Have you noticed a pattern here? All of the major features and events of our Lord’s ministry were predicted and described in the Psalms: His incarnation (2 and 8), his Passion (22 and 69), his final words on the cross (31), his resurrection (16), and his claiming of his bride(45). There are just two major aspects of his ministry which haven’t been covered: the Ascension and his return. And guess what?! They’re in there too!
When the Lord Jesus returned to his Father’s side, it was not a reversal of the Incarnation. He's been united with human flesh forever. When he walked the earth, he was just as much man as he was God, and that didn’t change at the Ascension.
Why is this important? Well, there are at least two reasons why it affects you and me, and they’re both in this passage. Since it’s one of the most frequently quoted Psalms in the New Testament, I would nominate it as one of the most underappreciated.
The first verse was quoted by Jesus himself in the last week of his ministry. His enemies came to him and asked him a series of questions, designed to stump (and thus discredit) him, or maybe even provide a pretext for arresting him. Of course he knocked all of them out of the park, and left his questioners/accusers humiliated. Then finally it was his turn. He quoted vs.1 and confirmed with them that the verse referred to the Messiah. But then he asked them to think it through: How could David call the Messiah his “Lord”? You never called your descendants “Lord”; it's always the other way around. How could the Messiah be both David’s descendant and his “Lord”? Well, for us Christians, the answer’s obvious: Jesus was/is the physical descendant of David but also God in the flesh.
But what does this have to do with the Ascension? This verse is quoting the Father, who's saying this to his Son. Jesus, when he returned to the Father, sat down at his right hand, and he’s waiting for the completion of his Father’s plan to “make [his] enemies a footstool for [his] feet.” In other words, Jesus is sovereign God, and his plan is unfolding, and one day all his enemies will be made to submit to him. We don’t see it now, but we will.
The other reason why this Psalm is so important to us is found in vs. 4. The author of Hebrews spends an entire chapter expanding on the meaning of that one verse, and here’s the upshot. None of the priests in the line of Aaron could ever really take away sin, so a priest in another line was needed. Melchizedek, one of the most mysterious people in the O.T., was the prototype of this new priesthood, and our Lord Jesus was the Priest in his "line." He was greater than all the Aaronic priests for two reasons: He will live forever (and thus needs no replacement) and actually can take away our sins.
And what is he doing for us right now, this very minute? Hebrews 7:25 tells us plainly: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” He’s interceding for you and me, pleading our case before the Father.
So those are the two main aspects of the Ascension: His sovereign outworking of the Father's plan, and his intercession for believers.
Lord Jesus, I both praise and thank you. I praise you because you ARE in charge. Your enemies will be placed under your feet, one way or another. I thank you, because at this very moment, you’re pleading my case before the Father.
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