In Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, Jesus says to the High Priest, “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God.” In the Apostle’s Creed we confess, “On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of God.” That’s the common language of the church and in the Bible.
And yet what does Stephen see as stated at the end of Acts 7? “Behold I see the heavens open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Standing! Now you might think well what’s the difference? He’s seated, he’s standing. It’s not a big deal. But no, this language of being seated at the right hand of God is so common and almost liturgical that mentioning a standing Christ is surely here for a reason.
So why is Jesus standing instead of sitting?
It is for this reason: He has stood to receive Stephen’s testimony and to be his advocate. He has stood that he might come forward to be the judge of those who will trample upon God’s prophet. Jesus is rising from his throne to come to Stephen’s defense and to judge his persecutors.
It is the plain fact of Scripture, whether we want to believe it or not: everyone is appointed to die and after that this comes judgment (Heb. 9:27).
Jesus says in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon bringing my recompense with me to repay everyone for what he has done.” Everyone will stand before the throne to face the risen Christ. And it will not be a light thing. When you are there and you see the Son of Man, in all his glory and splendor and majesty and power, rise from his throne and stand before you, you will not laugh your way into heaven. You will not have a couple witty rejoinders and a little bit of snark and a few good one liners. He will not be impressed with all the reasons you have of why you ignored him: “You gave me bad parents!” “I didn’t know any better!” “My life was unfair.” When the Son of Man rises from his throne he will not consider our apathy, our disobedience, our unbelief to be a light thing in his presence. He is not a tame lion.
He stood to vindicate Stephen, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.