The Right Man at the Right Hand

….why we remember Christ’s Ascension


            In 1523, in one of his sermons, Martin Luther said:   “It is easily said and understood…..that the Lord ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God.   But these are dead words to our understanding if they are not grasped with the heart.     We must, therefore, conceive of his ascension and Lordship as something that is active, energetic and continuous, and we must not imagine that he simply sits above, while we hold the reins of government down here.    No, he ascended up [to the throne of God] for this reason:   that there He can best do His work and exercise dominion.   


            “Had he remained upon earth in visible form, before the people, He could not have accomplished His work as effectively, for all the people could not have been with Him and heard Him. Therefore, he inaugurated an expedient which made it possible for him to be in touch with all people and reign in all, to preach to all and be heard by all, and to be with all.   Therefore, be careful, so that you do not imagine within yourself that He has gone, and now is, far away from us. The very opposite is true:   While He was on earth, He was far away from us; now He is very near.”


            Luther’s insight on Jesus’ ascension was profound 500 years ago, and it remains spot-on-insightful today.   He realized then that Christ’s ascent into heaven (which was officially observed this past

Thursday…..the fortieth day after Jesus’ resurrection), is one of the most significant, yet frequently overlooked observances of the Christian Church.   I doubt I’d be wrong if I said that probably most of us missed it altogether, seeing this past Thursday as just another day.                                                             


            Ascension Day was first formally observed by the Christian Church during the early

part of the fourth century (the 300’s A.D.).   Among other things, they held processional pilgrimages which would begin outside the walls of a given city, and which would be completed by a special worship service in the local church at the close of the procession.   The processions themselves were intended to recall our Lord’s leading His disciples out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, where He lifted up His hands and blessed them immediately prior to His ascent into heaven.  During the Middle Ages, the processions were enhanced with banners and candles, which were intended to symbolize Christ’s triumphant entry into heaven.  For example, the “Paschal candle,” which was lighted at Easter and had burned for forty days, and which represented the presence of the Lord with His Disciples, was extinguished after the reading of the Gospel Lesson (Luke 24:50-53).  Over the centuries the observation of the Ascension also included special prayers which were offered for the blessing of the fruits of the earth;  the reason for their inclusion in the ascension observation remains unclear.  The “liturgical color” for this special occasion, consistent with the color for the Easter Season, is white, symbolizing the purity and glorification of the risen and now ascended Savior.  


            It remains a sad reality in the life of the church today that the major Christian festivals of the Epiphany (January 6) and the Ascension of our Lord (always on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter) generally receive minor consideration on the Church’s calendar, mainly because the one certainly and the other usually falls on a weekday, rather than on our customary day of meeting, Sunday.  The festival of the Ascension marks the climax of Christ’s visible ministry on earth.  It is also, along with Christ’s descent into hell and His resurrection, another stage in His “Exaltation” (the progressive re-assuming of His divine power and glory which He partially laid aside when He came to earth as the God-man).   More important, it marks the entrance of our Savior, according to His human nature, into a greater and fuller mode of existence beyond the confines of space and time;  an existence of complete power and authority over all things at the “right hand of God the Father Almighty.”  This authority Christ exercises for the benefit of His Church.  In heaven He also serves as our Great High Priest, being the “Mediator” between us and our Heavenly Father.  One final remark is yet in order….Christ’s “sitting on the right hand of God the Father” does not mean that He is confined to a certain place, far from us.   Quite to the contrary, no longer bound by time or space, through His ascension into glory Christ is now able to be present everywhere and at all times for all who are a part of His Church — including you and me.


            This morning’s First Lesson is the Bible’s “expanded account” of Jesus’ ascension, given to us under inspiration by the evangelist Luke.    The Epistle Lesson is part of an extended discussion on the “office”/role that Christ filled as the Great High Priest.   Contrasting Jesus’ “once for all” sacrifice for sins on the cross to the Old Testament-mandated sacrifices that Israel’s priests made on a daily basis, we want to recognize that Jesus’ innocent death and perfect shed blood paid the price for all the world’s sins for all time.    In comparison, the sacrifices of the OT priests had to be repeated twice daily, and even then they

