Today’s title (His Upstanding Session) is not about your elders, even though we are described as a session when we are figuratively seated in our official capacity, to make decisions on your behalf and on Christ’s behalf. His Upstanding Session is meant to be about Jesus Christ … because I want to speak of Him today. Now our Savior’s hyper-critics will have a minor gripe about His word (the holy Scriptures), as they point out a seeming inconsistency concerning His situation: “So is Jesus (right now) standing, or is He sitting?!”
Several Bible verses do describe Jesus Christ standing. Acts 6 introduces us to Stephen (the Evangelist); at the close of Stephen’s days down here, he is given a vision of the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand. But even more Bible verses teach us that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So if the multiple Bible authors cannot get even this simple reporting job done with accuracy, why should we trust them for even deeper truths and questions?!
Well, what does it mean, for Jesus to be sitting down? I suggest that this physical description is meant to bring up strong symbols for your attention. To organize many Biblical truths, let us consider Jesus in His famous three-fold office (Prophet, Priest, and King). A sitting prophet (that is, a prophet who has assumed the posture of sitting before his listeners) is ready to teach. We see Jesus doing so in synagogues, and the Apostle Paul follows that pattern. This is not because Paul learned it from Jesus but because that was the traditional posture for a teacher to assume. Jesus Christ, sitting down, is teaching us today (through the Scriptures, His Holy Spirit, the faithful church, and even providential history as it plays out across time).
A sitting priest is resting after a diligent day of sacrificing ~ working hard with needy people and a staff-in-training and unwilling animals. Of course, Jesus as God does not tire in well-doing, but His “it is finished” does put a kind of seal and conclusion to one aspect of His high priestly work, in that the all-sufficient Sacrifice is made and the price for redemption is paid, so the Priest who offered that blood may sit down ~ satisfied in the Father’s satisfaction.
A sitting king is not tired, sleeping, or lazing through the day! No, a king’s session is a symbol of his enthronement, authority, and powerful reign. Picture this king as a judge, with the oppressed and needy citizens coming into his throne-room ~ to make appeals for justice, or mercy, or resources. Jesus is sitting today as King of kings (along with His Father), resourcing His church and guiding His Kingdom.
And yet, Jesus is standing too (physically, really, and symbolically). As our great Prophet (who would typically sit down to teach), Jesus Christ has always shown Himself to be the kind of Teacher who enjoys walking around … going out into His world, leading His disciples into fields of ministry, teaching them as they go. This symbolic image of Jesus (the instructing Prophet walking around) serves as a reminder to all of His learners that the truths we hear from our Teacher are meant to be applied and worked out, for service to all.
Jesus as our upstanding Priest is still busy ministering in that tabernacle not made with hands, in the heavenlies, where today He enjoys direct access to the holy Father’s generous heart. While the blood sacrifice is over and done (never to be repeated), the mediation rights purchased with that blood continue to benefit both sinners and saints (saints who sin!). When we read that Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us, we must see Jesus ~ our Great High Priest ~ standing, moving, praying, and serving.
Even so, a standing king is not giving up his throne, but he is expanding his reign as he leads his loyal troops in battle. We need such attentive protection, but are glad to learn (from the Catechisms) that this Warrior-King restrains and conquers all of His and our enemies, even as He subdues our own rebellious hearts under His reign of truth.
Praise the Lord, then, that Jesus is both sitting and standing, ever advancing His good cause.