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  • Peter Clayton

Verse for the week: Hebrews 10:11-12


“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.”

The link between the completion of salvation and “sitting down” recurs in Scripture. The author of Hebrews makes a similar point at 1:13 when comparing the ministry of the Son of God with that of angels – “And to which of the angels has he (God) ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?’” Psalm 110:1 also has “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’”

The last part of Mark’s Gospel may be disputed but includes references consistent with other Scripture – “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19)

There are several vitally important truths encapsulated in these Scripture passages.

Firstly, when Jesus died on the cross, offering an eternal sacrifice for sin, it was an act which was wholly sufficient and never to be repeated. The Book of Common Prayer Service of Holy Communion refers to the death of Christ thus, “who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world;” We can add nothing to his sacrificial death, rather with the deepest of gratitude we receive the benefits of eternal salvation which he has lavished upon us.

Secondly the acceptability and effectiveness of Christ’s self-offering on the cross was affirmed in that he was seated at the right hand of the Father in glory. His work of salvation was complete and he accepted the place of honour. His presence and his place were testimony to his work. He did not need, in some mysterious way, to plead his sacrifice – it was evident and accepted in his position of honour.

Thirdly, despite the absolute acceptability of his self-offering there is something else yet implied. “until…enemies…footstool” which looks forward to the final and absolute rout of the enemies of our Lord and of Satan in particular. That event is yet to come, he will return in glory, accompanied by angel hosts and the redeemed. But please don’t speculate about that. The early recipients of the Book of Acts will have probably understood the futility of such speculation – the Apostles asked a related question about timing and were told unequivocally, “”It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7) Be ready at all times to meet your Lord – but remember the stipulations of the Word of God.

He sat down – he finished his work – he is glorified – he reigns. (RS)

(For your interest there should be a short paper addressing the importance of orthodox Biblical truth in regard to the return of Christ in the Blog on the Church Website. Unsurprisingly erroneous teaching can emerge at difficult times and it is important to remain faithful to the Scriptures.)

“Glorious things of you are spoken, Zion, city of our God;

He whose word cannot be broken formed you for his own abode:

On the rock of ages founded, what can shake your sure repose?

With salvation’s walls surrounded you may smile at all your foes.

Saviour, since of Zion’s city I through grace a member am,

Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in your name;

Fading are the world’s best pleasures, all its boasted pomp and show;

Solid joys and lasting treasures none but Zion’s children know.

(John Newton)

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