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Because Jesus Is the Central Actor in God’s New Plan (Hebrews 2:5–9)
SUPPORTING IDEA: Submitting to Jesus brings marvelous benefits.
Hebrews 2:5-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
All Things Subjected to Jesus
5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the inhabited earth to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But one has testified somewhere, saying,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor;
8 you have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in subjecting all things to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
9 But we do see him, who was made a little lower than angels, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
2:5. In this section we will meet the name of Jesus for the first time in Hebrews (v. 9). The readers of Hebrews knew that Jesus was a human being and that he had lived and then endured a disgraceful death. Why should they think that Jesus was superior to any other human being, much less to the angels? Some readers might think that Jesus, the human being, was far inferior to angels in might, position, and power. This verse now shows that Jesus was superior to angels despite his humanity.
Angels have an important role in this age. Some Old Testament verses suggested that God had assigned administrative chores over different countries to angelic powers (Dan. 10:20–21—note the terms prince of Persia and prince of Greece). Usually scholars interpeting the Old Testament passages in Daniel view these “princes” as evil angels because they oppose God’s plans. But verse 5 implies that God had given some governing authority in this present age to angels. But what about the world to come. Who was in charge of this?
The term world to come (or “age to come”) can refer either to the afterlife or to the new order of things which Jesus inaugurated. In this verse it had more reference to a new order of God’s plans which Jesus introduced. God has enthroned Jesus at his right hand. Jesus’ enthronement has begun a new world order over which he reigns. In Jesus, Christians already taste the powers of the coming age (Heb. 6:5). Jesus has already started this new age, but he has not completed it. In time he will bring his people into enjoyment of the final blessings of salvation (Heb. 9:28). Jesus is the central actor in God’s new plan. He is far superior to angels. Even now he is God’s messenger to us with a message of deliverance. If we listen to him, it can make the difference between eternal misery and eternal blessedness.
2:6–8a. These words represent a quotation of most of Psalm 8:4–6. Two observations will help us understand what the writer of Hebrews was doing. First, he attached great important to Scripture. His reference to Scripture settled the issue for him. Second, the psalmist talked about the insignificance of human beings, but the author of Hebrews pointed out the majesty of the son of man, Jesus Christ.
When the psalmist looked at God’s majestic creation, human beings appeared puny and insignificant. Despite the lowliness of human beings, God had given them authority over creation. The opening question of verse 6, What is man? celebrated the dignity of human beings despite their insignificance.
The term son of man referred to the ideal man. Jesus frequently used this title to refer to himself (John 1:51). Since Jesus was the ideal man, this psalm was fulfilled in him. We start out thinking about human beings, but we quickly shift gears and think about Jesus, who is the ideal man. The use of the term son of man in reference to Jesus showed that he had true humanity. What happened to him affected and helped all human beings.
Once we see that the term son of man in verse 6 referred ultimately to Jesus, we can spot the reference to the incarnation and the exaltation in verse 7. The phrase a little lower actually means “lower for a little while.” With this translation the opening words of verse 7 were suggesting that Jesus experienced a temporary humiliation in the incarnation. Now the Father has exalted him to his right hand and has given him glory and majesty while subjecting everything to him. What human beings lost because of sin, Jesus has regained by his obedience. We can experience God’s fullness for us in Jesus’ accomplishments.
2:8b–9. The subjection of all things to Jesus was still in the future, but it was certain to occur. The certainty that Jesus will experience future glory gives hope to us. This assurance leads to the introduction of Jesus by name in verse 9.
We find three statements about Jesus in verse 9. First, Jesus became a human being. He was made a little lower than the angels. Second, as a man he experienced suffering and death. The death of Jesus provided a marvelous display of divine grace. God permitted his Son to endure suffering, and the Son willingly offered himself. He tasted death for everyone. Third, the outcome of the suffering of Christ was that he was crowned with glory and honor.
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