Who's At Your Right Hand?
WHO’S AT YOUR RIGHT HAND?
Jesus knew that going to Jerusalem would kill Him. He had warned His disciples as much. Most people, if warned that certain death awaited them at a destination, would avoid the destination at all costs. Wouldn’t you? But not Christ! In one of the bravest verses in the Bible, we read that Jesus "…was determined to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9.51)
Perhaps Jesus could still have saved His life by sneaking into Jerusalem and lying low, but He did not do this either. He entered the city in a parade! He made sure that His enemies could not possibly miss His arrival. He did not give them the option of ignoring Him. And then, as if the parade were not visible enough, Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple and publicly declared that tax collectors and prostitutes would enter Heaven before the religious leaders of the day.
These are not the actions of a man trying to save his own life. Where did Jesus draw His strength from? Peter gives us the answer in Acts 2, when he applies the messianic prophecy from Psalm 16 to Jesus. Included in that prophecy is this passage: "I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (Psalm 16.8) Christ could not be shaken, even in the face of betrayal, scourging and crucifixion, because He had set His Father at His right hand!
Jesus warned his disciples in John 15.20, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" He was right, of course. Scripture tells us that Stephen was stoned and that James, the brother of John, was killed with a sword. Tradition tells us that Philip, Andrew, Jude (Thaddeus) and Simon the Zealot were crucified; that Peter was crucified upside down; that Bartholomew was flogged and then crucified upside down. Paul was beheaded, Matthias was stoned and then beheaded, Luke was hanged on an olive tree. Matthew was killed by a halberd (), Thomas was speared and his body burned in an oven, and after being thrown down 100 feet to his death, James the Less was bludgeoned to death with clubs. (Fox’s Book of Martyrs)
We read this list in awe. These early Christians seem far removed from us in how we may be persecuted today. How is it that they were not shaken even in the presence of the worst that man could do? Why? Because they too had set God at their right hand.
What if worst came to worst? What if we faced similar persecutions? What if we faced the executioner's block? Could we die faithfully? Of course – if we set the Lord continually before us, if God is at our right hand. Place Him there today!
With brotherly affection,
-- Andy Brenton