By Mere Agency / Apr 19
The question that we’re asking today is “where is Jesus in the midst of the crisis” and “where is Jesus right now?” There are a couple answers that we can think of that are biblical in their understanding. The first: some people might say “well, he’s in my heart. Jesus lives in my heart and I know that he is in me and so Jesus right now is in my heart in the midst of the crisis.” That’s not a terrible answer.
If we look at Ephesians 3:16, it says that “according to the riches of God’s glory,” Paul is praying that “he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” You can see that Paul is saying that Christ dwells in our hearts. But the caveat would be that that’s not exactly the question that we’re asking right now. Christ dwells in our hearts by faith through the spirit, so it doesn’t tell us where Jesus is physically, right now, in the midst of this crisis.
The second answer you might give is, “Well Jesus is present in the Lord’s Supper when we take communion. When we have the bread and the wine, he is present with us. We affirm that that is true. 1 Corinthians 10:16 says that “the cup of blessing that we blessed [that is, the communion cup] is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” Then Matthew quotes Jesus saying, “This is my blood of the Covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) We can see that that Jesus is present in the supper. He says “this is my blood,” “this is my body.” We participate in the blood of Christ. But again, not quite what we are asking because we would say that we are feeding on Christ by the spirit because he is not physically present in the communion in the bread or in the wine. We have not quite answered the question: “where is Jesus right now,” though we are trying to answer it with ideas and in ways that the Lord has given us in our heart and in the Word.
Another way we can answer is, “Well, he’s present with us in the Church.” “We are a spiritual house,” 1 Peter 2 tells us, a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. You might say, “Well, I’m with Jesus when I go to church. That’s where Jesus is. He is with me when I’m at church.” But again, it wouldn’t answer the question that we’re asking which is, “where is Jesus in the flesh, the human being Jesus, the God-Man, right now?”
A fourth answer, one we would not ascribe to, is the pagan view or the view that the original people who found the empty tomb thought was possible. They said, “His disciples came by night and stole the body away while we were asleep.” Whether they thought that was possible or not, they wanted to come up with a story for explaining how Jesus could be alive, so this pagan, or non-Christian, view would be that “He’s in a grave somewhere. We don’t need to ask where Jesus is because he’s in the grave somewhere in Israel.”
Those four answers I would say are answers that people might give. But the answer that the New Testament gives most clearly, and over and over again is that Jesus is at God’s right hand. Repeatedly throughout the New Testament, we can see that Jesus right now is at God’s right hand. Why does that matter? Why would it matter for us in the midst of a crisis that Jesus is in the flesh at God’s right hand? I think the more we meditate on this, the more we see the Bible wants us to meditate on Jesus at the right hand of God.
If you look at Colossians 3:1-2, it says, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things of Earth.” Jesus is at the right hand of God and Paul tells us we should meditate on the fact that he is at the right hand of God. How did that happen? How did Jesus get to the right hand of God? Well, after he died on the cross, atoned for sin, and then resurrected, he at appeared to his disciples. He appeared to many people, even up to 500 once, and then he ascended. That is, he lifted up and went into heaven. Acts 1 tells us that while the disciples were gazing into heaven, he went and “behold two men stood by them in white robes and said, ‘men of Galilee why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” We see from the Ascension what happened when Jesus rose again and then rose up to his father’s right hand. The men who saw it happen standing there looking up into heaven, gazing up at the sky, as though they were looking at clouds or trying not to look directly at the Sun. But they were looking up into the sky. They were they were gazing into heaven.
When Paul tells us to set your minds on things that are above, he’s not telling us to get a telescope. He’s not telling us to look into the sky to gaze at the clouds. He’s telling us to set our minds on things that are above, to set our minds on the fact that Christ is at the right hand of God. When we ask the question, “Where is Jesus in the midst of the crisis,” the answer is: he is seated at the right hand of God reigning, interceding, and enlivening us in the flesh.
