In Jesus at God’s Right Hand
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In Jesus at God’s Right Hand
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
You remember I shared with you some of the verses I put on the board like Colossians 1 where it says that Jesus was the first-born of all creation. And we talked about how probably some of you had the same idea as me that Jesus came down to earth and became a man, and then went up and became God again and that was it. And it’s rather startling to find some of the verses of the Bible that implies he is man forever. That he is both son of God and he is man forever.
And you remember, I mentioned verses like, “When the son of man comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him, then will be gathered all the nations and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” And it implies that the last judgment will be done by the son of man. Well, why call him the son of man if he has nothing to do with man anymore? And in fact that Jesus is man forever. And then you remember we talked about Colossians 1 where it says that Jesus was the first-born of all creation. And so he was really the first man. Indeed, he is the great man, he is humanity.
And it certainly hits you on the head, “You mean our God, our God has committed himself to becoming man forever in his son Jesus?” And that’s what we said He does not cease to be God. He does not cease to be the son of God, but he has also become man. So he’s permanently chosen the same kind of humanity really as we have even though it can exist without a physical body. And then you remember that we said there’s that other verse in Ephesians where it say that, “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” and that all of us were made inside Jesus.
And it kind of startles you because we knew, “Oh yes, all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” But it’s a new thing to think that we were actually created as God said, “In Christ Jesus.” In other words, that Jesus was born as the first human being and then we were all created inside him. Inside him, much as a little baby is created inside our mother’s womb. So we were all made inside Jesus.
And it helped to explain you remember, verses in the Old Testament where he calls Jesus the everlasting Father and you think, “No no, he’s the son and God’s the Father.” But he is the everlasting Father in that he’s really in a sense our mother. And we always go back and forth as old protestants and Catholics but you can see what we were trying to get at in the Catholic church with the virgin Mary, we were trying to get at something of the truth that God is in a sense our father or our mother, that in Jesus we were all created. And so we all started off as part of Jesus.
And then you remember the next piece is difficult because I said to you that according to the Bible, God has foreseen everything. And that’s very reasonable you remember, I gave an instance of the caches that we use on computers that try to foresee how you’re using your hard disk and try to get as many hits therefore as possible to save you going to the hard disk all the time and that we with the computers can see an amazing amount by studying what has happened in the past. And of course, God who made us can foresee and foreknown what will happen. Without making it happen he is able to foresee it.
He obviously has given us free will because he says, “I would have often gathered you as a hen
gathers her chickens but you would not.” So God has given us free will but he’s able to foresee what will happen. And of course, he first saw that we would want to go our own way, and that we would tear the place apart to get our own way. And he said to his son, “The only way that they will ever stay with me is if you are prepared to keep them in yourself even as they try to kick you to death.” And in fact, that’s the real bearing of sin that Jesus does.
The expression of it on Calvary is just an expression in space time of what Jesus bears every time we kick against God. Every time we rebel against him, it’s inside much worse than a baby kicking her mother. Much worse than that, it’s a bleeding and a tearing apart of Christ himself. And you remember, I said that he bears that for everyone, even for Hitler. Even Hitler was in Jesus and the only reason he will not be in heaven is because he has never believed that. But, he is part of Jesus and Jesus has born his pain and his agony.
And so we said that and then you remember, I mentioned to you, maybe we should look it up so at least you have time to pause in this. You remember, Ephesians 2:4, “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places.” And really what it means, I’m sorry I can’t draw properly to represent the Savior, but really what happened was all of us were in him and then God saw us rebelling, and saw us destroying, and saw us that the only thing he could do was remake us and he put his son and all of us on the cross and destroyed us all and raised us up with Jesus to his right hand even when we were dead through our trespasses.
That was all done. And so in a sense the elevator is there of Christ and it is going up there to the right hand of God whatever we are like down here and that is our situation. And if you say to me, “Oh yeah, well what about this present life that is so full of our own will and so full of our own selfishness?” You remember, I said its God letting us see what it would have been like had he not done this. And I mentioned to you that there are many good things we’ve had from our parents and our mums and dads, and many good things I’ve had from my mum and dad, and many good things have happened to us in our school life and in our past life. But the fact remains that it is very full of our own selfishness too and very full of all kinds of unhappinesses and that has been given to us to let us see what we would be like if we had never been put in Christ and raised to the right hand of God.
And of course the tragedy is that that life that we have been living up to now is so real that we think, “Oh well, yeah I know what you mean but let’s face it this is the real life down here. I mean, this is the real life. I mean, that’s the heavenly life and we get there when we get to heaven and we should certainly try to live there as much as we can but this is the real life.” And of course it’s upside down; it’s the other way you know. This is the real life and this is a fantasy life that has already been crucified by God in Christ and it’s finished.
