After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . (Hebrews 1:3)
Imagine that moment when Jesus first sat down on heaven’s throne.
Having taken on our full flesh and blood, lived among us, died sacrificially for us, and risen in triumph, defeating sin and death, he ascended to heaven, pioneering our way, as human, into the very presence of God his Father. Then Jesus stepped forward toward the throne, all heaven captive with history’s great coronation, a ceremony so glorious that even the most extravagant of earthly coronations can barely reflect it.
“We will join in the everlasting song that does not end, and grows only richer and sweeter for all eternity.”
Most of us today don’t even have the categories for the kind of pomp and circumstance that accompanied coronations in the ancient world. We’ve never witnessed an entire kingdom harness all its collective wealth and skill to put on a once-in-a-generation tribute to the glory of its leader. The extravagance communicates the importance of the person and his position. Royal weddings, no doubt, have their splendor, but the ascending of a new King to the throne, and that solemn moment of placing on his head the crown that signaled his power, is without equal.
And yet all the majesty of history’s most grandiose coronations now have been dwarfed by the heavenly finale to which the greatest of earthly ceremonies were but the faintest of shadows.
Crown Him Lord of All
The first chapter of Hebrews gives us a glimpse into this coronation of Christ, this moment when the God-man is formally crowned Lord of all. First, the scene is set: “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
Then Hebrews quotes from Psalm 2, which was a psalm of coronation for the ancient people of God: “You are my Son,” God says to the new king of Israel, “today I have begotten you” (Hebrews 1:5). It was on the day of his ascension to the throne that the new ruler of God’s people formally became his “son” in serving as his official representative to his people. The coronation was the day, so to speak, that God begat the human king as lord over his people.
To Him All Majesty Ascribe
Next, verse 6 mentions “when [God] brings the firstborn into the world.” What world? This is not a reference to the incarnation, but to Jesus’s return to heaven, following his ascension. Hebrews 2:5 clarifies by referencing “the world to come, of which we are speaking.” In other words, “the world” in view in Hebrews 1 is not our earthly, temporal age into which Jesus came through Bethlehem. Rather, the world into which God brings his firstborn here is the heavenly realm, what is to us “the world to come,” heaven itself into which Jesus ascended following his earthly mission.
The setting is indeed the great enthronement of the King of kings. And as Jesus, the victorious God-man, enters heaven itself, and processes to its ruling seat, God announces, “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Hebrews 1:6). Him: God and man in one spectacular person.
Originally God had made man “a little lower than the heavenly beings” (Psalm 8:5). But now the angelic hosts of heaven worship him, “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). So great is this man, as a genuine member of our race, that he not only eclipses and bypasses the race of angels, but in doing so, he brings his people with him. No redeemer has arisen for fallen angels. “Surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16). In Christ, angels no longer look down on humanity but up. We now experience firsthand “things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12).
This new King of the universe is indeed fully man, and fully God, and addressed as such (quoting Psalm 45): “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8). Verse 12 (echoing Psalm 102) restates the glory — “Your years will have no end” — which is the climactic expression of (and even outstrips) saying, “Long live the king!” (1 Samuel 10:24; 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Kings 1:25, 34; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Chronicles 23:11).
Bring Forth the Royal Diadem
Finally, the grand finale sounds the great oracle of Psalm 110, which has lingered in the background since the mention of Jesus sitting down in verse 3. Again the Father speaks: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Hebrews 1:13). For generations and centuries, the people of God had waited for the day in which great David’s greater son, his Lord, would ascend to the throne and hear these sacred words from God himself. Then, at long last, captured for us in the vision of Hebrews 1, the great enigmatic dream of Psalm 110 was finally fulfilled.
Having finished the work his Father gave him to accomplish, God’s own Son (not merely David’s) has ascended to the throne — not a throne on earth but the throne of heaven. The Father himself has crowned him King of all the universe. He has called forth the royal diadem and crowned him King of every kindred, every tribe, every nation.
“This new King of the universe is indeed fully man, and fully God.”
We who call him King and Lord will not only gather one day with “yonder sacred throng” to fall at his feet, but even now, he gives us the dignity of participating in heaven’s ongoing coronation ceremony. We crown him with our praises, both in daily lives of continual praise (Hebrews 13:15) and together in the midst of the congregation, as we gather weekly with our new kindred and tribe in worship (Hebrews 2:12).
The glorious enthronement of Christ has not ended, but continues. We see it now and experience it by faith, and participate with our praises. And one day soon, with all his redeemed, we at last will join in the everlasting song that does not end, and grows only richer and sweeter for all eternity.