never really paid for sins, but only pointed ahead to the ultimate sacrifice of God’s Son for the world’s sins.    As we consider both the act and the application of Christ’s death for sins, we’ll also want to focus on the completion of Jesus’ “Mission of Redemption” and the significance of that truth for us  – the completion having been signified by His visible withdrawal from the world through His ascension.    Today’s Gospel Lesson is Scripture’s – and the Evangelist Luke’s –  briefer “other account” of the ascension of Jesus.    It also serves as our Children’s Lesson.   The latter will emphasize the truth that Jesus did not raise His hands to say “good bye” and leave us alone.   He raised His hands to bless His followers of all time, promising that He would be with us always and that He is in heaven now preparing places for us to spend eternity with Him.   And, finally, our Sermon Text will remind us of the special comfort and confidence we possess as Christians through Christ’s Ascension, since we know that our Savior is in heaven, continually interceding for us and our needs, and yet He is also constantly with us, watching over us in His Omnipresence, using His almighty power to benefit and bless us.    


This Day on the Church’s “Calendar”   

            We want remind you that today on the Church’s “Calendar” is traditionally known by they ancient name Exaudi Sunday.  (“Exaudi” is the Latin word for “hear,” and is taken from verse 7 [underlined] of our Psalm for day, Psalm 27).   Across nearly 15 centuries this particular Psalm has been regularly read by Christian congregations on the Sunday after the Lord’s Ascension in order to remind us that our Lord, in His love, does “hear” our prayers and continues to bless in both earthy and everlasting ways all those persons He has called into faith to be His followers and heaven’s heirs.  

            With this morning’s service, we are also closing out what is  known as “The Easter Season.”  During the 7 Sundays of this portion of the Church Year, you and I have been able to give our attention to a number of resurrection-oriented Scripture readings.   The purpose has been to reassure us of the risen Christ’s providence, protection, receptiveness, and favor for us, His redeemed followers, so that we might be to strengthened in our faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord, and encouraged in our lives of faithful service and devotion to Him.   This Seventh, and Last, Sunday of the Easter Season is also known as “The Sunday of Anticipation,” since, through our Opening Scripture Lesson, it provides us with the historical transition between Christ’s Ascension Day command to His disciples to be His witnesses to an unbelieving world, and their Pentecost (next Sunday) powerful reception of the Holy Spirit in order to assist them in the Gospel ministry which Christ gave to them….and now — nearly 20 centuries later — to us.   In it Luke gives us a brief account of the what the disciples did following Christ’s Ascension, as they waited in Jerusalem for Jesus to send them His Holy Spirit.   In addition to praising their Savior, they took up the responsibility to fulfill  another of Scripture’s prophecies  by selecting, with God’s guidance, Judas’ replacement — the new twelfth Apostle, whose name was Matthias.


A Word Of Welcome To Our Guests . . . Good morning and welcome to Grace Lutheran Church.  We’re pleased that you’ve chosen to be a part of our worshiping assembly this morning.  Whether you are a guest today or a member of this Christian family, your presence at this service is sincerely appreciated.  It is our wish that the time you spend here will be enjoyable and spiritually edifying, and so it is our desire to serve you in the best way we can.  If there is anything that we might do to assist you in your worship today, please speak with one of our ushers or our Pastor.  They will be pleased to serve you in any way they can.

     Following the worship service this morning, we invite you to join those around you for some coffee, refreshments, and good conversation in our gymnasium/fellowship hall.  If you are able, we would also be honored to have you remain after today’s fellowship time in order that you might further hear and study the Scriptures with us in one of our Bible Classes or Sunday School classes.  And, we hope that you will come back soon to again praise the Lord with us.  May God bless you and your worship of Him today.  


About Our Worship Service . . . . . The order for our worship service is printed in this service bulletin.   You will find that our worship is made up of three essential ingredients:  praise, instruction from God’s Word, and prayer.   We sing our praises to God for all of His gracious blessings.   We receive instruction from His Word in our various Scripture Lessons and through the Sermon.  Our prayers consist of expressions of our repentance for our sins, plus requests for God’s forgiveness, guidance, and continued blessings.   A few additional brief explanations of how we worship may be helpful.   The congregation in worship (we are not part of an audience, but participants in the action of worshiping) generally are seated to listen to God’s Word and sing the regular hymns.   The pastor faces the congregation when he is serving as God’s spokesman.  He faces the altar both when he is serving in the capacity of the congregation’s spokesman, and when he joins the congregation as a fellow worshiper.   One final note:  Because Jesus is our Lord and King as well as our Savior and Redeemer, we customarily stand out of respect for the words of Jesus during the reading of the Gospel Lesson.


