Life can be tough for left-handed folks! Weirdly, there is a long history of anti-left-hand bias in much of the world stretching way back into antiquity. Consider these examples from a fascinating post entitled “History of Handedness—Ancient History.”
- “There is some evidence that all of the early great civilizations of the world—from the ancient Mesopotamians to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans—have been strongly biased towards the right hand. The right hand of the gods was considered to be healing and beneficent, while their left hand was used for curses or inflicting injury. The strongly anti-left Ancient Egyptians often depicted their enemies as left-handed while they were the righteous dextrals.”
- “Plato…went so far as to blame left-handedness on inept mothers and nurses who failed to adequately school their children in the correct way of doing things.”
- “…the Pythagoreans listed ten first principles, each of which consisted of pairs of opposites, and it comes as no surprise that right is listed on the same side as male, straight, light, good, etc, while left is listed alongside female, crooked, darkness and evil…”
- “Alexander the Great…claimed to have conquered a country of left-handed people, although the claim is unsubstantiated.”
- “According to some, wearing a wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand originated with the Romans, the idea being to fend off evil associated with the left-hand…”
This phenomenon is reflected also in scripture. In Matthew 6:3, Jesus says, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Notice it is the right hand that is giving to the needy and the left hand is being told to mind its own business! Consider too, in Matthew 25, where the sheep (the saved) and the goats (the lost) are situated.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Again, life can be tough for the left-handed! But in all seriousness, the right hand as an ancient symbol of power and authority is important for us to grasp when it comes to our understanding of what used to be called “the session” of Christ. Kevin J. Vanhoozer writes of “the session”:
The early church rightly understood that the drama of Christ includes his ascension, entry into heaven, and heavenly session (Lat. sessio = sitting down) at the right hand of the Father. Jesus’ session was an important part of apostolic teaching, figuring prominently in both the Apostles’ Creed and the earlier Roman Creed: sedet ad dexteram patris.
So “the session” of Jesus refers to the sitting down of Jesus at the right hand of the Father. Hebrews 10 gives us one of many examples of this.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God
But, in fact, Jesus is not always depicted as “sitting” at the Father’s hand. Sometimes He is depicted as “at” the Father’s right hand or even “standing” there. Regardless, His “sitting” there is the traditional and dominant image and it carries with it numerous implications. For this reason, it is important that we understand it.