“Standing at the Right Hand of God”

About 18 times in the New Testament different writers refer directly to this same expression from Psalm 110:1: “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand until I make all thy enemies the footstool of thy feet”. Not all these quote the entirety of the Psalm, but sufficient enough of it is cited so that the reader can discern which passage the writer was alluding to. Strangely enough, the passage appears in only one place in the Old Testament, but then only One was ever invited by the Father to sit at His right hand “till I make all thy enemies the footstool of thy feet”. Jesus used the passage to show that the nature of the Christ was more than just a physical descendant of David: He was equal to Jehovah (Matthew 22:44). Peter used the passage on Pentecost to show that Jesus has all authority now in heaven and earth (Acts 2:33-35). The Hebrew writer referred to it to show that Jesus was more than and higher than angels (Hebrews 1:13). God never said to anyone except Jesus, “Sit thou at my right hand until I make all thy enemies thy footstool”. He never spoke these words to any angel (Hebrews 1:13). Paul refers to the passage to show that all the dead must be raised when Jesus comes again. There will not be two resurrections of the dead: the righteous dead at His coming, then 1,000 years later the resurrection of the wicked dead. Yet, whatever purpose any of the inspired writers made of the passage, there is always in the passage a recognition of the mighty power of Jesus.

Uninspired men write of the same truth. The verse, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown him Lord of all” extols the power, honor, and glory which is Jesus’ at the right hand of the “Majesty on High”. No earthly ruler, high though he may be or might have been, has ever even begun to approach this majestic position of Jesus! Today, yesterday, and tomorrow every responsible human being is expected to confess their faith that Jesus is the Son of God, that He does sit at the Father’s right hand, and that He does indeed have all power in heaven and on earth.

While there are at least 17 times in which allusion is made to the fact that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, there is only one place where Jesus was said to be “standing at the right hand of God”. There Stephen, Christ’s first martyr, had spoken to his people, showing that although Jesus was sent by God to His nation only Moses was sent to deliver them. So the people, in essence, said to Jesus, as they had said to Moses, “Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?” Stephen’s sermon so infuriated his listeners that they put their hands over their ears to silence any other words Stephen might speak, and took him to be stoned to death. Just before he died, Stephen “being full of the Holy Spirit looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).

When we are interested in or concerned about something we are watching, often we stand in our concern for what we see, but whether this instance of Jesus “standing” rather than “sitting” at the right hand of God has any special significance, I do not know. One thing I do know; whether there was significance in Jesus standing rather than sitting at the right hand of God, He was concerned about the well being of this faithful child of His. He may be (and is) the Creator of heaven and earth, including man. He has all authority in heaven and earth. He has the power to speak our world out of existence (and will). He will someday raise every person who has ever lived and died to life again and yet, He cares for one insignificant child of His: me and you.

God heard the anguish and saw the plight of a bondwoman named Hagar, who had been dealt with severely by her mistress Sarah. God saw her trial, reassured her with a gracious promise, and sent her back to her master. In her thankfulness she praised God, saying, “Thou God, seest me” (Genesis 16:13). He was aware of a poor widow who gave only two pence into the temple treasury but gave more than all the others who gave because she gave all she had (Mark 12:41-44). He had compassion on a poor, blind beggar who begged Him to give him his sight and He did (Luke 18:35-43). He saw the anguish of two weeping sisters whose brother had died, and seeing their tears, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). He felt the extreme sorrow of a widow whose only son had died, and He restored his life and gave him back to his mother (Luke 17:11-16). And Jesus cares for us. The scriptures urge us to cast “all thy cares upon Him, for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We are assured that we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has in all points been tempted as we (Hebrews 4:15). We stand in awe of the power of God for, despite the billions of people alive today, every one of whom He is aware of including their sins, He also knows their hurts, their needs, and He cares for them, just as He cares for the birds of the air.

Why should we not be conscious of this? After all, if He loved us to the extent He would die for us, why should we be surprised to know He is also conscious of our needs, frustrations, pain, and loneliness? He ministers to us and supplies those needs as well. All Christians should be comforted by the knowledge that God cares, just as Stephen must have been comforted when he saw Jesus standing, looking on what was happening to him. He knows. “Thou, God, seest me”!

Jim McDonald

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