At the Right Hand of God
Of what benefit was the suffering of Jesus, the Christ–our Lord?
Peter’s first letter was written to Jew who were in exile from Israel and who were currently going under great suffering and persecution. Peter acknowledged that suffering is not always just. But regardless, suffering happens and they must choose to live in light of that suffering.
Suffering, however, is not restricted to people. Christ also suffered. Christ suffered as an example for believers. Peter mentioned this when he wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:” (1 Peter 2:21). Believers are then to share in His suffering. Consider these passages:
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:5)
“…and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Romans 8:17)
“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,” (Philippians 3:10)
“…but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:13)
We see from these passages that believers do indeed share in the suffering of Christ. But why? Jesus’ suffering was unique (Heb 7:27; 9:25-26) and it was altogether necessary for salvation. Luke 24:26-27 says, “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:26–27)
Ultimately, Jesus’ suffering resulted in His glorification. This is what we see as we continue our study in 1 Peter. Following Christ’s final suffering–His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection, Peter tells us that it is Jesus
“…who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” (1 Peter 3:22)
Through His suffering, Jesus was rewarded and blessed. He has gone into heaven and into heaven and is at the right hand of God. Over and over, the Bible tells us that Christ is now seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly places.
- Christ was risen and is now at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34).
- God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heaven (Ephesians 1:20).
- When Christ had purged our sins, He took His place, seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3).
- This place of honor is given to Christ alone for not even the angels were given a place at God’s right hand (Hebrews 1:13).
- Christ is now the High Priest seated at the right hand of throne of Majesty in the heavens (Hebrews 8:1).
- After He sacrificed Himself for our sins, He took His place at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12).
The final outcome of the suffering of Christ as He endured the shame of the Cross was that He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2– “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”).
Jesus, the Christ was rewarded in His exaltation over all things; He is now at the right hand of God. His is the seat of supreme honor. Christ is now in position to rule and reign over all creation (Col 1:15-16; 2:14-15). His authority and power is over the angels and all authorities. They have all been made subject to Him.
What is Christ’s ministry while He is enthroned at God’s right hand? To answer this, we should consider His current and future ministries.
Christ’s Present Ministry
We learn much about Christ’s ministry from the predictions made in Psalm 110. This Psalm points to the Messiah–Jesus, the Christ. Jesus used this Psalm to demonstrate to the Pharisees that He was the God/Man sent to be the Messiah (Matthew 22:41-46). This Psalm of David showed that David’s son would also be His God. But the Pharisees rejected Him. This Psalm also teaches us that Jesus will have the dual office of King and Priest (after the order of Melchizedek). The Psalm then presents the Messiah as the Conqueror who will judge the nations. From this we have a bit of an outline of Christ’s current ministry.
First, Christ is the head of His body–the Church.
Christ formed the Church. The church started on the day of Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:33). After Christ was exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see or hear. The Holy Spirit was given to believers as a seal of God’s promise (Ephesians 1:13). When a person places trust in the substitutionary death of Jesus–when we partake of His baptism–we are born again. We become members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13).
Christ cares for His Church. Christ’s love for His Church is demonstrated by His sanctifying work. To sanctify means to set apart. Those in the Church (those who trust in Christ’s deliverance) are constantly in the process of being set apart. We are progressively becoming more and more “Christ-like.” We are the children of God and though our transformation is ongoing (Romans 12:1-2), what we shall ultimately be has yet to be determined; but we know that one day, when He has been revealed, we will be like Him (1 John 3:2). Why? Because we will see Him as He really is.
Christ give gifts to His Church. The diversity of the Church is beyond question. Each person in the Church is unique and has a unique role to fill in the Church. Christ determines what that role will be…He alone gives spiritual gifts to those in the Church (Ephesians 4:7-13). The purpose of the gifts is to edify the Body of Christ–the Church. Christ gives to pastors, teachers, and evangelists to the current local church so that they can equip the saints–the believers in the body–for the work of ministry.
Christ empowers His Church. Jesus cares for His Body, but He also gives power to the Body. He prunes the branches of His vine so that it will be fruitful. His desire is that the Church abides in Him and stands against the powers and authorities of the World (John 15:1-10). Love is to flow from the Body. But even so the world will stand against the Church–to those whom Christ has called (John 15:16). The world will in fact hate those who belong to Christ. Not because they directly hate believers, but because they first hated Christ (John 15:18-25).
Second, Christ serves as a Priest for His people (Hebrews 2:18; 4:14-16). Because He has suffered, He is able to aid those who are being tempted (or those who are suffering). In this, He sympathizes for us, He assistance or aid in life, and He gives us grace. In addition, He intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). Jesus actively and continually prays for us; rather than, passing sentence on us. What a blessing to have the creator of the universe speak on our behalf. As Priest, Jesus is also preparing for our entrance into heaven (Hebrews 6:19-20).
Third, Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:2). We are the bride of Christ and He has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us. One day, He will return for His bride and take us to be where He is. What a day that will be!
But Christ also has a still future ministry.
Christ’s Future Ministry
I won’t spend much time here. Suffice it to say that Christ has three ministries in the future.
- He will raise the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
- He will reward all people (John 5:22, 27, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
- He will rule this world (Revelation 19:15).
Christ is now at the right hand of God. He is ministering on our behalf. He has much to do in the future. Our response should be to subject ourselves to Him…to His rule…to His reign. This means that we need to be active in our faith. We need to be serving Him. We need to be looking for His glorious appearing. He will return to bring rewards to His faithful servants.
Are you a faithful servant?