"Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." - Romans 8:34
What's your favorite verse or story in the Bible? Thanks to the Internet we know the Scriptures people search for most often include Psalm 23:1, Isaiah 40:31, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 4:13. These are the Bible's mashed potatoes and gravy, comfort food for the soul.
The favorite verse of Christians in the first century seems to appear on no one's popularity list today. The Old Testament Scripture most commonly quoted or alluded to in the New Testament is Psalm 110:1, "The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit here at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool at your feet." The phrase that most caught the attention of early Christian thinkers was that Messiah would "sit at the right hand of God."
Jesus himself started it, winning a contest of biblical wits on Tuesday of Holy Week by quoting Psalm 110:1. On Good Friday morning, when asked by the chief priests if he was the Christ, he said they would see him "sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One." Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 to validate his belief in Jesus' resurrection on the day of Pentecost. The writer of Hebrews connected Jesus at God's right hand to say that he is the exact representation of God's being and that we have a perfect high priest serving on our behalf in God's sanctuary. Paul declared his faith that Jesus at God's right hand is interceding for us and therefore will never condemn his own. Peter wrote that our baptism saves us by the resurrection of Jesus who is at God's right hand.
Biblical comfort food for first century Christians lay in who Jesus is, what Jesus did for us, and what Jesus is doing now. We believe that Jesus became and still is fully human in his glorified state. Right now one of us, a human who has lived on our planet, has our back in the presence of God, declaring that in Christ we cannot be condemned and also praying for our needs. That is comfort indeed!
Lord Jesus Christ, I rest today in the comfort that you are at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Amen.
Bob Thompson is Pastor of Corinth Reformed Church (UCC) in Hickory, North Carolina, and President of Faithful and Welcoming Churches of the UCC. He posts sermons and other reflections on his blog, corinthpastorbob.com.