Summary: Sermon 2 in a study in HEBREWS
“When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”? And again, “I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”? 6 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.” 7 And of the angels He says, “WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE.” 8 But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.” NASB
We don’t think very much of sitting down any more; at least not in our American culture. When we sit down we do it without much thought beyond making sure there is something actually there behind us, and there is not anything on it that will be uncomfortable or mess our clothing.
In fact, sitting down for us is either a neutral thing, eg., sitting at a desk in a classroom because it is expected and class is about to begin, or negative, eg., someone we know is a ‘couch potato’ or as we say, ‘so and so is sitting down on the job’. But seldom does the act of sitting for our culture express something particularly positive beyond being a position of repose at the end of a trying day.
In our reading of the Bible it would always be helpful to take notice when we are told that someone sat down and why, and sometimes even where.
Isaiah, in a lament over the future fall of Babylon, said,
“Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; Sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans! For you shall no longer be called tender and delicate. Isa 47:1
Sitting in the dust was a sign of poverty and defeat and grieving.
When Jesus sat down to teach the multitudes the act of sitting was an indicator of the authority to teach.
Whereas in modern culture the teacher stands before a sitting class, in those days the students stood and the teacher sat down to teach them. You may remember that after teaching the multitudes for hours Jesus told His disciples to have the people sit down on the green grass, then He fed them the bread and fish. (Mark 6:39-40)
Find a good concordance, every student of the Bible should have one, and spend an hour or so looking up places where someone sat or was sitting. It will impress you.
You will find Jesus sitting down to teach (Matt 5:1), Peter sitting fearfully with the enemies of his Master (Matt 26:58), Pilate sitting on his judgment seat when his wife came to him to warn him to have nothing to do with this ‘righteous man’ (Matt 27:19), the angel outside the tomb on Resurrection morning, sitting on the stone as though daring anyone to try and roll it back (Matt 28:2), and this isn’t even a smattering. I didn’t even touch the Old Testament, and took all these only from Matthew’s Gospel.
In the Bible sitting down is always significant, and especially when our Lord is doing it.
Before we move on from here there is something I would like to bring to your attention. In Matthew 26:64, in response to the high priest’s unlawful demand that Jesus testify against Himself, Jesus finally answers this way:
“Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”
Of course, this enraged the pious Sanhedrin and the high priest tore his robe as a sign that he had heard blasphemy, and called for the death of Messiah. I can’t help wondering if there was also some fear involved, since the implication was that while the beaten Jesus was standing before their throne of judgment now, in the end they would be standing before the Judgment throne of the Son of God in Glory.
In any case, turn briefly to Acts 7, where faithful Stephan has given his lengthy defense before the Jews wherein he has brought a righteous indictment against them. Look at verses 54 through 56.
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”