How do we conclude that he is in the flesh? In Luke, at the end of Jesus’s time on earth, he says to Thomas, “look at my hands and my feet. It is I. Touch me and see a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. After the resurrection Jesus had flesh and bones. He invites Thomas to touch him. Then in 1 Corinthians 15, we see that that Jesus is now a life-giving spirit. After his resurrection and ascension, he is now in the flesh. A life-giving spirit enlivening his Church, that is, sending his Spirit. And not just enlivening his Church but reigning as a human and interceding on our behalf.
This is where we get to the heart of why it matters that in a crisis Jesus is at the right hand of God: He is a sympathetic high priest. The sympathetic God-man knows what it’s like for us to be in crisis on earth, and yet is outside this space-time continuum. You might say he is outside of this creation. He is the new creation. Christ is the new creation by merit of his resurrection, and he is at the right hand of God doing two things on our behalf. He is reigning on our behalf, the New Testament tells us, and he’s interceding on our behalf. When we look around the world and we don’t know who is in control, we ask questions: “When are things going to lift?” “When are we going to be allowed to go out?” “When are we going to no longer have to be stuck?” “Who’s making these decisions? The federal government? The state? The mayor?” It is extremely complicated to know who’s actually in charge right now. Except, Jesus is at the right hand of God, reigning on our behalf.
Let’s look at some passages in the New Testament which outline this to conclude. Ephesians 1 says that “God raised Christ from the dead, and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places—far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Paul is telling us is that Christ is ruling at the right hand of God, as we saw from the other passages, in the flesh, as a human, as the God-Man. And he is ruling over all levels of government. He is ruling over every power that we might see, or not see. An intimate, invisible spirit over every dominion and every realm, not only in this age but in this age to come. Beyond that, he is putting all things under his feet as head of the Church. He is ruling on our behalf.
First Peter 3 takes it a little bit farther. He says, “Jesus has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God.” He’s at the right hand of God with the angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Where is Jesus right now? He is in heaven, at the right hand of God. When we set our minds on the things above, we meditate that we don’t have to know who’s in control. One who is like us is at the right hand of God, reigning on our behalf, in control and sovereign. His leading has all power and everything is under his feet. It’s not some ethereal ephemeral notion. It’s not some theoretical concept. It is a human being.
He says to Thomas, “Look at my hands and my feet. Touch me and see. A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Now, Yes, Jesus’s body, as he rose is glorified, but it is still a body. It is still entirely a body. Thus, we know there is one like us reigning on our behalf at the right hand of God.
He’s not only reigning on our behalf. He’s interceding on our behalf. He’s interceding as a human in the flesh, glorified, on our behalf. When we are in crisis as we are now, we know the one who is reigning is also listening. The one who is controlling all things is awaiting our prayers. Romans 8:34 says “who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died. More than that, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. This was not something that God came up with suddenly. This was something that was the plan all along: for the God-man to sit at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
We can go to an Old Testament passage quickly to see this. Psalm 110, a psalm that gets quoted throughout the New Testament. The psalm reads, “the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” This Psalm is saying that the son of David would become the Lord of King David, would sit at the right hand of God, and would rule over all things. It was described in the Old Testament and planned in eternity past. It’s not just the past, it’s also the future. Hebrews 10:12 tells us that “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.”
We know the last enemy to be defeated is death and Jesus is right now interceding on our behalf, reigning on our behalf, and sending the Spirit. He is enlivening us at the right hand of God, waiting until the time when he puts death under his feet. The way we grow in Christ right now is by contemplating, setting our mind, on the things above, that is, Christ, who is reigning, interceding, and enlivening us right now.
If we ask, “Man, where is Jesus? This is getting hard.” There are so many rich things to meditate on, it will calm our hearts. While we may not answer the question, “what’s going to happen in our world in the coming days and weeks and months and years,” we know who is in charge, and the one in charge is reigning on our behalf.