by Rev Jason Phua
Readings: Hebrews 1:1-14; Psalms 52:1-9
READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Hebrews 1:3-4 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
Hebrews chapter 1 is about the supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here, Jesus is compared to two groups of people: (1) the prophets and (2) the angels. We are told that Jesus is far superior than the prophets because as anointed as they were, they spoke words that were told to them by God. However, Jesus came as the incarnate Word of God and fulfilled all that has been said through His life, death, resurrection and ascension.
Jesus is also far superior than the angels. Even as the angels are powerful and divine beings; they were messengers sent to serve the people for salvation. However, Christ is Himself the message sent to die for and save those who believe. The supremacy of Jesus; greater than any angel or prophet is summarized in verse 3 which says: “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”
Now what does that mean? “Jesus sat down”?
The phrase “Jesus sat down” is not just a movement or a place of exaltation, but it is a great word picture of completion or fulfilment. When Jesus exclaimed “tetelestai” (It is finished!) on the cross; Jesus meant that His mission to atone for the sins of the world is finished. It is completely and absolutely done. There is no longer any need for anyone else to atone for anything. There is no longer a need for the priests in Leviticus to keep standing and offering sacrifices as sin offering to atone for the sins of the people. Jesus sat down. It is done. Completely. Absolutely. Perfectly.
What does these three words mean to us? “Jesus sat down”?
Are we fully convinced that Jesus has completely and absolutely done what is necessary to atone for our sins? Or are we still prone to self-atonement? We self-atone when we try to make ourselves feel ok or even justified for our sins.
Maybe some of us are prone to gossiping about others. So we try to convince ourselves that it’s not really gossiping but just being prayerfully concerned for a colleague or a friend. Or maybe some of us struggle with lust of the eyes and we try to convince ourselves that it is not lust but merely an appreciation of the beauty of God’s creation. Or as leaders, there might be times when we tell ourselves, hey it is not really for personal glory or agenda; but just what needed to be done as a strong leader of the church.
Whatever form it takes, self-atonement only serves as a stumbling block to what Jesus had done on the cross. This is because God’s Word alone is the yardstick to measure what is sin or what is not. As persons who can only be holy through the blood and grace of a holy God, we cannot self-atone. Self-atonement is both oxymoronic and deeply deceitful.
The big problem is that when we self-atone, we deceive ourselves that we are not sinning. So even in our sin, we will not seek God for forgiveness. As time goes, we get ourselves even more vulnerable to the lies of the evil one or our own hearts. Someday, we might even find ourselves so deceived that we fall into what the author of Hebrews said to the Christians: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12)
So … when we find ourselves self-atoning for what is sin; we need to remember these three words: “Jesus sat down“. He has done it. It is finished. We need not pretend. We need not deceive ourselves. Call it sin, ask for forgiveness, repent, move on and grow.
God’s provision for you and me is complete. There is no need to make ourselves feel better through self-deception or seeking acknowledgement of others by putting on a mask. Come clean, find confidence in His love, surrender to His atonement and celebrate that amazing grace that is yours, right here, right now. Jesus sat down.
Lord, thank you for Your amazing grace. Help me not to self-atone but to surrender to Your complete and perfect atonement for my sins as well as the capacity to grow in You. Amen.