Why the Ascension: It's Meaning

I think Dr. Scott Hahn has brought out the essential purpose of the Ascension of Christ into heaven, in his book, The Lamb’s Supper.

In an early section of the book, which he has titled “Victim’s Rites” he recalls Heb 9:25 that in the Old Testament era, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies, but only once a year, and then did not stay long, because his “unworthiness” drove him out. But, as Hahn continues, “But Jesus entered the holiest of holies – heaven – once for all, to offer Himself as our sacrifice.”

Hahn also emphasizes that Jesus is both priest and victim, and that in the book of Revelation, John has a vision of Jesus as The Lamb of God, mentioned 22 times.

Jesus leaves this world temporarily as a victim who dies on the cross. But, that is not the end, of course, as we believe Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus enters heaven deliberately and triumphantly (triumphant over death and sin) and remains as our Intercessory Priest to the Father, eternally.

Jesus’s rise to heaven is a meaningful fulfillment of scripture, as an assurance of our faith. In Jesus, our faith is transformed into sight, and our hope is transformed into bliss (St. Augustine).

I have always had problems using the word ‘victim’ to describe what our Lord did for us. A victim doesn’t have a choice. But Jesus did. He knew what was going to happen and because of His love for us, He chose to die for our sins. He could have called down billions of angles to rescue him, but He knowingly and willfully chose to die for us. He wasn’t a victim, He was and is God.

Just my 2 cents worth…

That’s the common and vulgar meaning of the word. But the original and precise meaning is that which is offered in sacrifice. The victim and priest are the two requirements for the sacrifice. And in the case of Jesus, he is both.

Thank you for educating me as I shared the previous poster’s sentiments. :slight_smile:

I have not been able to find what you claim is the original meaning of the word victim. Yes, Jesus was our sacrifice, and I would add most sacrifices were victims. They had no choice. But this is where Jesus is different. He offered Himself up to be that sacrifice. He had a choice. What I have found is that the word victim is defined “as a result of…” something. And this is where I have problems using it referring to what Jesus did, He offered Himself up* for *our sins, not as a result of our sins.

Father Raymond Kolbe willingly took the place of Franciszek Gajowniczek, a condemed prisoner of Auschwitz, and died in his place. He went willingly in order to save the life of a younger man with a family. He was a victim of the Holocaust and died a victim of Nazi hatred, yet he went of his own free will in place of another.

Christ did not go to His crucifixion of His own free will, He went as a victim of OUR sin in obedience to the Father, … remember that in His human form, He asked the Father to “take this cup” away from Him.

We hear of “the Pascal Victim” every Easter just after the Gospel reading when the Easter sequence is read or sung. The church teaches us that Christ is the “Pascal Victim”, a reference to the Passover lamb sacrificed by the Israelites, whose blood was smeared on their door jambs allowing the “destroyer” to pass over their homes and spare their first born children. Just as the blood of Christ in us allows God to “pass over” our sin and spare us for a life with Him.

I have no problem at all accepting that Christ was the ultimate victim of MY sin.

Rembrandt recognized it and painted himself raising the crucified Christ up on the cross in his painting “The Raising of the Cross” and later Mel Gibson recognized it and filmed his own hands pounding in the nails in his film, the Passion of the Christ.

Let us not get too confused by semantics and translations. Christ was the ultimate victim!

Jesus is the one offering (priest) and the one offered (victim). This is the classic, original meaning of victim. A victim in this context is one sacrificed, not one to which a bad thing happened. Victims in ancient Israelite religion included animals, cereal and wine.

We need to read the word “victim” in its older, technical sense, not its profane sense. We don’t turn to Webster’s for religious definitions of words. To be a victim is not a matter of whether one had a choice or not. It’s by the very fact that an object or person is offered in sacrifice that makes it or him a victim. The victim is whatever it is that is offered. It’s a victim because it is an offering, not because it was hurt.

Even this week, the Church still sings Victimae paschale laudes, immolent Christiani! Christians, sing praises to the Paschal Victim. That is the liturgy of the Church talking. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

[W]e, your servants and your holy people,
offer to your glorious majesty
from the gifts that you have given us,
this pure victim,
this holy victim,
this spotless victim,

the holy Bread of eternal life
and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

– Roman Canon

The use of the word victim in your examples along with the examples of the person who voluntarily gave up their life for another in a Nazi concentration camp never came back to overcome what they were sacrificed for. I don’t know of any other sacrifice that returned and conquered what they were being sacrificed for. Once they were sacrificed, that was the end of it. So they were the victim of the sacrifice. Not with Jesus. He was sacrificed and returned to overcome what he was sacrificed for! Praise God! He conquered sin and death and was resurrected to show that He did overcome it. Sacrifice, yes. Victim, no.