About Our Congregation . . . . . . . Grace Lutheran Church is a fellowship of families and individuals who have found the Lord Jesus Christ to be the only safe and reliable answer to all of life’s problems and critical questions.   We are members of the WELS, or the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  Wisconsin indicates the geographical origin of a group of Christians (organized in Milwaukee, WI in 1850) who believe, teach, and confess that the Bible is the inspired and error-free Word of God, and who are united in their efforts to proclaim Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins.   Evangelical declares that we believe and proclaim the great Gospel principles of the Bible that sinners are saved by Grace alone,  through Faith alone,  in Christ Jesus alone,  on the basis of Scripture alone.      Lutheran indicates that we hold to the historic Christian faith of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, almost lost to the Church at one time before God restored it through the Lutheran Reformation.   Synod states that we are part of a gathering of over 1200 Christian congregations throughout the United States plus congregations in 24 other nations, all of which “walk together” for the express purpose of serving and sharing the Good News about our gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Pre-Service PrayerO Lord God, Almighty Creator, from Whom every good and perfect gift comes, You have bountifully blessed me in so many ways.   You have preserved me in Your Word.  You have provided for my bodily needs.   You have protected me from spiritual harm and have kept me in the true faith.  For your abundant goodness to me, I humbly praise and thank You.   Though I do not deserve it, I implore You to bless me with Your continued presence, Your Fatherly protection, and Your guidance in all areas of my life.   I submit myself to Your gracious will, with the confidence that You will use me, as Your humble servant, in whatever ways will serve to further Your glory and Your kingdom. Bless and enrich my faith as I hear Your Word today, and receive my heart-felt praises in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Savior.  It is in His name that I pray.   Amen.


Silent Prayer upon entering the sanctuary

Pre-service music                                                                                                                                              


We Praise Our God


The Invocation


 We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Opening Lesson                                                                                                                   Acts 1:12-24


12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.   13 When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter and John were there, also James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 All of them kept praying together with one mind, along with the women, with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

15 In those days, when the group there numbered about 120 people, Peter stood up among the brothers and said, 16 “Gentlemen, brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David about Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 Judas was counted as one of us and was given a share in this ministry.

18 “Now this man acquired a field with what he was paid for his wicked act. When he fell headfirst, his middle burst open, and all his intestines spilled out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, and so in their own language that field was called Akeldema, which means Field of Blood. 20 Indeed, it is written in the book of Psalms:   May his residence be deserted.     Let there be no one dwelling in it.  And,  let someone else take his position.

21 “Therefore it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us during the entire time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from his baptism by John until the day Jesus was taken up from us, become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

23 They proposed two: Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”


26 Then they assigned lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was counted with the eleven apostles.


The Opening Hymn                                                                                                            “In Christ Alone”

by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty, reprinted under # A712831


In Christ alone my hope is found    He is my light, my strength, my song

This cornerstone, this solid ground  

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My comforter, my all in all   Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh  Fullness of God in helpless babe

This gift of love and righteousness   Scorned by the ones He came to save

Till on that cross as Jesus died   The wrath of God was satisfied

For every sin on Him was laid   Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay    Light of the world by darkness slain

Then bursting forth in glorious day   Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory   Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me

For I am His and He is mine   Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death   This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath   Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man   Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home   Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand


After which the Congregation will rise as


We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


Pastor             God, our Heavenly Father, invites us to come into His presence and to worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness for all our sins.


Congregation  Holy and merciful Father, +   I confess that I am by nature sinful   +  and that I have disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and actions;   +  I have

done what is evil in Your sight   +   and have failed to do what is good.    +   For this I know that I deserve Your punishment, both now and for eternity.    +   But I am truly sorry for all my sins,   +    and trusting in the perfect life   +    and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I plead:   +   God have mercy on me, a sinner.


