Where Is Jesus?

I just finished a small Bible study on a puzzling topic: Is Jesus currently sitting or standing, and is He on a throne or not? To me this is a puzzling topic as I don’t think the Scriptures are incredibly clear on it. Let me explain.

At the end of the synoptic gospels, Jesus is making reference to the end of days:

  • “Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”” (Matthew 19:28)
  • “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31)
  • “Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”” (Matthew 26:64)
  • “And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”” (Mark 14:62)
  • “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19)
  • “But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22:69)

What we can deduct from these verses is that at the end, Jesus sits on a throne, and He sits at the right hand of God. Question is: can both be true? If so, it would imply there are two thrones, right?

Let’s skip to Revelation… Here we clearly see in the beginning of the book that Jesus is not on a throne and He is standing:

    • “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6)
    • “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Revelation 5:13)
    • “…standing before the throne and before the Lamb […] and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”” (Revelation 7:9-10)

What about the end of Revelation? Well, in chapter 19, God is seated on the throne (v.4) and Jesus is on a white horse waging war (v.11-16). In chapter 20, there are multiple thrones and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed (v.4), and in verse 11 someone is sitting on the throne, but it is not specified who it is. In chapter 21 we can infer Jesus is on the throne, because in verse 6 He identifies Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, yet in verse 7 He uses a reference that He is the Father. This seems somewhat confusing. In chapter 22, the last chapter of the Bible, it seems to confirm that there are indeed two thrones, for verse 3 says, “but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it.

It seems that at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus is standing and not sitting on a throne, and at the end of Revelation, Jesus is sitting on a throne next to God. The latter would indeed concur with what the synoptic gospels are saying.

So far, so good, right? So why is this such a puzzling topic then? Well, it’s because of the verse references in the epistles. In Acts 7:55-56, Stephen gazes into heaven and sees the glory of God (wow!), and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Both Romans 8:34 and 1 Peter 3:22 make reference to Jesus being at the right hand of God, but say nothing whether He is sitting or standing. Yet, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; and 12:2, all refer to Jesus sitting down.

So, what’s confusing? Well, it could be that Stephen’s glimpse into heaven is in Stephen’s present day: Jesus is standing. But all the epistle verses talk about Jesus in the past tense and yet He is sitting down. Hebrews 1:3 makes this very clear when it says, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”. This verse concurs with Ephesians 1:20, which says, “when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” and Hebrews 10:12, which says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”

Am I missing something here, or is this indeed confusing? Both Stephen’s glimpse and the beginning of Revelation states Jesus is standing. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus refers to Himself at the end of time and here He is seated (as He is indeed in the later chapters of Revelation), but the epistles state that Jesus is already seated at the right hand of God.

What we can say is that Jesus is currently in heaven and that He is at the right hand of the Father. Is it very important to know whether He is standing or sitting down? I don’t know. I hold fast to the promise that there are no contradictions in the Bible, so this topic forces me to study deeper.

In the mean time, what do you think?

The Request of Five Daughters

Some say that you can find Jesus Christ on every page of the Bible, even in the strangest stories which seem to make no sense. In Numbers 27 we find such a story which turns out to be much needed for Jesus. Even more, without it Jesus would not have been… well, just read the post…

In Jeremiah 22:30, the LORD says, “Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.” This man is Jeconiah (or Jehoiachin) and as it was promised that the Savior would ulimately come from the tribe of Judah and sit on the throne of David, this poses a problem.

We read in Matthew 1 the genealogy of Jesus’ legal father Joseph, which takes a path through David and Solomon and then we read in verses 11-12 the name of Jeconiah (on which there is a blood curse announced and on all his decendants, including Joseph, the legal father of Jesus). We read in Luke 3:23, in Luke’s rendering of Jesus’ genealogy, that Joseph was the son of Heli (which is strange as Matthew says that Jacob was the father of Joseph in Matt. 1:16). When we dig a little further in Luke 3:23 we read that the Greek says ‘hōs nomizō’ which can be translated as ‘reckoned as by law.’ In other words, Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli! This genealogy also takes a right turn after David through Nathan (instead of Solomon) thereby bypassing Jeconiah and thus the bloodcurse.

In Numbers 27:1-11 we read the story of the five daughters of Zelophehad and how they stood before Moses to explain that their father died in the wilderness without leaving any sons, and how these daughters don’t want the name of their father (and thus the possession) to be withdrawn from among his family. Moses checks with God, who says that they will get their hereditary possession and will transfer the inheritance of their father to them (Num. 27:7). And says then that “If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.” (Num. 27:8). Although instituted here, it is applied to them by Joshua in Joshua 17:3-6.

