, on the Isle of Patmos, John had his vision of Jesus it was of one who was as God himself. The apostle was so overcome by Jesus’ heavenly splendor that he “fell at his feet as though dead” (Rev. 1:17).
1J. J. Stewart Perowne lists examples of this understanding from Arab and Greek sources. See his Commentary on the Psalms, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1989), p. 304. Original edition 1878, 1879.
What does it mean to sit at a king’s right hand?
What was Jesus’ position on earth? What is his proper position? Contrast the honor God gives his Son with the way people treated him.
What two aspects make up sitting at the right hand of God?
Reflection: Why is it important for you to realize Jesus is no longer in a manger or hanging on the cross? How does this affect your image of Christ?
Prayer: Ask God to help you submit all areas of your life to his lordship.
Key Point: Jesus is Lord, and God has made him such. We can fight that Lordship and be broken by it…Or we can submit to it in humble obedience with praise.