Pastor Our gracious Lord and Master has shown us His mercy:   He has given His one and only Son to save us from all our sins.     And now, carrying out my office as a called

servant of Christ,  and according to His command and authority,   I forgive you all your sins   in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  May the peace of God rest upon all of you.    Amen.

The Congregation responds by singing:                                                  “All Glory Be To God On High”

                                                                                 sung to the melody of “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less”


All glory be to God on high!   We praise, we thank, we glorify,

And worship You, Who gives earth peace,   Whose love and favor never cease.

Lord God, our King, on heaven’s throne, Our Father, the Almighty One.

O Lord, the Sole-begotten One.    Lord Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son,

O Lamb of God, You take away    The sin of all,   now hear us pray.

You rule at God’s right hand this day,   Have mercy on us, Lord, we pray.

You only are the Holy One;   O’er all things You are Lord alone.

O Jesus Christ, we glorify You only as the Lord Most High,

Who with the Spirit e’er shall be    One in the Father’s majesty.     Amen.




The Prayer for Today (offered by the Pastor)


O Almighty God, the King of glory,    Who exalted Your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph into Your heavenly Kingdom.    As You assured His disciples 20 centuries ago, so now assure us that we are not without His presence, comfort or direction while we live out our lives in this world.      Grant us the Spiritual wisdom and strength we need,  through the working of Your Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds,   so that we will be guided by Your word, and protected by Your power while we continue to serve You here, as members of Your  Holy Christian Church on earth.   We humbly ask all this in the name of Your Son, our Savior,   Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit,   as the one, true God, now and forever.     Amen



Our Psalm Reading for Today                                                                                                         Psalm 27


P:         The LORD is my Light and my Salvation;   whom shall I fear?

C:        The LORD is the Stronghold of my life;  + Of whom shall I be afraid?

P:         When evildoers advance against me to eat my flesh, when my foes and my enemies come against me, they stumbled and fall.

C:        If an army lines up against me,  +  My heart will not fear;   + If war rises against me, +   even then I will keep trusting.


P:         One thing I ask of the LORD,  this is what I seek:  That I live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD, and to seek Him in His temple.

C:        Yes, He will hide me in His shelter on the day of trouble  +   He will hide me in His tent.    +     He will set me high upon a rock.


P:         Then my head will be lifted up above the enemies who surround me;    I will offer sacrifices at His tent with a joyful shout.   I will sing and make music to the LORD.

C:        Hear, O LORD, with my voice I call.    Be merciful to me, and answer me.

P:         When You said, “Seek My face,”   My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”


C:        Do not hide Your face from me;   +   Do not turn Your servant away in anger;    +   You have been my help; +  Do not reject me or forsake me,   +  O God, Who saves me.

P:         If my father and my mother abandon me,  the LORD would take me in.


C:        LORD, Teach me Your way,  +  And lead me in a straight path, because of my oppressors.

P:         Do not give me up to the desire of my foes,   because false witnesses rise up against me, and so do those who breathe out violence.

C:        Unless I was confident to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living….[I would have lost hope.]


P:         Wait for the LORD;   Be strong and take heart

C:        and wait for the LORD!


after which the Congregation will be seated as



We Hear God’s Word


The First Lesson                                                                                                                             Acts 1:1-12


I wrote my first book, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began doing and teaching 2

until the day He was taken up, after He had given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. 3 After He had suffered, He presented Himself alive to the apostles with many convincing proofs. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and told them things about the kingdom of God.


4 Once, when He was eating with them, He commanded them, “Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for what the Father promised, which you heard from Me. 5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6 So when they were together with Him, they asked, “Lord, is this the time when You are going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”


7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


9 After He said these things, He was taken up while they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. 10 They were looking intently into the sky as He went away. Suddenly, two men in white clothes stood beside them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus, Who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.


The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                     Hebrews 9:24 to 10:14


24 For Christ did not enter a handmade sanctuary, a representation of the true sanctuary. Instead, He entered into heaven itself, now to appear before God on our behalf. 25 And He did not enter to offer Himself many times, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise He would have needed to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once and for all, at the climax of the ages, in order to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And, just as it is appointed for people to die only once and after this comes the judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered only once to take away the sins of many, and He will appear a second time—without sin—to bring salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for Him.


