“Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. Then He said, Behold I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.’ After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Therefore refers back to the previous verses regarding the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Psalm 40 is quoted by the writer as a proof text to demonstrate the reality of the types under the Mosaic Law. We also get a glimpse into eternity past as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit worked out the details of the plan of salvation for mankind. In eternity past God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit held “a planning conference” with regard to something that they all “anticipated” (knew) in their omniscience. They anticipated (knew) the fall of angels and the fall of man even though man would be in perfect environment. In anticipation of the fall of man and the problem of spiritual death, the problem of a sin nature, the problem of personal sin, the plan that the Father designed called for a sacrifice; an efficacious sacrifice to reconcile fallen man and perfect God. Every minute detail was planned out and revealed in the Old Testament. God left nothing to chance. His perfect plan would be executed by the perfect Son of God. This is the meaning of when He comes into the world.
God’s justice and righteousness had to be satisfied. Righteousness and justice were satisfied by Christ so that eternal life and love can go through “the grace pipe” to man by way of the Cross. This is the Doctrine of Propitiation. The animal sacrifices could not take away sin, the animal sacrifices could only teach Christ’s work on the Cross in the future.
We begin to see something that the Hebrew believers in Jerusalem in 67 A.D. should have known. The coming Messiah was foretold in the Old Testament (scroll of the book). The entire life of the Messiah (Savior) was spoken of throughout the Old Testament Scriptures: birth of Christ, His sinless life, His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension and His session. There was no valid excuse for not recognizing Christ when He came. The writer picks Psalm 40, but he could have chosen many other Old Testament passages.
And, if it were not enough that Christ was written about in the Old Testament, they had the Levitical system of typology pointing directly to Jesus Christ and no one else. How could they have missed this truth is what the writer is arguing. The plan of God in eternity was not for the types to be the payment for mankind’s sin, but for His Son to accomplish this. Missing this truth was placing these believers in a position of being enemies of God in a state of reversionism.
“Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He having offered one sacrifice for all time, sat down at the right hand of God waiting for that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for Him. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them.’ He then says, ‘And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
Unlike the Levitical priests who never sat down while performing their duties, Jesus Christ sat down at the right hand of the Father because His work was finished. Once and for all the payment for sin had been accomplished by Christ on the Cross.
Forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus Christ led His disciples to a place near Bethany and there He ascended to Heaven. Upon His entrance into Heaven, Jesus Christ was seated at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 1:1-4) The payment for sin by the Lord Jesus Christ was accepted by God the Father as evidenced by the place of honor that He was given in Heaven. This acceptance by the Father also means that the believer is accepted. The believer is also seated (positionally) with Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father. The humanity of Jesus Christ is now higher in order than the angels (while He was on earth His humanity was lower in order than the angels). As believers, we are also positionally higher in order than angels (thus we have guardian angels – they serve us). (Ephesians 1:6, 2:6; Hebrews 1:13-14, 2:9-11, 10:10-14)
The truth of the Ascension can be seen in two ways. First, Jesus predicted that He would ascend into Heaven and return to God the Father. (John 3:13; 6:62; 14:2, 12; 16:5, 10, 17, 28) Second is the event itself, which is described historically in three places - Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11. Once it is reaffirmed in the Epistles. (Ephesians 4:8-9) It is the Acts 1:9-11 passage in particular that gives the most detail. Four key Greek words or terms are used by Luke and Mark to give the details of the Ascension. The first three are found in Acts 1:9-10 and the fourth is found in Mark 16:19.
The first Greek word is “epeérthee,” which means to lift up, showing that the Ascension was upward. Furthermore, the term is in the passive state, showing that the Son was taken up into Heaven by God the Father. The second Greek word is “hupélaben,” which has the concept of being under something else. Jesus was in the atmospheric heaven and was received into the clouds. The point is that the cloud was under Him; He was being supported in the Ascension by the cloud. Of course, the cloud also hid the Ascension from the view of the apostles. The third Greek word is “poreuoménou,” which literally means, as He went. It also means, to pursue a journey. Jesus simply went on a trip. It was a departure in the sense of taking a journey, a departure from the earth and a journey to Heaven. The word conveys both concepts of departure and journey. The aspect of departure means that there was a departure from the earth; the aspect of journey means that it was a journey to Heaven. The fourth Greek word is in Mark 16:19. It is the word, “aneleémfthee,” and means “to be received up.” It means that the Ascension ended when Jesus was received up into Heaven. While the third term emphasizes the concept of journey, the fourth term emphasizes the destination of this journey, which was Heaven itself. This journey was not a permanent one, but a temporary one. Someday He will return to this earth to set up His Kingdom.
