The Inauguration of Christ’s Heavenly Ministry at Pentecost
By Samuele Bacchiocchi
Pentecost celebrates not only the crowning of Christ’s Paschal sacrifice, but also the inauguration of His heavenly ministry. The ascension constituted the transition from Christ’s redemptive work on earth to His intercessory work in heaven. Upon His ascension, Christ was exalted to a position of honor and dignity by being seated at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:55). As the seating of delegates represents their official installation, so the seating of Christ at the right hand of the Father represents His official enthronement. He himself predicted this exaltation when He appeared before the Sanhedrin: “From now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter explained that the Christ who had been crucified, had been raised from the dead and “exalted at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33).
The “right hand” is a symbol of the supreme honor, power, and authority with which Jesus was invested. By being invited to sit at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34; Eph 1: 20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13), Christ was installed to His heavenly ministry. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is seen as evidence of the official enthronement of Christ to His heavenly ministry (Acts 2:33).
“When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal outpouring was heaven’s communication that the Redeemer’s inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.”
The meaning of “sitting” as intercessory ministry is explained especially in Hebrews 8:1-2, where Christ is presented as the “high priest, . . . seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent.” Through His intercessory ministry, Christ sustains the Church (Rev 1:13, 20), mediates repentance and forgiveness to believers (Acts 5:31; 1 John 2:1-2; 1:9), makes our prayers acceptable to God (John 16:23-24; Rev 8:3), provides us with the invisible and yet real assistance of His angels (Heb 1:14; Rev 5:6; 1:16, 20), and bestows upon us the essential gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33).
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