10 In fact, the law is only a shadow of the good things to come, not the actual realization of those things. It will never be able to make perfect those who continually offer the same sacrifices year after year. 2 If it could do this, would they not have stopped bringing sacrifices, because the worshippers, once they were cleansed, would no longer have a bad conscience about sins? 3 Instead, these sacrifices reminded them of their sins year after year. 4 The fact is that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. 


5 Therefore when He entered the world, Christ said:   Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but You prepared a body for Me.  6  You were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings.   7  Then I said, “Here I am.  I have come to do Your will, God.   In the scroll of the book it is written about Me.”


8 First He said:   Sacrifices and offerings that were offered according to the law,  both burnt offerings and sin offerings, You did not desire,  and You were not pleased with them.

9 Then He said:  Here I am.   I have come to do Your will.  He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 By this will, we have been sanctified once and for all, through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ.


11 In the one case, every priest stood ministering day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which are never able to remove sin. 12 In the other case, this priest, after He offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since then He has been waiting until His enemies are made a footstool under His feet. 14 By only one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.


After which the Congregation will rise for


The Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;   Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;   Born of the Virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;   Was crucified, dead and buried;   He descended into hell;   The third day He rose again from the dead;   He ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;   From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost;   The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;   The resurrection of the body;    And the life everlasting.  Amen.



The Gospel and Children’s Lesson Lesson                                                                           Luke 24:44-53


45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, “This is what is written and so it must be:  The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Look, I am sending you what My Father promised. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”


50 He led them out as far as the vicinity of Bethany.   He lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 And while He was blessing them, He parted from them and was taken up into heaven. 52 So they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 They were continually in the temple courts, praising and blessing God. Amen.


Not “Good Bye,” but God Bless You


The Sermon Hymn                                                                              Hymn 169   “Alleluia, Sing To Jesus”


1 Alleluia! Sing to Jesus;    His the scepter, His the throne;

Alleluia! His the triumph,    His the victory alone.

Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion   Thunder like a mighty flood:

“Jesus out of ev’ry nation   Has redeemed us by His blood.”

2  Alleluia! Bread of heaven,   Here on earth our food, our stay;

Alleluia! Here the sinful    Flee to You from day to day.

Intercessor, Friend of sinners,   Earth’s Redeemer, hear our plea

Where the songs of all the sinless  Sweep across the crystal sea.

3 Alleluia! Not as orphans    Are we left in sorrow now;

Alleluia! He is near us;    Faith believes, nor questions how.

Though the cloud from sight received Him    When the forty days were o’er,

Shall our hearts forget His promise:   “I am with you evermore”?



The Pre-Sermon Greeting


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!  Amen.

The Sermon Text                                                                                                               Ephesians 1:16-23


16 I never stop giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Christ fully. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope to which He has called you, just how rich His glorious inheritance among the saints is, 19 and just how surpassingly great His power is for us who believe. 20 It is as great as the working of His mighty strength, which God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, authority, power, and dominion, and above every name that is given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 God also placed all things under His feet and made Him head over everything for the church. 23 The church is His body, the fullness of Him  Who fills everything in every way.


The Right Man at the Right Hand

A good C. E. O. can do wonders for a company.   A transcendant CEO can positively change a business and even a culture.    Consider, for example, Elon Musk, with his Tesla electric car company, and his Space X space exploration company…..which is about to send two astronauts rocketing into space this coming Wednesday.    Or Steve Jobs with Apple Computers….and now the Ipads, I Pods, and smart I Phones that he led his company to develop, produce and, in so doing, change our culture.

Almost every Sunday we confess these words about Jesus – as we did earlier today – that He is “Sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”   But what exactly does that mean?     “Sitting at the right hand” is a word picture that takes us back to ancient times. When a king grew old and wanted to step back from ruling his country (sort of retire), he would sometimes bring his son in to rule in his place. He would invest all the authority in his kingdom into the hands of his son so that his decisions were – in effect – also the king’s decisions. Basically, the king would make his son the “C.E.O” of his kingdom. The symbol of his son’s power and authority was to be seated on a throne at the right hand of the king.

When Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at God’s right hand, he became God’s C.E.O. over all of God’s creation. What Paul shows us in our text is that ……

Jesus Is The Right Man For Us in the Right Place, at God the Father’s Right Hand

The balance of power is always important in any situation from politics to business to family relationships.  You never want to put ALL power into one person’s hands –– for fear of what he or she might do with it. So a company’s CEO is answerable to the stock holders, as well as the Board of Directors.  The power of President of the United States is kept in check by the Congress and the Supreme Court, and Congress’ is checked by the President and Court, and the Supreme Courts is counter-balanced by the authority of Congress and the President.    We call this our constitution’s system of checks and balances.    We wouldn’t want anyone to have absolute power because we shouldn’t trust any person with that much power.    Except when it comes to God having absolute power and authority over us and everything else.    In one of our familiar hymns, you and I sing: “Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to thee.  Take my moments and my days;  Let them flow in ceaseless praise.”    What we’re saying is, “Lord I’m grateful that You are in charge of my life!”

But are we really serious about that?   Don’t you and I, as sinners, often struggle with the reality that our lives, our futures, our everything is in God’s hand and totally under His control?   That He has the right and authority to do what He pleases with us and through us and for us…isn’t always easy to accept, is it?   Don’t we often behave and think like we have some sort of “veto” over God’s decisions – or at least that we should have a veto?  The sad reality is that sometimes we don’t trust God the Father completely to know and to do what is best for our lives!  We want to be in control instead.


But when Jesus ascended into heaven, God the Father gave Him absolute power and control over everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth.   Let’s listen again to Paul’s inspired words, where he describes the absolute power Jesus has at God’s right hand. “how surpassingly great His power is for us who believe. 20 It is as great as the working of His mighty strength, which God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, authority, power, and dominion, and above every name that is given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 God also placed all things under His feet and made Him head over everything for the church. 23 The church is His body, the fullness of Him  Who fills everything in every way.”


How could the Father trust Jesus with all that power?   The answer is simple.  Because Jesus was and is God’s Son.  Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.”  They are one in the mystery that is our Triune God.   The Father’s plans and purposes are Jesus’ plans and purposes….and the plans and purposes of the Holy Spirit as well.

Therefore, it only makes sense that Jesus the one in control of everything and everyone and in every age.   Nothing happens in this world unless Jesus either commands it or permits it.   For example, when Jesus was on trial before Pontius Pilate, Pilate said he had the power to put Jesus to death.   Jesus rather matter of factly told him that he didn’t have any power except that which he had received from God above.   Now all that power is in Jesus’ hands. He has the power to set up and tear down the kingdoms of the world. He has the power to hold evil in check, and the power to turn the evil plans of Satan into something good for God’s children.  He has the power over every sickness and disease – including the corona virus, and the power over life and death.

We tend to accept that in “general” terms, but do we accept it in specifically personal terms, too? One day, a messenger came to tell Jesus that His good friend, Lazarus, was sick. “When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it. Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” We know that Lazarus did die, but that Jesus raised him from the dead. But for those four days before he came to Bethany, how sad a time it must have been for Mary and Martha as they mourned the loss of their brother.   Could Jesus have prevented his death?   Of course He could have.  He didn’t even have to go to Bethany to heal Lazarus.  Jesus could have cured him from far away! But Jesus would use Lazarus’ sickness, death and resurrection so that He would be glorified through it as the Almighty God that He is.    Mary and Martha simply needed to trust Christ’s use – and the timing of His almighty power.  He wasn’t going to fail them….and He didn’t.

But what about us?   Do we trust gladly and gratefully that Jesus has absolute control over everything that happens in our lives? And I do mean everything!   When Jesus sent out His disciples to do mission work for Him, He told them not to be afraid or to worry about anything.   This is what He said. (Matthew 10:29-31) “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?   Ye tnot one of the will fall to the ground without the knowledge and consent of your Father.   And even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  So, do not be afraid.  You are worth more than many sparrows.”    God was in control.  And so they had nothing at all to be afraid of or to worry about – ever.    And now all this power and control are in Jesus’ hands……


Normally when you think of the C.E.O. of a company, you think of him shaping the company’s strategic vision for the future, maybe making the big decisions, but directing his assistants and support staff take care of all the smaller details.   Well, that’s not the way it is with Jesus at the right hand of God the Father.    Jesus knows when a sparrow dies and when one of your hairs fall out.   He is in charge of absolutely everything…to the minutest detail!

