"From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting ..." (Matthew 26:64)

"But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:54)

What does 'sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One' mean?

Here Jesus is continuing to answer to those Temple chief priests who had Jesus arrested. They have been questioning him as to his position and authority.

Jesus was not saying that he will literally sit at the right side of God - as though the Supreme Being is always just sitting around on a throne all day.

This expression "right hand" is translated from the Greek word δεξιός (dexios). This Greek term can mean "right hand," but also, "a place of honor or authority," referring to the honor given by a person in the servitude position.

This terminology has continued to some degree into modern English. To "sit at someone's right hand" means to directly serve that person. It means to carry out their wishes. Nowadays, the head of a company or institution might call someone who is committed to them and carries out their orders as "my right-hand person."

And when that head of company or institution is away, the "right hand" person is typically given authority to represent that head of company or institution.

In this context, Jesus is saying that he will assume his position of being the right hand of God. That means he is God's devoted servant.

Jesus is stating clearly that this is his role. He is God's trusted servant and His representative. Jesus is carrying out God's wishes.

Why does Jesus refer to the 'Son of Man' in the third person?

One might then ask, wasn't Jesus being self-righteous as he called himself "Son of Man" and spoke that he would sit at the right hand of God?

Actually, it is quite the opposite. First, "Son of Man" is a mistranslation in this context. What is a "Son of Man" anyway? Every male is a son of a man. So this has no real meaning translated as such.

Rather, "Son of Man" is being translated from the Greek phrase υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. The first Greek word, υἱὸν, can indicate an offspring relationship within the context of a physical family, but Jesus is not referencing a physical family here - otherwise, he would be referring to his physical father.

The appropriate translation of υἱὸν in this context, according to the Greek lexicon, relates to "one of the posterity of any one" and "one who depends on another or is his follower." Thus, υἱὸν can be boiled down to either "follower," dependent, "disciple," or "servant." In other words, it is a humble, self-deprecating statement relating to devotional servitude.

The Greek word τοῦ indicates possessive, and is appropriately translated to "of".

The Greek word, ἀνθρώπου can be translated to "man" as well as "mankind" or "humanity" according to the lexicon. "Mankind" or "humanity" is most appropriate within the context.

Thus, the more appropriate translation of υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπουm would be: Servant of humanity. One could also translate this to Servant of the people.

This is consistent with Jesus' other statements elsewhere that he has come as a service to all of humanity. Jesus also spoke of himself as a servant to others, and he also instructed his disciples to serve others:
"Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." (Mark 10:43)
This humble self-reference as the servant of humanity was not limited to Jesus. Other messengers of God also referred to themselves in this same way:
"O Lord, what is man that you care for him, the Son of Man [servant of humanity] that you think of him?" (Psalm 144:3)
While some have tried to misinterpret David's statement as referring to Jesus, the verses surrounding this make it obvious that David is referring to himself as the servant of humanity - pleading humbly as to why God would even consider him.

Job also humbly referred to himself as a servant of humanity when he prayed:
"how much less man, who is but a maggot - a Son of Man [servant of humanity], who is only a worm!" (Job 25:6)
God also referred to Ezekiel as the servant of humanity over 60 times, with statements such as:
"He said to me, "Son of Man [servant of humanity], stand up on your feet and I will speak to you."" (Ezekiel 2:1)
"He [God] said: "Son of man [servant of humanity}, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against Me to this very day." (Ezekiel 2:3)
In this last verse, we see that God referred to Ezekiel as the servant of humanity as He was sending him to teach to the Israelites on His behalf. This is the quintessential servant of humanity: Sent by God to help (as a service to) humankind.

Jesus also referred to himself as being sent by the Supreme Being:
"I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the One who sent me." (John 7:33)
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me." (John 7:16)
and many others.

Thus we find within Jesus' answer to the institutional temple priests a true yet humble statement about his position and authority. He didn't consider himself a big powerful high priest out to capture the respect and admiration of others, as were the institutional temple priests. He saw himself simply as a humble loving servant of God and a servant of all people.

Why are they questioning Jesus' authority?

Is Jesus not also a rabbi? Is Jesus not also teaching about God - the same Supreme Being that the institutional temple priests supposedly taught about?

Jesus is condemning these priests because they are not humbly representing or serving God. They were misleading people.

Furthermore, is Jesus not teaching the same teachings taught by Moses, David, and other Jewish Prophets - the very same prophets that the institutional temple chief priests supposedly represented in their teachings?

The problem is that Jesus' teachings threatened their authority. The chief priests were appointed by the institutional temple hierarchy during that time. Jesus was not. Jesus was simply a student and disciple of John the Baptist, who was himself a student and disciple of his teacher, the priest Zachariah.

