Riding the Clouds

“Jesus said to him, ‘That’s what you say. Nevertheless, I tell you from now on you will witness the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

(Matthew 26:64)

 

“But Jesus said, ‘I am. and you will see the Son of Man seated on the right hand of power and coming with the clouds from heaven.’”

(Mark 14:62)

 

“‘From now on, the Son of Man will be seated on the right hand of the Power of God.’ So, they all said to him, ‘Are you therefore the Son of God?’ So he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’”

(Luke 22:69-70)

 

So what is it that Jesus is speaking of when he mentions Caiaphas seeing him at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds? In the New Testament, we certainly affirm that this is speaking of Jesus’ ascension to his Father’s side and his return again in judgment (Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 3:22), but how would this make sense from the perspective of one with only the Old Testament scriptures to guide him? In fact, the Old Testament speaks much to this work of the promised Messiah.

To begin with, Psalm 110 speaks of the Messiah seated at the right hand of Yahweh in power until his enemies are crushed beneath his feet (Psalm 110:1, Matthew 22:44), that the Messiah is seated at the right hand of Yahweh (Psalm 110:5) and that he will execute judgment on the nations (Psalm 110:6). Though it is not alluded to here by Jesus, this is the psalm that also speaks of the Messiah being part of the Priesthood of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). In addition, in Daniel’s prophesy of the coming Messiah, he spoke of the “One Like the Son of Man” being given power and dominion over the nations (Daniel 7:13-14).

Even more pronounced is the language of the Messiah walking on the clouds of heaven in judgment. For example, Psalm 104:3 speaks of God making the clouds his chariot, Isaiah 19:1 speaks of God riding a cloud in judgment over Egypt, Nahum 1:3 speaks of God’s was as in a whirlwind and in a storm with the clouds being scattered like dust at his feet, and once again in Daniel 7:13 we find the Messiah descending from the clouds of heaven. God even presents himself to Job in the whirlwind (Job 38:1).

It is clear that in putting these things together, Jesus is identifying himself with the promised Messiah of the Old Testament and based on Caiaphas’ response in the verses that follow, it is clear that he understood Jesus’ reference. But what of Jesus’ reference to Caiaphas seeing him in the clouds? It seems to be a reference to judgment, that in the end, what these wicked priests will receive is wrath and judgment, not glory. When these men passed away from this world the next thing they would see is face Jesus once again, but that time with Jesus in the seat of power and pouring out judgment for their sins — a fearful position, indeed.

Loved ones, recognize that this is not the way one should desire to confront Jesus. The sad thing is that many people we know and care about will see Jesus in exactly that way and we have often been silent about it. May we be warned with the warning that Jesus gives to the Priests, while the believer in Jesus Christ will escape judgment, those who reject Christ as Lord and Savior will taste of God’s wrath.

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