So, do you trust Jesus to be at God’s right hand and to manage every detail of your life? Or do you want to have a say in the matter, some measure of self-determination?   You know, my friends, if you and I had the power to control our own destiny and to manage all the circumstances of our lives, I’m afraid we would let our selfish, sinful nature make a real mess of everything.   We’d end up giving ourselves prosperity and riches, even though true happiness comes through godliness with contentment – even when one has only a little.   And I’ll bet you that we would choose never to fail at anything – even though God’s grace becomes more real for us when we are weak.    I’ve got the feeling that you and I would choose never to be sick or injured, even though such difficulties can teach us to trust in our Savior and not in ourselves.    I suppose too, that we’d deal ourselves a hand for life that contained no sorrows or troubles, even though it is often in the times of sorrow that we most eagerly look ahead to eternal life in  heaven.   You and I can be glad that God did not put us at his right hand to make our own decisions for life!

Instead of us being there, God the Father put the right Man at His right hand when Jesus ascended into heaven and the Father put all things under His feet.   Why did God do that? Because Jesus wants to – and will – protect and prosper His investment in your soul and mine.  He gave up the glories of heaven to save us.  He shed His holy, precious blood in payment for our sins.   He endured death that we, through faith in Him, might have life that ever ends.   He’s invested a tremendous amount – Himself – in us.


When a large corporation hires a new C.E.O., they often give him a large portfolio of stocks in the company as a hiring bonus.   Believe it or not, there’s a great wisdom in doing that.   The company knows that if the C.E.O has a lot personally invested in the company, then he will do his utmost to make sure the company succeeds and doesn’t fail.    Well, Jesus has a massive  investment in each and every one of us.   He suffered for you and for me.   He gave His sinless life up for us when He died on the cross as our substitute under the Father’s wrath against our sins.   Then three days later He physically brought Himself back to life, conquering death, hell, and the Devil for our eternal benefit who believe in Him!   Can you seriously think of anyone we could trust more to make the right decisions for our lives than the One Who died and rose for us to redeem us for everlasting life in heaven?    Now, that’s one great reason all by itself why Jesus is the right Man at God’s right hand for us.   But – as they say in the infomercials – there’s more……

Another reason Jesus is the right man to sit at God’s right hand is that He knows and understands what it is like to be a real human being like us.   In Hebrews 4: 15-16, we read: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One Who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.  So let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in  time of need.”    Jesus knows what it’s like to go hungry, and to bury a loved one, and to be rejected by his people. He knows what it’s like to be tempted to the limits of human endurance. He even knows what it feels like to face the terrors of death. Can you think of anyone you would rather have in heaven with authority over the circumstances of your life than Him?   Who would you rather have making that decision about when you will die and how you will die?   Who better to be the Head over all things, so that even Satan cannot tempt you more than you are able?   Jesus is the right Man for us at God’s right hand because He’s one of us!

Finally, Jesus is the right Man because He has an intimate, loving, devoted connection to His church. “God also placed all things under His feet and made Him head over everything for the church. The church is His body, the fullness of Him  Who fills everything in every way.”  There is an intimate connection between your head and your body.   For example, if you’re at a baseball game and a line drive is hit in your direction, what do you do?   You probably see something coming at you out of the corner of your eye and in that instant, you blink your eyes to protect them, you throw up your hands to protect your body, or maybe you dive out of the way…… All this information was processed through your head, which makes instantaneous decisions to keep you from being injured.   Your head protects the rest of your body.    Of course, your head has a rather selfish interest in all this because your head wouldn’t feel very comfortable without your body attached to it.

Paul says that God appointed Jesus to be Head over everything “for [the benefit of] His church.”  All the decisions that Jesus makes at the right hand of God the Father have a perfect purpose.  Jesus’ purpose is to promote and to prosper the Spiritual well-being and eternal health of Jesus’ body, which is the Church….namely, you and me!


Paul writes that the Church is the “fullness” of Him Who fills everything in every way.   Now, what’s that mean?   Well, just as the head wouldn’t be complete with out its body, even so Jesus wouldn’t be complete without His Church, which He loves.    Therefore, you can be sure that every decision Jesus makes from God’s right hand –– whether it’s a decision like opening the doors of an Islamic country to missionaries, or whom you’ll married or are married to,  or the decision to let cancer or the corona virus invade your body, or where you’ll live, or the decision to take your job from you, or the control of your education and the experiences you’ll have in life, or when your investments are diminished, or when you’re deprived of someone that you love dearly…..well, all those decisions Jesus makes have been made ultimately to protect and to bless and to further the sound Spiritual health of God’s Church, of which you and I are vital and dearly loved  members.