But I think part of our trouble is we keep thinking, “Well, yeah I know that’s a tricky little mental way to look at it but let’s face it this is pretty real. I mean, if I pinch Paul I mean, he wonks me or something, but this is a real life here so this is it. But I see what you want me to do, you want me to try to imagine that this is the real life.” I’ll tell you about Plato, old Plato was amazing he wrote – oh we studied in philosophy one in university, the Republic Study of Government but Plato’s looked upon as one of the wisest old Greeks. And he lived about 400 B.C. and he actually was very interesting.
Obviously, Jesus was not alive so anything he got he must have got from Old Testament people. I always presumed he had no contact with Old Testament writers at all because of course he wasn’t a Jew, he was a Greek. But he said, “This table here in heaven,” and he talked about heaven. It’s incredible, God obviously revealed things to people who have nothing to do with Christianity or Judaism at all. “This table in heaven there is a perfect from of that table.” I mean, he did this all through shear logic and philosophy.
But he said, “Everything on earth, there’s a perfect form of it in heaven.” It’s kind of, it’s very close. He told a story that I think I’ve mentioned to you before, he said, “We human beings are like people inside a cave and there’s just a tiny little hole at the mouth of the cave and the sun shines through that hole and as people walk past outside the sun casts the shadow on the wall of the cave but we are looking at the wall we’re never looking out.” And all we see is shadows and we think this is the real life and it’s not the real life at all it’s just shadows of the real life that is out there but we never look round to see the real life.
I mean, you wonder will he be in heaven because the dear fella I don’t know how he got hold of it. But, that’s the situation. I mean, it’s hard I know to face it, but into the van in the morning, or the car nowadays I suppose, into the car, “My eyes are so full of sleep I just did not sleep properly last night, and my mouth it has no sex appeal there’s no tooth paste worthy of the name, and today is Monday and I have to get all that stuff done.” And we treat that as the real life and that is the life that is past, that’s the life that is past. That’s the life that has been crucified. That’s the life the transient life that God has allowed us to see what life would be like if we were not in Jesus.
And this life that we call the real life is the fantasy life. It’s a life already crucified with Christ. You remember, Paul said it, “The cross of Christ by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world.” That life and this life that we live has already been condemned. We can see it of course because we can see the old world breaking up in all kinds of ways and we can see so many imperfections in family life, in our work life, in society’s life, everything is going in all directions so there are signs all over that the Creation as the Bible said you know, is in continual – it’s groaning, it’s groaning until it eventually is released.
So we know there are indications that this world is not perfect but we still keep thinking, “Yeah, yeah, but this is the real world.” And what I felt I should say to you this morning was Jesus is pleading with us, “Follow me. Follow me up. Follow me up. I mean, get into the elevator and follow me up and live there. Live in reality with me, stop living down there in fantasy thinking that that is reality,” especially in our thought life.
And you remember, the way I said to you that we tend to think that in those terms, “How does my mouth taste? How are my eyes feeling? What am I going to face today?” I, I, I, how is this going to affect me? The weather, is it the weather I like? The meal, is it the kind of food I like? These friends, are these the kinds of friends I like? This marriage, is this the kind of marriage I like? This future, is this the kind of future I’m looking forward to?” It’s all I, I, I and Jesus is saying, “Look, leave that. Leave your nets that are entangling you. Follow me up and begin to live where I am.”
Here’s the verse if you’d like to look at it. It’s Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” But verse 2 “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” In
other words, do you not think that it’s time to turn your thought life upside down and to take hold? That’s why I got these old military hymns. I am not wild about military hymns but I thought, “Jesus is really saying, “Look take hold and live the way you say you believe and stop getting into the car in the morning and thinking me, poor me, what am I going to do – why doesn’t that guy get out of the way, oh I’m out of gas. Stop, stop, stop thinking unreally as if you are your own little person trying to make your own little way here when I have in my own body borne all the pain of your death and raised you up with myself to our Father’s right hand and we’re sitting there together. Will you please follow me? Will you please begin to live here with me in your thought life?”
See I think we’re making it hard for ourselves because I think what we’re doing is we’re living down here in our thought life and then we’re thinking, “How do I get up there? How do I try to get up into Jesus? How do I try to get up into heaven?” When you do it just by faith and faith is thinking what is true and thinking what is real. And so I’m really saying to each of us and myself as well, are you – I mean have you changed the way you’re thinking?
Because the other verse I’ll show you, it’s Luke 9:23 that we read there. Because I agree with you it is not simple, or easy, or it’s not certainly the life of an armchair chocolate soldier because Jesus’ call is very much a call to military service really when you look at it. Luke 9:23, “And he said to all, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” And that Greek word for deny is not, “Oh, I’ll deny myself candy for lent,” or, “I’ll deny myself smoking for lent,” or, “I’ll deny myself eating chocolates for lent.” It’s not that kind of denying. The Greek word means if you will make nothing of yourself, deny yourself, say, “That is not me. That is not me.”