Because Jesus was not part of their institutional hierarchy - and was an empowered teacher of God, Jesus threatened their authority.

Why did Jesus threaten their authority? Because Jesus was attracting many followers who saw the truth in Jesus' teachings. Jesus was taking followers away from the institutional temples. And this means Jesus was taking their income and followers away.

You see, the institutional temple priests were professional priests. They collected salaries for their positions from the temple organization, and lived in comfortable quarters, all supported by monies brought in from followers - which were not always voluntary:
"Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." (Mark 12:38-40)
When the man of a household died, the temple priests confiscated the house and belongings of the widow, often leaving the widow homeless.

We can see Jesus' other issues with these professional priests. Their concerns were centered around their reputation. They wanted to be honored and respected. They were not interested in glorifying and serving God. They were interested in their own authority and reputation.

In contrast, Jesus walked the countryside with no home and no income. He survived on whatever was given voluntarily in service, and spent his time glorifying God and teaching about love of God. He had no organization for people to join. They either followed his teachings or they did not.

So in Jesus' answer to these priests, he clarifies his position in relation to the Supreme Being and the spiritual realm.

What does 'coming on the clouds of heaven' mean?

When put together with the concept of "clouds of heaven," how could a person "come" on the "clouds of heaven"? Does this even make sense?

Some sectarian doctrines have envisioned an image of Jesus riding over the clouds, sometimes on horseback.

The word "coming" is being translated from the Greek word ἔρχομαι (erchomai). This word can mean to "come from one place to another." But it also means "to appear, make one's appearance, come before the public" according to the lexicon.

However, when used metaphorically (consistent with Jesus' "right hand" phrase), this term means "to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find place or influence."

This might make for good art, but it is not what Jesus is referring to. Today we have airplanes and spaceships that fly through the clouds, and we can see that heaven is not in the clouds. Nor are there people sitting on the clouds or riding over them as imagined by some of these institutions.

Rather, the word "clouds" is being translated from the Greek word νεφέλη (nephelē), which refers to "cloud" as an envelopment or atmosphere.

There must be an understanding of the spiritual realm here. The type of "cloud" Jesus is referring to in "clouds of heaven" refers to the atmosphere of the spiritual realm.

And "coming" is a mistranslation interpreted to insinuate an impending "second coming" together with an apocalypse that scares people to join and remain part of the sect.

Scaring people by warning them of an impending apocalypse has been part of a strategy to manipulate followers over the centuries. Even today, even though none of the apocalypse predictions have come true over the centuries, they still threaten followers with an impending 'end of the world.' 

The bottom line is that Jesus is simply telling them that the next time they see him, they will see him appearing within the environment of the spiritual realm.

Where is heaven?

Just think of what happens when we are in an airplane, and stuck in a cloud. What happens? We become immersed in that cloud. We become enveloped by the cloud. This immersion or envelopment describes those living beings who reside in the spiritual realm. They are enveloped or immersed in the atmosphere of the spiritual realm.

Consider first the requirement to enter heaven:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
We can see here clearly that the atmosphere of heaven is love. In that dimension, everyone is loving God and loving all of God's children and associates. The residents of the spiritual realm cherish and love the Supreme Being, and this drives them to please Him and do His will.

Jesus also teaches of another characteristic of heaven:
"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4)
By this, we can see that humility is also part of the environment of the spiritual realm. Its residents maintain ultimate humility. And this is why Jesus also clarified that the institutional temple priests would not be entering the spiritual realm anytime soon:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." (Matthew 23:13)
These statements clearly indicate that getting into heaven has nothing to do with deeds. It is not that there is a "pay it forward" thing going on, where we basically have to pay a fee of doing certain activities or joining a certain club in order to get in.

Jesus is clearly stating above that entering heaven has to do with a state of consciousness. A person who loves others, loves God and wants to please God has a particular consciousness. That consciousness would exist where ever the person was dwelling at the time.

This also assumes that the Supreme Being's "kingdom" is everywhere. For God to be "God" He must have the ultimate authority, and therefore everywhere is His kingdom.

This means that the "kingdom of heaven" or just "heaven" is a state of consciousness, rather than a specific place or location.

Sure, there is a dimension where all residents are loving God and loving all of God's children. But those who love God and love all of God's children also travel outside of that dimension - sometimes, like Jesus - to this planet. Therefore, where ever they go is heaven as well, because they are in heaven all the time, regardless of whether they are here or there.

Such a consciousness is reflected in Jesus' teachings. Just consider Jesus' most important teaching, in which he quoted Moses in Deuteronomy 6:5:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)