And that, my fellow Christians, is why you and I don’t want anyone else but Jesus to be sitting at God’s right hand for us –– He is the right man in the right place to take care of all of us today, tomorrow and forever.   So, let’s trust Him to be in control and to use His almighty power for our benefit.    You can absolutely believe that your Lord and Savior will never ever let you down!    Amen.


after the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing   May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal  encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  Amen.


We Respond To God’s Word through our Offerings and Prayers

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate today during today’s

worship service those in attendance may leave their offerings

in the offering  plates by the exit door at the close of our service today.

For those watching today’s service, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:

1) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to the church address

(415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can go online to our website (

and use the giving option there.


Today’s Special Prayers


Included in our prayers this morning are special prayers for the following:


We offer Prayers of intercession for  Janet Milas, who will be undergoing

shoulder surgery this coming Tuesday at Washington Regional Hospital;

and for

Kayla Kattestad (Rachel’s and Roger’s daughter)

who will be having surgery in Oklahoma City this Wednesday.


We also offer Prayers of thanksgiving for Susan Bauer (Pastor’s sister)

who was allowed this past Tuesday to return to her home

from the hospital to continue her recovery following a serious auto accident;

and for

Craig and Olivia Laine, who will be celebrating their wedding anniversary this Wednesday.


The Prayers for the Church


P          Confident of our Lord’s return, let us approach our Father’s throne of mercy on behalf of the Church and of all people……….Lord Jesus Christ, as You ascended up through endless ranks of angels to Your home in heaven You did not leave us or forsake us. By Your Word and Sacrament, and by the sending of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, You continue to abide with us, to teach us, to enlighten us, and to strengthen us in the one true faith.



C:        As we look forward to Your Second Coming,   +    keep us faithful in proclaiming the Law and Gospel +   which is to be preached in Your name to all nations +   to bring people to repentance over their sins   +   and to assure them of Your limitless forgiveness..


P          Lord Jesus Christ, continue to bring before Your glorious Father our plea that we might receive the  Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may better know You and Your will, as well as all of our other prayers and petitions.  As the Father placed all things under Your feet and appointed You Head over everything for the Church, instill peace, unity and a commitment to faithfully living and proclaiming the whole counsel of Your Word  throughout all of Christendom and especially in our Synod.


C:        Grant us a strengthened faith   + so that we will daily take to heart the reality of Your promised return +    and so we will be to urgently carry out the task + of baptizing and teaching Your truth   +   both in our community and to the ends of the earth.

P:         As the disciples lifted their eyes to watch Your ascension, so lift our eyes daily to look expectantly and eagerly for Your coming again in glory.


C:        Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.


Our Father,  Who art in heaven    +    Hallowed be Thy name.    +    Thy Kingdom come.  +    Thy will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven.   +    Give us this day our daily bread.  +  And forgive us our trespasses     +    as we forgive those who trespass against us.     +  And lead us not into temptation.     +     But deliver us from evil.    +    For Thine is the kingdom  +    And the power     +    And the glory    +   Forever and ever.   Amen.



We Close With The Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Blessing –         The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.   Amen



The Closing Hymn                                                                                                                           Hymn 173 “On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build”


1 On Christ’s ascension I now build    The hope of my ascension;

This hope alone has always stilled   All doubt and apprehension;

For where the Head is, there as well   I know His members are to dwell

When Christ shall come and call them.

2 Since Christ returned to claim His throne,   Great gifts for me obtaining,

My heart shall rest in Him alone,    No other rest remaining;

For where my Treasure went before,   There all my thoughts will ever soar

To still their deepest yearning.

3 Oh, grant, dear Lord, this grace to me,   Recalling Your ascension,

That I may serve You faithfully,   Adorning Your redemption;

And then, when all my days will cease,   Let me depart in joy and peace

In answer to my pleading.


Silent prayer, Announcements

Post-service music