“After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3)
For those of us who have desk jobs or perform most of our work duties sitting down, it’s easy to miss the importance of this half verse in the letter to the Hebrews. But the fact that Jesus sat down “after making purification for sins” is highly significant and ought to greatly encourage us. Particularly anyone who struggles to receive and accept God’s forgiveness for past sins and failures.
The message of Hebrews could be summed up in three words: Jesus is better. Better than Moses, better than Joshua, better than the Prophets, better than the High Priests, better than Melchizedek, better than the Old Covenant, better than angels. The word better appears a number of times in the letter, with most occurrences referring to Jesus and his work of salvation (e.g. 7:19, 7:22, 8:6, 9:23, 11:40, 12:24). Elsewhere in the letter, the fact that Jesus is better is implied several times.
That Jesus sat down after making purification for sins marks him out as being better than the priests of the Old Testament. Better even than the High Priest. Infinitely better. Why? Well, consider for a moment the intricate instructions given to Moses in Exodus 25-30 concerning the construction of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. All very precise. All very specific.
But one thing that God doesn’t include in his detailed building plans is any provision in the tabernacle for the priests to sit down after they had finished their work of making sacrifices. And there’s a simple explanation for this. Their work was never finished. No, “every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).
By contrast, “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. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12-14). Jesus, then, is the first and only High Priest who was able to sit down after making purification for sins. Because unlike animal sacrifices, which could never take away sins and were always a shadow of an infinitely better sacrifice to come, the one-time single offering of Jesus the Lamb of God has dealt with sin once for all.
So the next time you doubt God’s forgiveness for past sins – even for those repeated failures that cause you to mourn and weep over your weakness and frailty – tell yourself this: Jesus, after making purification for sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. And that’s where he is now. Still seated. Perpetually interceding with God on your behalf. But no longer making sacrifices, because by a single offering he “has perfected” (past tense!) all who are trusting in him. As he declared on the cross “it is finished” (John 19:30).