When Libby and I first started courting, she was doing her PGCE in Cornwall whilst I was in my third year in Bible college. Being so far away from each other, we could only see each other once or twice a month. I remember often wondering during the day in the middle of a boring lecture what she was doing at that very moment. Being smitten by her, she was constantly on my mind, and so I was constantly wondering what she was getting up to.
After dying on the cross and rising from the grave, we are told that Jesus Christ ascended physically into heaven. So, that is where he is right now, sat at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 10:12). But have you ever wondered what he’s doing right now? Surely he can’t just be sat down all the time like some distant and impersonal King that can’t be reached? Absolutely not! Quite the opposite, actually.
The language of Christ being exalted and seated on his throne at his Father’s side paints a portrait of his status—his highly exalted state as the conqueror of Satan, sin and death—glorified as the Prince of Peace. It does not mean that he sits there all day long like a statue. It’s an insight into his supremacy as one who has been given authority over all things in heaven and earth by the Father (Matt. 28:18; John 17:2).
So, what is Jesus doing then? Whilst I don’t know what he’s doing right now at this very moment, the scriptures do give us insight into the kind of things that he is doing. Let’s look at what they are:
He is interceding for his people
Christ is pleading on our behalf. He makes the case before the Father, on our behalf, that we should be forgiven and accepted into his presence. Don’t misunderstand this point. He is not trying to convince the Father, as if the Father is a stubborn Zeus-like figure who needs convincing that we are good enough. Rather, it is the Father delighting in his Son, and seeing us in him, the Father sees the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.
From heaven, the power of God for salvation comes to us by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit to unite us to his Son, through whom we receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. So, the intercession of Christ is like a beautiful conversation between the Father and the Son where he delights in the person and work of Christ on our behalf. The only way we can be accepted by the Father is if we are in Christ – the bridge between us and God. On our own, we cannot possibly work hard enough to be perfect. Only Jesus, Word become flesh, is truly perfect, sin-free and “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
The intercession of Christ is where the risen Saviour comes between us and God, like a priest did for the Jews when offering sacrifices. The difference is that now, Jesus has offered himself as a pleasing and acceptable sacrifice to God on our behalf. The result is that we are able to draw near to God through Christ and Hebrews 7:25 tells us: “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
By his intercession, we see in 1 John 2:1 that he is also our Advocate when we sin – not in the sense of downplaying our sin as if our sin doesn’t matter, but in the sense that our sins have been dealt with on the cross – the debt has been paid.
He is reigning over all things
Jesus has defeated sin by refusing to sin. He defeated death by rising from death. And he defeated Satan by refusing his influence, temptations and conquering the effects of sin upon those whom he has tempted by becoming sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) and setting us free from our bondage to the devil.
Victorious in his work on earth, he reigns over all things. Nothing happens in heaven nor on earth without his foreknowledge. All things are done for his will. As one who is infinitely powerful and truly sovereign, he rules perfectly and in errantly, preparing his church as a bride to be presented to himself in the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 19:6-10).
He takes our prayers to the Father and sympathises with our weaknesses
Jesus is actively our Prophet, Priest and King. As our priestly mediator, he speaks to us through his word (Heb. 4:12) and takes our prayers to the Father when we pray in his name (John 14:13) which brings glory to the Father.
More than that, Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The fact that he understands our sufferings and weaknesses gives us the confidence to “draw near to the throne of grace”.
He is actively welcoming the saints into his eternal presence
By welcoming the saints who have died into heaven, he wipes their tears away with the hands that was pierced for them. In the book of Revelation, we are given a clear and affectionate insight into what Christ will do for his people who are on earth. It says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). Even though this is yet to happen, we can only assume that those who have already died and entered into his presence have already had their tears wiped away as well as having their pains, mourning and suffering removed.
He has and is preparing a place for his people
Jesus told his disciples the following in John 14:1-3, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Some translations use the word “mansions” or “dwelling place” instead of “rooms”. The Greek word is μονή (monē) which simply means a localised place for dwelling or rest. The focus is not on the type of room (or mansion) that is prepared, but rather, on who is preparing a place.
The preparing a place for us has been achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the preparation continues in his intercession but also in his promise that his people will abide with him forever (John 15:4). The real prize of heaven is not the ‘room’, but Christ himself. Our place is being prepared for us by the fact that Jesus is already there ready to open the door when we knock.
He is patiently awaiting his return
There is an appointed time for the return of Christ. That time is not known to us, but it is known by him. The author to the Hebrews says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Heb. 10:13). He is arranging all the events necessary for his return in order to bring all things that must happen to pass according to his sovereign providence as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Christ will continue to reign from his throne until he has finished saving his people, teaching them obedience and holiness, overturning the spiritual forces and powers opposing his reign, and taking the gospel to every nation (Mark 13:10).
Written by: Pastor Gwydion