This Post Originally Appeared in 2016
Several months ago, I was preparing a Bible study for my life group about the Beatitudes from chapter 5 in the book of Matthew. As I read the first verse from the fifth chapter, something struck me; it tells us, Jesus sat. That seemed odd to me; I've always imagined Jesus standing up while he preached the sermon on the mount. Apparently, for several years, I'd simply glossed over the first verse. The very next day, I was in Sunday school class studying the book of Mark. The gentleman leading our class made it a point to draw our attention to the very first verse which tells us that Jesus sat in the boat as He began to teach the parables in the fourth chapter. “What a strange thing?” I thought. So many people were there to see Jesus and yet, He sat down. Why would He do that? For that matter, why did the gospel writers find it necessary to point it out?
I wondered and I began searching, how often did Jesus sit and what was He doing when He sat? The overwhelming answer: He taught. He taught in the temple.(John 8) He taught His parables.(Mark 4) He taught that Scripture was being fulfilled.(Luke 4) He was anointed in the Pharisee's home(Luke 7) and in the home of Simon the Leper(Matt. 26), but the end result of each instance was a poignant lesson from the Master. As He sat exhausted and thirsty from His midday travels through Samaria, He taught the woman at the well.(John 4) Jesus was a teacher, a rabbi, who sat with His students.
The overarching narrative of the Bible is a carefully woven tapestry and, within it, the Holy Spirit crafted wonderful contrasting moments from which we can draw beautiful and meaningful lessons. The first account of Jesus sitting was as a young, energetic boy, zealously sitting in the temple, listening to the teachers of the Law and asking questions. But in the final hours of His life, after being beaten and no doubt weakened and depleted of all energy, Jesus stood before Pilate. Pilate was the one sitting this time. He sat in the judgment seat, a seat neither he nor anyone else could rightfully occupy in the presence of Christ Jesus. Yet, Pilate sat, while Jesus stood...alone. Not one of His disciples was with Him. His closest companions for the last three years were cowering away, in fear for their own lives... helpless. But, it had to be this way. Only by being alone could Jesus be the perfect sacrifice, and only in solitude could Jesus, our High Priest, enter the holy of holies to make the final offering.
And so, He allowed Himself to be hung on the cross where He eventually spoke the final words, "It is finished." Then, completing the circle, Hebrews 10:12-14 tells us, "He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."
It’s always nice to connect a few dots, but what are we to do with this knowledge? For that, we should look at the book of Deuteronomy. In the eleventh chapter God gives the command, through Moses, "to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul..." Then a few verses later, our Heavenly Father has a few more words for His people about sitting...and standing. Verses 18 & 19 tell us, "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul...You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up."
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