"You Will See the Son of Man Seated at the Right Hand of Power and Coming on the Clouds of Heaven"

Palm Sunday

But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

The high priest of Jesus' own people demanded that he declare himself under oath: "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God" (Matthew 26:63). In other words, "Are you the Messiah, the Promised One, the very Son of God?" And Jesus responded, "You have said so."

What Did Jesus Mean by "You Have Said So"? 

What does that mean? "You have said so." Does it mean "Yes" or "No" or something more? We get a clue by looking back at verse 25. Here Jesus is at the Last Supper with the twelve. He has just said in verse 20, "One of you will betray me." In verse 25 Judas says, "Is it I, Master?" And Jesus says, "You have said so." This is the very phrase used to answer the high priest in verse 64.

But here it's pretty obvious what it means. It probably means: "Yes, Judas, you are the one; and you know that you are the one." Jesus knows he is the one and he knows that he is the one. "You have said so" is an indirect way of saying Yes, and at the same time calling attention to what the other person really knows deep down. "YOU have said so." Your words betray something deep within you that is being concealed, perhaps even concealed from yourself. "YOU have said so. Something in you knows the answer to your question. Deep inside you see that it is so and you fear that it is so, and so you ask defensively and skeptically whether it is so. Your heart betrays you; you have seen that it is so. And you say so."

An Illustration of This in Our Society Today 

Are there any illustrations of this in our society today—instances of deeply knowing a truth and yet feeling so threatened by that truth that we deny it (even perhaps call it blasphemy) and yet can't deny it fully? One of the most amazing and terrible instances of this in our society was in the newspaper on Thursday.

The Tragic Story from Thursday's Newspaper

Perhaps you read or heard the tragic story of Shelly Cazin and Justin Bauer, two teenagers who had a pact to commit suicide together. They went to their spot in the woods and Shelly put the .44-Magnum rifle in her mouth and asked Justin to help her have the nerve to do it. He counted to three. But she couldn't do it. Then he changed his mind and tried to talk her out of it. She would not give in. As he turned to walk away, she pulled the trigger. Instead of running for help, he covered her with brush and walked away.

That was 1987 and Shelly was 6½ months pregnant. On Wednesday last week the jury acquitted Justin Bauer of murdering his girlfriend, but found him guilty of aiding a suicide, and of "inadvertently murdering the fetus during the commission of a felony." The four-year-old Minnesota fetal homicide law carries a much stiffer penalty than the penalty for aiding a suicide. Bauer could receive more than 12 years of prison for the fetal homicide but receive probation for the assistance in the suicide.

The Sentence That Jumped Off the Page

As I read this story, one sentence screamed from the page of the newspaper. Listen to this sentence and wonder! "THE LAW MAKES IT MURDER TO KILL AN EMBRYO OR FETUS INTENTIONALLY, EXCEPT IN CASES OF ABORTION." Think about that for a moment. We have some laws that condemn the killing of a fetus as murder, and we have some laws that condone the killing of a fetus as abortion. Why is this? Is it because some fetuses are human beings and some aren't? Is it because some have done something to deserve killing and some haven't? Is it because some are tragically deformed and some aren't? No. None of those suggestions explains why the law calls some killing of fetuses illegal murder and some legal abortion.

Only one thing explains the paradoxical laws: in the one case the mother has chosen for the fetus to live, and in the other case the mother has chosen for the fetus to die. The reason it is a crime to kill a fetus in the one case is because the mother doesn't want it killed. The reason it is not a crime to kill the fetus in the other case is because the mother chooses to have it killed. In the one case the law treats the fetus as a human with rights; in the other case the law treats the fetus as non-human with no rights. The difference? Nothing in the fetus. The fetus is the same in both cases. The difference is the choice of the woman who bears the fetus.

Do you see what this means? It means that according to our laws in Minnesota the humanness of a fetus is determined from case to case not on the basis of its qualities but on the basis of the choice of the woman who carries it. Or to put it another way: the killing of this fetus is murder or not murder, legal or illegal, right or wrong NOT on the basis of anything in the fetus but solely on the basis of one person's choice to call it right or wrong. According to our laws if she says it is right for the fetus to be killed, it is right. If she says it is wrong for the fetus to be killed, it is wrong. You can see, can't you, that the end of this road (laid out in our laws) is anarchy: each one defining what is "right" on the basis of what he or she wants to be right?

The Connection to Jesus' Words

Now here's the point: No one who endorses this way of thinking lives by it. No one who makes her choice the criterion of another's humanness or rights will let you make your choice the criterion of her humanness or rights. No one who says, "My fetus is not human and has no rights because I don't want it around," will let you say to her, "You are not human and have no rights because I don't want you around."

