I believe in God the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into hell
The third day He rose from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From the Apostles’ Creed
“The Lord said to my Lord; ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” Acts 2:34
Through the Apostles’ Creed, we have considered God, who is the Creator of heaven and earth, and we have seen Jesus Christ, the Son of God; from birth, suffering, death and resurrection. What happened after Jesus’ resurrection? Where is Jesus now and what is He doing? And why does this matter to my faith? As always, we look to the Word of God to answer these questions.
The Gospel writer, Luke, tells us of Jesus being taken into heaven in front of the very eyes of those that walked with Him and would passionately carry His story into faraway lands. He writes, “While [Jesus] was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.” (Luke 24:51) Luke continues this testimony in Acts 1:9 when he says, “He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.” In another Gospel account, Mark writes, “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19) So how can we know that He truly is there? We have the testimony of Saul (who became Paul) who heard a voice from heaven clearly identify Himself as “Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:5) We also have the account of Stephen, one of the newly appointed disciples, who gave an eyewitness report from the site of His own death by stoning. Take in the beauty of his words; “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 said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:55-56) As he drew his final breaths, Stephen was given a glimpse of His Savior in heaven, at the right hand of His Father. This was not the ramblings of a delirious man, but a bold declaration made under the power of the Holy Spirit. Ever the faithful witness, Stephen proclaimed aloud the majesty of what he saw. The writer of Hebrews confirms his vision in Hebrews 8:1 which says, “We have a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.” As an interesting aside, note that Jesus is “standing at the right hand of God.” in Stephen’s testimony. Why standing? Look at Acts 8: 59: “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Though Scripture does not give us details, I believe Jesus stood to receive Stephen into glory, to embrace this servant who died declaring the truth of the Gospel, and to welcome him home.
Is Jesus just sitting around on His throne waiting for us to die? Not at all. Romans 8:34 tells us that “Jesus is at the right hand of God, interceding for us.” Looking at the root definitions for the word “interceding,” we understand that Jesus is with the Father, and “reminding” Him (as if God could forget) that we have taken part in His death through our faith, and that He, Jesus, has provided the perfect sacrifice for all of our sins. Jesus reminded the Father that your angry outburst yesterday has been covered by His blood and sacrifice. He interceded for you when you let your mind wander into sinful thoughts and for me when jealous envy overtook my heart when I saw my co-worker’s new car. He died to provide atonement for every sin you and I have committed and will commit before our lives are done. He lives now to intercede for us, pouring His precious blood over every stain that our sin creates.
Jesus is also at work, preparing a home for all who will believe and trust in Him. He made this promise in John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you, [and] I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Jesus is fixing up your room in His Father’s house. Just the right colors and furnishings, everything will be perfect for you when you arrive. Do you suppose His portrait will be hanging on the wall? No, for we will not need pictures, we will see Him face to face, in all of His glory. Imagine, all of the great men and women of the Bible, the martyrs, missionaries, servants, those who preached to great audiences of people, and those who lovingly wiped feverish brows in the name of Jesus all together in the great halls of God’s house. And oh, what wonderful reunions with those who made it home before us! My mom will be there, and dear and precious friends that I miss so much. We will all share in the joy of God’s house, for Jesus has been working all this time to make everything ready. No wonder He “apprenticed” as a carpenter for thirty years here on earth.
Faith in Jesus Christ is incomplete unless we know and believe that He waits for us in heaven, sitting at the right hand of our Father, interceding on our behalf. Faith must believe that Jesus is preparing our eternal home, and He will stand to receive us when we come to this life’s end. Is your faith in this life alone, or is it a faith that will carry you into eternity?
Eternal Savior, I am in awe of You. You gave your life to ransom me from death, and You live in eternity waiting for me to come home. I will see you face to face – Oh what a glorious day that will be! Amen.