The Apostle’s Creed, part 14

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;

he ascended into heaven,

   and sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty.

This line of the Creed has its basis not in the Gospels, but in the Old Testament. In Psalms 110:1, we find an interesting verse, written by David, King of Judah:

The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

In the three synoptic gospels, this verse is used to confound Pharisaical cross-examiners who were testing Jesus and seeing if they could find something with which to discredit him. This verse was understood by the Jews to refer to the coming Messiah, who would be a descendant of David. Jesus asked them how David, who would be the progenitor of the Messiah, would refer to one of his descendants as “Lord.” (Adonai) After all, The LORD (JHWH) said to my Lord (Adonai)…. How can one of David’s descendants be God?

And it is this verse that got him crucified, at his trial before Caiaphas. The trial had not produced anything that was a killing offense, but Jesus ended it all by claiming to be that Messiah who would be sitting at God’s right hand.

But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” (Luke 22:69-71, my emphasis)

This Messianic claim, and the Christian claim of divinity for Messiah,  is part of the New Testament record of Jesus. In Acts 2, Peter uses it in his Pentecost sermon, and later, as an old man, he writes of Jesus “who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God.” Paul cites this claim in his letters to the Ephesian and Colossians. Fives times, the writer of Hebrews refers to Psalm 110 to demonstrate the Messiahship of Jesus.

And we have the testimony of Stephen, the first martyr, who, as he was dying by being stoned, cried out:

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56)

Standing there, acting as the officiator for this execution with the authority of the Sanhedrin, was a young up-and-coming religious leader-to-be, Saul of Tarsus. He was eye-witness to Stephen’s testimony of seeing Jesus at God’s right hand, and told this, late, to his faithful traveling companion, Luke, who included it in his history of the Apostles. To me, this is as close as it gets to a first-hand account. So, I have no doubt as to where Jesus is, and what He is doing, interceding for you and me.

Jesus, second person of the Trinity, sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty.

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Filed under Christian Beliefs, Theology Stuff

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