Deep down everyone knows this truth—that the difference between right and wrong, true and false, murder and justified killing is rooted in something greater and more objective than an individual's choice. We knew this truth. We might suppress and deny it while we are the strong. But as soon as we are the weak victim, we demand that it be so. When our lives or our comforts are at stake, we demand that right and wrong be defined by our humanity, our dignity, our rights, not by another's desire or choice. We know the truth. No matter how we may conceal it (even from ourselves) because it threatens our personal plans, we know it. And if Jesus were here and we asked him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us: Are these fetuses human? Do they have the right to live?" I think Jesus would say, "You have said so. Your laws cry loudly. Your lives reveal what your words conceal."

So the mentality of the high priest is still with us. Deep down we know so much truth that we fear and therefore deny. We sense in the depth of our souls that Jesus is the true Messiah and Lord, and that the unborn are true human beings; but the truth is so threatening to our sovereign self-determination or just to our way of life, that we hold down the truth and even become blind to what we know.

How Jesus Responds to Our Willful Blindness 

How does Jesus respond to this blindness? What does he say to the high priest? He says, The time is coming when YOU WILL SEE! YOU WILL SEE! The day is coming when the truth will come to light.

Verse 64: "Jesus said to him, 'You have said so.' But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Four Great Reversals to Come 

Here are four great reversals that Jesus says are coming. Listen carefully. Your future hangs on these things more than on finances or family or health or job or world peace. The truth and triumph of Jesus are the most important issues in the world. What does Jesus say this Palm Sunday? He says there are going to be four great reversals. The high priest will see them all, and you will see them all.

1. You Will See the Son of Man

First Jesus says to the high priest, "In your blindness you say that I am not the Christ, the Son of God. But I say to you, You will see the Son of Man . . . "

Do you know what this term means? It is a reference to the vision in Daniel 7:13–14.

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

That is the meaning of the term Son of Man. "You deny that I am the Christ. But the truth is I am vastly more than the Christ that you know of. It may appear for now that I have no kingdom, no glory, no dominion while I suffer. But truly I say to you, YOU WILL SEE. You have said so." That's the first reversal.

2. Seated

Second, Jesus says to the high priest, "In your blindness you say that I am on trial here. You say that you are sitting to judge me and I am standing as the defendant. But I say to you, "You will see the Son of Man seated . . . "

We have all seen films of olden days when there were kings. And in the royal court the king always sat. He sat with one leg casually stretched out in front of him and leaning with one elbow on the arm of his royal chair while his servants stand around him and the defendant stands before him.

In the days of his suffering Jesus was made to stand. He was the accused. He was charged and found guilty and sentenced to death, though he had never done one sin. But there is coming another great reversal. Jesus tells the high priest that the Son of Man will be seated. He will not be the defendant in that day; he will be the judge. Matthew 25:31 says, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. And before him will be gathered all the nations" (including this high priest and you and me). "I stand in the dock on trial today. But in that day I will sit in the seat of the Judge of all the earth. YOU WILL SEE. You have said so." That's the second reversal.

3. At the Right Hand of Power

Third, Jesus says to the high priest, "In your blindness you say that I am a blasphemer. You say that I am guilty of treason and that God is dishonored by my claim. But I say to you, 'You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power.'"

"You say God's foot is on my neck, that I am under his judgment, that he is angry at me. But the day is coming when I will sit not only in his presence but in the place of highest honor—at the very right hand of the Almighty. And YOU WILL SEE this. You have said so." That's the third reversal.

4. Alive and Coming on the Clouds of Heaven

And finally, Jesus says to the high priest, "In your blindness you say that I am to be killed. You sentence me to death, to do away with me, to make an end of me. But I say to you, Things are not what they seem. You will not make an end of me; you will see the Son of Man alive and coming on the clouds of heaven."

"You know what I meant when I said, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again. And I will not only rise from the dead, I will reign in heaven at the right hand of God. And I will not only reign in heaven, I will come again on the clouds with power and great glory. I will send out my angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather my elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. And YOU YOURSELVES WILL SEE THIS. You have said so." That's the fourth reversal.

Own Up to the Truth You Know Already 

My heart's desire this morning as I speak to you is that you all would own up to the deep sense of Christ's truth that is already in your heart. I am persuaded that if Jesus were to stand forth visibly in this room this morning and you were to ask him, "Are you really the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the ruler of the universe, the Judge of all the earth before whom every man and woman must give an account?" he would answer, "You have said so." We do not need more proof. We need to yield in every part our life to what we already know. For whatever the church, whatever the cause of Christ looks like now, there are coming some great reversals.

Thumb author john piper

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

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