There are six characteristics of the Ascension: First, the Ascension was not just the humanity of Jesus, nor was it only the deity of Jesus that ascended. The entire God-Man ascended. Second, it was visible because the disciples could see Jesus going up into the atmospheric heaven until a cloud hid Him from their view. Third, it was bodily. The resurrection body that He received upon His resurrection is the body that ascended. Fourth, it was gradual. He was not instantaneously caught up with the speed of light, in a wink of an eye, and did not suddenly disappear. It was gradual and in four stages, as illustrated by the four Greek terms. Fifth, the Ascension was received by clouds. Jesus went up in the clouds of Heaven, the very clouds that hid the rest of the Ascension from the view of the apostles. Sixth, the Ascension meant a local transfer from one place to another place - from earth to Heaven. The Ascension concluded with the arrival of Messiah into Heaven. That was the termination and the goal of the Ascension: the arrival of Jesus bodily into Heaven. This is so important that fifteen specific passages speak of His arrival into Heaven. (Acts 3:20-21; 9:3-6; 22:6-10; 26:13-18; Philippians 3:20; I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16; I Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:14; 6:20; 7:26, 9:24; I John 2:1; Revelation 1:17; 5:5-12)
There are twelve significances of the Ascension: The first significance of the Ascension proved the truth of what Jesus said. He prophesied that He would go to the Father, and the Ascension fulfilled the claim that He made in John 14:28. The second significance of the Ascension means that Jesus is preparing a place for us. In John 14:2, He said that He is going to Heaven, to the Father, to prepare a place for us. The third significance of the Ascension is that it marks the culmination of His Exaltation. (Ephesians 1:19-23) Exaltation means that God the Father has exalted His Son above every creature and given Him a name that is above every name. Upon His arrival into Heaven, it completed the Exaltation. (Philippians 2:9-11) The fourth significance of the Ascension is that it marks His headship over the Church. It means that He is head of the Church by virtue of His Ascension into Heaven. (Colossians 1:18) The fifth significance of the Ascension is that it means that the humanity of Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father. (Acts 2:32-35) The sixth significance of the Ascension is that it began the high priestly ministry of Christ. Upon His Ascension, He took on His function as a priest, and began making intercession for us. By means of His Ascension, He can function in His priestly office in Heaven. Because there is a Man seated at the right hand of God the Father Who is performing a high priestly ministry, the writer of the Book of Hebrews encourages believers to make use of this High Priest. As our High Priest, He represents us. Since He is a Man Who was tempted in all points like we are but without sin, it means that He is a sympathetic high priest.
The seventh significance of the Ascension is that it marks the coming of the Holy Spirit. The new type of ministry, which the Holy Spirit began in Acts 2, could not have occurred prior to the ascension of Jesus. Only after His ascension could the Holy Spirit come, indwell believers forever, and begin His ministry to believers. This is brought out prophetically in John 7:39 and 16:7, and in fulfillment in Acts 2:33. The eighth significance of the Ascension is that it makes Jesus Christ the forerunner into Heaven. (Hebrews 6:20) By means of His ascension into Heaven, He became a forerunner into Heaven. A forerunner means “the first of more to come later.” The believers are the more to come later. The ninth significance of the Ascension is that it marks the believers’ new position as being seated in the “heavenlies.” (Ephesians 1:20-21) Because believers are in Christ, they are in a new position. Because the Messiah is seated in the “heavenlies” at the right hand of God the Father, and because believers are in Christ, God views believers as being seated in the “heavenlies,” not yet physically, but positionally. The tenth significance of the Ascension is that by means of the Ascension, the gifts of the Holy Spirit could be given. (Ephesians 4:7-11) This passage points out that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were available only after Christ ascended into Heaven. So the Son ascended into Heaven and then gave the spiritual gifts to believers.
The eleventh significance of the Ascension is that it provides the manner, not the place, of His return. (Acts 1:9-11) He ascended in the clouds of Heaven, and He will come in like manner someday, in the clouds of Heaven. The twelfth significance of the Ascension is that it means that the Old Testament saints are now also in Heaven. Before His ascension, the Old Testament saints’ souls were still kept in the center of the earth in Hades. When Jesus ascended, He took the souls of the Old Testament saints with Him, and the Ascension means that the souls of the Old Testament saints are now in Heaven. (Ephesians 4:8) Jesus Christ is the unique Person of the universe. He is the only Person in history to be both fully God and fully man. The term for this unique union is derived from the Greek word hupostatis meaning essence. In the case of Christ it is both divine and human essence in one Person forever. He is the God-Man. We call this the Hypostatic Union. (Hebrews 1:3)
He is superior to man because He is God. He is superior to sinful humanity because He is sinless. He is the only way to God, qualified to be a substitute for all of us. Even though His two natures are united in one Person, they retain their separate identities. The attributes of one do not belong to the other. Deity remains deity and humanity remains humanity. Because of this unique union, Christ is the perfect mediator between God and man. He is the only One in history qualified to go to the Cross and pay the penalty for sin. Christ was also our prototype, in that He lived an impeccable (sinless) life under the power of God the Holy Spirit. (I Timothy 2:5)
Jesus, as a man, is seated at the right hand of the Father at this very moment. Deity is omnipresent and does not sit; only His humanity sits. And it is His humanity that will return to earth at the Second Coming. Theologically we say that Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity in one Person forever. He is undiminished deity in that He is as much God as the Father and the Holy Spirit in essence, attributes and character. He is true humanity in that our Lord possesses a body, a soul and a spirit. (Acts 5:31; Hebrews 1:3, 4:15,10:5; I Peter 2:24; Matthew 26:38; Mark 2:8; Luke 23:46; I John 3:3)