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THE SESSION OF CHRIST AT GOD'S RIGHT HAND.
"When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Heb. 1:3.
Christ having finished his whole work on earth, and returned again to his Father, assumes the seat prepared for him at God's right hand. How is his condition changed within a few days! Here he groaned, wept, labored, suffered, and found no rest: there he enters into rest, sits down for ever in the highest throne, prepared by the Father for him when he should have done his work.
The design of the epistle to the Hebrews is to demonstrate Christ to be the fulness of all legal types and ceremonies, and that whatever light glimmered to the world through them, was but as the light of the day-star to the light of the sun. In this chapter Christ is described, and in this third verse particularly,
1. By his essential and primeval glory and dignity, he is "the brightness of his Father's glory," the very refulgency of that Sun of glory. As the sun communicates its light and influence to us by its beams; so doth God communicate his goodness, and manifest himself by Christ. Yea, he is "the express image," or character, of his person."
2. He is described by the work he wrought here on earth, in his humbled state. It was a glorious work, and wrought by his own single hand, "when he had by himself purged our sins." A work that all the angels in heaven could not do.
3. He is described by his glory, which, as a reward of that work, he now enjoys in heaven. "When he had
by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" that is, the Lord clothed him with the greatest power, and highest honor, that heaven itself could afford. Hence,
When our Lord Jesus Christ had finished his work on earth, he was placed in the seat of the highest honor and authority at the right hand of God in heaven. This truth is transformingly glorious. Stephen had but a glimpse of Christ at his Father's right hand, and it caused "his face to shine as it had been the face of an angel." Acts, 6: 15. This high advancement was foretold and promised before he undertook the work of redemption. "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Psalm 110 1. And this promise was performed to Christ after his resurrection and ascension, in his supreme exaltation, far above all created beings in heaven and earth. Eph. 1: 20-22. We shall here inquire what is meant by God's right hand; and what is implied in Christ's sitting there, his enemies being made his footstool.
I. What are we to understand here by God's right hand? It is obvious that the expression is figurative. God hath no hand, right or left; but it is an expression, in which God stoops to the creature's understanding, implying honor, power, and nearness.
1. The right hand is the hand of honor, where we place those whom we highly esteem. Solomon placed his mother in a seat at his right hand. 1 Kings, 2: 19. So in token of honor, God sets Christ at his right hand; called in the text, the right hand of Majesty. God therein expressed favor, delight, and honor, such as he never conferred on any creature. "To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit thou on my right hand?" Heb. 1: 13.
2. The right hand is also the hand of power; and the
setting of Christ there, imports his exaltation to the highest authority, and most supreme dominion. Not that God the Father hath put himself out of his authority, and advanced Christ above himself; no, "when he saith he hath put all things under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him." 1 Cor. 15:27. But to sit as an enthroned King at God's right hand, imports power, yea, the most sovereign and supreme power; which is implied in the language of Christ himself: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power." Matt. 26: 64.
3. It also signifies nearness of place, and so it is applied to Christ, Psalm 110: 5, "The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath ;" that is, the Lord, who is very near thee, present with thee, he shall subdue thine enemies.
II. Let us see what is implied in Christ's sitting at God's right hand, his enemies being made his footstool.
1. It implies the perfecting and completing of Christ's work, for which he came into the world. After his work was ended, then he sat down and rested from those labors. "Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God." Heb. 10:11, 12. Here he assigns a double difference between Christ and the Levitical priests; they stand, which is the posture of servants; he sits, which is the posture of a Lord. They offer daily, because their sacrifices cannot take away sin; he did his work fully, by one offering; and after that, sits or rests for ever in heaven.
2. His sitting at God's right hand shows the high satisfaction of God the Father in him, and in his work. "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand;" the words are introduced as the words of the Father
welcoming Christ to heaven, and, as it were, congratulating the happy accomplishment of his most difficult work. He delighted greatly to behold him here in his work on earth, as expressed by a voice from the excellent glory, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 2 Pet. 1: 17. And himself tells us, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life," John, 10: 17; it was a work dear to the heart of God from eternity; he took infinite delight in it
3. Christ's sitting at God's right hand in heaven, shows the advancement of Christ's human nature to the highest honor, even to be the object of adoration to angels and men. For it is properly his human nature that is the subject of all this honor and advancement; and being advanced to the right hand of Majesty, it is become an object of worship and adoration. Not simply as it is flesh and blood, but as it is personally united to the Second Person and enthroned in the supreme glory of heaven.
Oh here is the mystery, that flesh and blood should ever be advanced to the highest throne of Majesty, and that being there installed in glory, we may now direct our worship to him as God-man; and to this end was his humanity so advanced, that it might be adored and worshipped by all. "The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." And the Father will accept of no honor separate from his honor. Therefore it is added, "He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent him." John, 5: 22, 23. Hence the apostles, in the salutations of their epistles, beg for grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ; and desire the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with the churches.
4. It imports the sovereignty and supremacy of Christ over all the investiture of Christ with authority over
the empire of both worlds; for this belongs to him that sits upon his throne. When the Father said to him, Sit thou at my right hand, he thereby delivered to him the dispensation and economy of the kingdom. He put the awful sceptre of government into his hand. So the apostle interprets it; "He must reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet." 1 Cor. 15: 25. And to this purpose the same apostle accommodates (if not expounds) the words of the psalmist, "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels," that is, in respect to his humbled state on earth, "thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things in subjection under his fect." Heb. 2:7, 8. He is over the spiritual kingdom, the church, absolute Lord. Mat. 28: 18-20. He is also Lord over the providential kingdom, the whole world, Psalm 110:2; and this providential kingdom, being subordinate to his spiritual kingdom, he orders and rules the providential for the advantage and benefit of the spiritual. Eph. 1:22.
5. To sit at God's right hand, his enemies being made his footstool, presents Christ as Conqueror over all his enemies. To have his enemies under his feet, denotes conquest and complete victory. They trampled his name and his saints under their feet, and Christ will tread them under his feet. It is true indeed this victory is incomplete as yet; for now "we see not yet all things put under him, (saith the apostle,) but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor," and that is enough; enough to show that the power of his enemies is broken; and though they make some opposition still, yet it is to no purpose; he is infinitely above them, and they must fall before him; all the power of God stands ready to strike through his enemies. Psalm
6. Christ's sitting in heaven shows us the great and