In other words, Joseph, the father of Jesus, had both a legal father (Heli) and a biological father (Jacob), through a Levirate marriage. The theory suggests that Joseph’s grandfathers (Matthan according to Matthew; Matthat according to Luke) were brothers, both married to the same woman, one after the other. This would make Matthan’s son (Jacob) Joseph’s biological father, and Matthat’s son (Heli) Joseph’s legal father. Matthew’s account would trace Jesus’ primary (biological) lineage, and Luke’s record would follow Jesus’ legal lineage. Matthew’s account follows the lineage of Joseph, while Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. This means that Jacob was Joseph’s biological father, and Heli (Mary’s biological father – as mentioned in the Jewish Talmud Chagigah 77:4) became Joseph’s surrogate father, thus making Joseph Heli’s heir through his marriage to Mary. If Heli had no sons, this would have been the normal custom. Also, if Mary and Joseph lived under the same roof with Heli, his “son-in-law” would have been called “son” and considered a descendent.

Now what does this all mean? In fact, the curse on the royal bloodline was side-stepped by the virgin birth and a specific exception in the Torah, which was associated with the daughters of Zelophehad. The legal line descended through Solomon (the first surviving son of Bathsheba) to Joseph, but he was not the biological father of Jesus. Mary was of the line of David, but through Nathan (the second surviving son of Bathsheba), not Solomon. Applying the provisions of the Zelophehad exception, Heli, the father of Mary, properly adopted Joseph as his son-in-law. Thus meaning that Jesus was indeed from the tribe of Judah yet not affected by the blood curse through the male line.

Amazing, isn’t it!

First, You Pick Up the Cross

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

Not to offend anyone here, but I believe we have a way to easy and convenient and almost metaphorical picture of cross-bearing. We are not talking inconveniences here. The term is way too glibly used. The general idea that these words of Jesus about bearing the cross refer to passive submission to all kinds of afflictions, like disappointments, pain, sickness and grief that come upon man in life, is totally wrong.

The one carrying a cross essentially walked down death row to their place of execution. He knew there was no turning back. He had no longer any say over his life. Actually, the person bearing his cross was already considered death.

So, to be honest, I don’t think it so much refers to total commitment. Let me explain. To commit means to bind or entrust or pledge or obligate. Now, in that regards, it is Jesus who commits Himself to us, and this is not in any way confirmed or enhanced by our commitment to Him (rather the opposite I would say). I don’t think it refers so much to the way to our death (Jesus didn’t bear His own cross walking to His death).

No, “we were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4). We are already dead, and brought to back to life, and are a new person. We are not committing to being that new person. We are that new person by His work, not ours. It is all by His grace, and it’s one way.

So, what does it mean then? It is a reminder BEFORE you accept the invitation by faith what the consequences will be. Remember that a disciple (in the sense of a follower) isn’t necessarily yet a regenerated person, a Christian. It is a reminder that when you accept His invitation by faith you will be a dead man walking for “those whom he called he also justified” (Rom. 8:30). You will die and be buried with Christ (by Christ), and raised to walk in newness of life (by Christ’s Spirit).

And read carefully what it says…

First, you pick up your cross.
You need to pick up your cross. No one else can do that for you. You are the one that must be willing to die to self. You pick up your cross. For Jesus the cross was literally dying to self, because Jesus died there as a human, and in another way, Jesus died there as God. And both were necessary to fulfil the Scriptures. What does it take for you to die to self? As long as you are not willing to pick up your cross, as long as you are not willing to lay down your life, you cannot be His disciple.

Second, you follow Him.
Once you are willing to lay down your life, you actually have to do it. And I believe these two actions go hand in hand just like the lame man in John 5 who got up after Jesus healed him from laying on that stretcher for 38 years. It is unthinkable that the healed man would continue to lay on the stretched. No, Jesus’ command of healing and Jesus’ command to get up go hand in hand. Following Jesus after picking up your cross is acknowledging that you would follow the life and pattern of Jesus. This is following Jesus at its simplest. He carried a cross, so His followers carry one. He walked to His self-death, so must those who would follow Him.

Third, you will be a disciple.
You can follow Jesus without being His disciple. Jesus had lots of followers, but all (even including His disciples) stopped following once they figured out where Jesus was going. No, being a disciple (a Jewish talmidim) means so much more. A disciple’s highest calling was to be a reflection of his teacher. A disciple studied to learn, to act, to speak and to respond the same way his master would act and speak and respond. A disciple studied to do the things his master did. His highest goal was to walk after his teacher. There is a story in ancient tradition that tells of a rabbinical student so devoted to his teacher that he hid in the teacher’s bedchamber to discover the mentor’s sexual technique. To be sure, this is a bit extreme, yet it demonstrates the level of commitment required to be a disciple. In Luke 6:40 Jesus said that “a disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Jesus made it clear that only cross-bearers can be His disciples. And if you are not His disciple, well, then why are you following?

I don’t at all think this is talking about the daily inconveniences of life. It’s about counting the cost beforehand. This whole section of Scripture from verse 25 till the end is all about counting the cost, not about what you do once you are a disciple.