Can you give reference to your comment that this is the classic and original meaning of the word victim? I can’t seem to come up with anything that supports it. Nowhere in Holy Scripture is Jesus called a victim for His sacrifice. Yes, He is our sacrifice because He offered Himself up. Then returned to show that by His sacrifice He overcame sin and death.

The use of the word victim just doesn’t set right with me due to the common meaning of the word. But if you are fine with it, so be it! But to me, my savior wasn’t a victim of sin or death, He overcame it by His sacrifice.

I am not merely “fine” with it. I insist on it. A sacrifice requires both priest and victim, and that Christ is a Victim stems from the fact that he is the one who is offered, not that he was hurt. Precisely because he offered himself is why he is the victim, as well as the priest.

Priest and victim are the two essentials of any sacrifice. If either of these two are missing, no sacrifice can be offered.


Late 15th century (denoting a creature killed as a religious sacrifice): from Latin victima.

And if you don’t like the word, here’s something to make you feel worse.

Because Jesus is an eternal High Priest, this means his Sacrifice is also eternal. For there to be an eternal Sacrifice, there is also an eternal Victim. Guess who that is.

Thank you for your response. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but am only sharing what I believe.

And thank you for your searching the various definitions of ‘victim’, “denoting a creature killed as a religious sacrifice.” I understand and agree. I would venture to say that there hasn’t been one creature killed for a sacrifice that has returned, except for Jesus! He overcame death! If Jesus is an eternal victim, He couldn’t be alive! The definition of victim doesn’t say killed and then raised again. It states that the victim is killed. Period. But we know Jesus has risen and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.

In regards to the comments about the eternal High Priest and eternal Sacrifice with an eternal Victim. I agree that Jesus does hold the position as eternal High Priest. That is who He is and that describes His position. But Jesus’ sacrifice, however, was an event, a onetime event. We can have eternal effects of that sacrifice, but the sacrifice itself is finished and not to be repeated.

Lastly, I did a little search of a few different Bible versions to see the use of the word victim. I looked at the NABRE, NRSVCE, and the DRA. These versions (and there are probably others also) do use the word victim to describe the OT sacrifices. The DRA had the most uses. But surprisingly, not one used the word victim to describe the sacrifice Jesus made for us. That’s interesting. While God used the word victim to describe the many sacrifices in the OT, God did not use the word victim to describe what Jesus did for us. If God doesn’t call Jesus a victim, either do I!

Several problems with this.

First of all, while Jesus’ sacrifice was a one time event IN TIME, the Person offering that Sacrifice is an Eternal Person. This therefore gives the Sacrifice an eternal value. And it should be. For there to be an eternal Priest, there must be an eternal Sacrifice.

Further, limiting your search to the Bible and finding nothing does not make me, or the Church incorrect. We do not adhere to Sola Scriptura, and the Church herself call Christ:

This holy Victim
This pure Victim
This spotless Victim
the holy Bread of eternal life
and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

in the very words she uses to worship him at Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer, and in reference to the consecrated Elements on the altar. This is because the Latin victima pertains solely to a sacrificial offering, not someone shot on the street.

Do you therefore have an issue with the Church? Because the Church is using the word Victim with the exact same meaning I have used, and in the highest prayer she uses to worship God. Is the Church lying or blaspheming when she does this?

You seem to be stuck in a definition of Victim that solely pertains to the modern use, that somehow, a Victim is dead and buried rather than someone or something offered. Yes, Jesus died, and that Death constituted his offering. This offering is what makes him the Victim. That he rose and defeated death does not take away his Victimhood. For a sacrifice to exist, one needs a priest and victim. An eternal Priest needs an eternal Sacrifice. An eternal Sacrifice needs an eternal Victim, and this Victim is victorious and alive. But he is still the Lamb standing as if slain because this Sacrifice is eternally present to the Father. This is what makes the Mass even possible. Otherwise, how can the Sacrifice be made present on our altars every single day?

Yes, Jesus died. That did not make him a Victim. His death was a sacrificial offering. THAT is what made him a Victima (and a Hostia). That he rose again is immaterial, because it is not death that makes a Victima, but the fact that there was a sacrificial offering. Because he was offered, Jesus is and always will be a Victima.

You will not find satisfaction searching the Bible alone for the definition of the word. But you will find it in its proper meaning in other important documents of our faith, notably, the Missal and the writings of the saints, AND in a study of the pagan Roman religion, from where we obtain the terms Victima and Hostia.

Thank you again for illuminating the meaning of victim. I, too, feel that Jesus does not fall under the modern definition of victim, as he so freely gave himself up as an offering for forgiveness of sin. He was not a victim of the Romans, nor of the Jews. He is a victim because he is the sacrifice.

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