And I agree with you, I think it’s hard because you know, “Oh you can’t deny yourself, and you must maintain your self esteem and you must face reality.” Except, that’s the trick you know we say, “Face reality. You face reality yourself that’s the real you.” Well Jesus is contradicting that he’s saying, “That isn’t the real you. The you that people have seen up to this present moment is not the real you. That’s the you that has been crucified with me. The real you is here in me. I have a new creation that I want to live in in you and I want to start living it now. Please, let’s start.”
I think he’s often crying that, “Let’s start. Let’s begin. You know that I made you so that I could live my life anew inside you. Now please, can we start now?” And he’s saying, “Will you deny yourself? If you want to follow me you’ll have to deny yourself. You’ll have to say, ‘I know not that man. I know not that woman. I do not know that Ernest O’Neill that fiddled his way through life so far. I deny that that is me. I am a new creation, a part of Jesus, a part of him with him in his Father’s home and that is my life.’” And that’s what Jesus means, “If you want to come after me you’ll have to deny yourself. You’ll have to regard yourself as non-existent, as me only existing inside you and then take up your cross daily.”
And that’s why I’m bringing home to you the daily thing because it’s no use us all agreeing, oh yes, this is a nice theory and this is good, and this is true. If you don’t do it each day, it doesn’t become real. And so what I’m saying is would you begin each day seeing yourself in Jesus and seeing Jesus in you, and seeing that that’s a whole new life that the Holy Spirit is going to unfold to you and that will be kind of fun. That it will be enjoyable.
I keep thinking of Vincent Peale, he told a story of this American lady. Well, he was an American
he was getting at the Americans so he said, “This American lady was coming to speak at oh some kind of show, a garden show or something. And so the chairman gave her a very, very flowery introduction about who wonderful she was and she got up and said, “I’m so excited I can’t wait to hear what I’ve got to say.” And I think that’s the kind of thing it is. “I can’t wait to see what Jesus is going to do today. I can’t see Holy Spirit, what you are going to do today. I can’t wait to hear what you’re going to say through me today.” That’s what the faith is like.
But you can see it’s a definite change, I mean, it’s a taking hold of your own thought life and it’s seeing this life down here that we’re living as the unreal life that is already gone. And of course, you question if it’s gone, well I wasn’t always that color and some of us weren’t always that color so there are indications that it is already going, you know and that it’s on its way and that it really is a kind of downhill thing and that there is a real life that is eternal in the heavenlies and that is ours at this very moment.
And if you say to me, “Do you really mean that it’s God’s plan that we live up there down here?” Right, right that’s a winner. I mean, it transforms everything. It changes your whole domination by circumstances whether it’s the weather, or the finances, or the people around you, it changes the whole domination of your life by those outside things and you begin to live aggressively inside with a positive center of motivation that is greater than yourself and that begins to produce a life that is bigger than you are. And that’s part I think of what Jesus is saying. He’s saying, “Follow me. Follow me now. Start following me now. I’ve put you in the elevator, I have taken you up, now will you live there?” And you have to decide will I live there or will I just respect that whole theory.
And it starts this afternoon because it’s – I mean, it’s so close to us. “This afternoon? Oh, I was looking forward to this afternoon too.” And you know our dear little minds just spill it all out. We have programs for ourselves that are all connected with what we’d enjoy and Jesus is saying, “I never once thought whether I would enjoy this or not. I never once thought would I be happy doing this? I thought of you.” Let us pray.
Dear Lord, we know that in our deepest hearts we know that that’s true, that you never did give one thought to yourself and the only reason you did any of it is for us. When we see what selfish little egotists we are, and we see how miserable too we are in our egotism, and we see Lord that we’re no different from Peter, and James, and John as you walked along the beach and said to them, “Come, follow me.” We see Lord, that just as they had nets that they depended on for their income and for their livelihood so have we.
All kinds of self interest, all kinds of preoccupations that circle around us and what we want and what we prefer. And we see Lord Jesus that this is what you died to destroy so that we could have the chance of living the life that you and your dear Father planned for us, the life that you yourself intended to live in us. We see Lord, that that’s why we were created not that we would live our own little lives but that you would be able to live a unique version of yourself in us.
Lord, we see that it’s far past time when we began to do that. When we began to exercise faith right now and to make our thoughts and our intellects fall in line with what we believe, and to exercise our wills so that we will no longer think first of ourselves but we will regard ourselves as gone forever and you inside and think, “What would you like to do? What would you prefer this afternoon? What have you planned to do in us from before the foundation of the world?”
Lord Jesus, we would begin to set our mind on things that are above not on things on earth and we would stop looking at the shadows on the wall and we would begin to look at life as it really is as it is eternally and forever and therefore as it is right now. Amen.