Summary: Part 1 of a two part series, both being topical sermons on the Risen Saviour and his place at the Right Hand of the Father. Active and supporting us in life!
Mark 16:19-20 Jesus works with us as we do his will.
Mystery, I enjoy a good mystery, a Touch of Frost (David Jason is a brilliant actor, and there’s a mystery there what is his real name, Sir David John White), some suspense, intrigue, a who done it, or even an unsolved crime. Personally I could sit and watch CSI type programmes for ages. Those who know me well know I love to research things I come across, to find out their history, why they were made and what they are about.
Something that is a mystery that has over the years left me wondering and I mean really wondering is; why after the resurrection did things occur as they did?
Jesus disciples not recognising him and then suddenly recognising him. Also what is the ascension all about, the descriptions of it aren’t very dramatic, no bolts of lightening, explosions or even flaming chariots.
What was his ascension? Well two of the four gospels and the book of Acts give us a description of Jesus ascending, that’s going up into heaven. Here is an artist’s impression. PP
There is not a huge amount of information about this, but we do know that, he was “taken up before their very eyes (that’s the disciples), and a cloud hid him from their sight.” (Acts 1:9b)
What I want to do today and next week is to unpack some of the mystery about the ascension; where Jesus is now and what his continuing work is and how that effects us?
Pop quiz: Where is Jesus now?
1) In his Gospel Mark records the ascension this way: “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:19-20) Jesus worked with them!
So Jesus is recorded as being at the right hand of God in heaven, and still working with the disciples. We have further evidence of his being at the right hand of God in Acts 7:55-58: you may recall the stoning of Stephen,
…“but Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the Glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he (Stephen) said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragging him out of the city and began to stone him.”
Again in Stephen’s description we have a picture of Jesus the “Son of Man at the right hand of God, this time not seated but standing. I would suggest that the position that Jesus has in heaven is one of action, remember he worked with his disciples.
Stephen was the first of the Christians to be martyred and too right, Jesus would be on his feet.
We don’t know what Jesus was thinking, but on his feet out of concern, feeling the pain that Stephen is to go through, yelling stop to those who about to stone Stephen, ready to welcome Stephen to heaven? We don’t know exactly why he’s standing, but Jesus is seen to be out of his seat.
Here’s a thought, where do The All Blacks find you at the AMI Stadium or in front of the tele. They are playing Australia scores tied, when Richie McCaw or Big Joe Rokocoko is heading for the try line? Too right you’ll be out of your seat!
Remember Jesus is truly and properly God and truly and properly man. He feels the emotions you feel he knows suffering, joy, hunger, happiness, the taste of salty fish on his tongue, he understands where you are at.
That day he understood what Stephen was going through. Like you are there for your team, The Lord was there for Stephen. Just as The Lord was there as witness to those events, he is with us!
How is he there for us?
2) Jesus is there for us as our Great High Priest: remember that only one person could enter the Holy of Holies once a year in the temple. This was the High Priest. Jesus made it possible for us all to enter that place.
In Hebrews 4:14-16. We read this:
“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firm to the faith we profess. For (and I really like this bit) we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet is without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”