One of the great concerns in our Christian state is when Scripture speaks in a way that describes a world we don’t quite live in yet. The author to the Hebrews today begins talking partly about a current circumstance, but he also talks about what he calls a world to come. And for us many times we get very distracted by that tension that exits between the already and the not yet, between what God says is true and also the world that we live in. Scripture calls the people of God saints, but to look at the people of God, there are times when the term saint seems to be far from what we are. But we are called saints, but we also recognize that we go on sinning in the world. We look at the world that surrounds us, and scripture tells us that the world is in God’s hands, that the world is in Christ’s hands. But yet…
We know and we see day upon day. We see tragedies that overwhelm us. We see disasters in our world, and we wonder, “How can God be in control of this world?” How can all things be subject to God? Well, in this section the author to the Hebrews begins with a very important reality check. A quote from Psalm 8, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals that you care for them; you have made them for a little while lower than the angels, you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet.” (2:6-8) The question he starts with is why would God care about human beings at all? Why would God be concerned at all? If we believe in a God who is powerful and strong, a God who is holy and righteous, who knows all things and created the world out of noting, then why would that God be concerned with small, created, miserable sinful wretched humanity?
And this became a very important concept, especially in the 18th century, as people, began to understand how large the universe was. The billions of miles, the galaxies so far away, the insignificance of humanity became greater and greater. And so the question of God’s relation to his creation, (if indeed it was his creation), became more and more potent. Especially with regard to God’s relation to this one point in the universe, God’s ultimate creative act, humanity, the enlightenment of the 18th century declared God unconcerned with creation.
But we believe something different. That is not what Scripture gives us. Because the Psalmist here looks at his own life in Psalm 8, he knows how insignificant he is, but he looks to God and God tells him and says “…you have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet.” It is to humanity that glory and honor are given. It is to humanity that all things have been subjected, all things in heaven and on earth. And the author to the Hebrews reiterates the point when he says God left nothing outside their control.
Now think about what that means to us as human beings, that God left nothing outside their control. That is our human destiny, to sit at God’s right hand and have nothing outside our control, to have all things subject to us. It is a remarkable statement to make. But as in all things, even scriptural things, reality creeps in. The next line, “We do not yet see everything in subjection to them.” (v.8) Christians are not idiots; they recognize that there is this gap between who we have been called in God, and who we are in the world in which we live. God has called to rule over all things, but we know and understand that we do not see everything in subjection to us. We cannot control the world in which we live. We cannot control the clouds and the sun. We cannot control the winds and the rain. We cannot control disease and pain. We try. The world tries to make the creation into something else. It is remarkable the lengths we go to control the world. For example, antibiotics began as a good thing, but as time goes on the bacteria become mutated, the antibiotics are less effective, and diseases we never knew existed come to affect us. And we are not in control; what once helped us is now the cause of our demise. So we try to get control on or own terms.
So, everything is not in subjection yet, not brought low yet. But the author says we do see something. We do not se the world yet, but we do see Jesus “who for a little while was made lower than the angels…” (v.9) For a little while Jesus took our human form. This is a very important concept, that Jesus took our human form. And that he become for us the one who did what we could not do. He became the one who fulfilled God’s commandments and law. He became the one who obeyed completely and fully. He became the one who lived the perfect sinless life. He became the one who makes the first step, so that we can follow after him. “We see Jesus now crowned with glory and honor, because of the suffering of death. “ (v.9) Because his obedience led him to die. Because his obedience led him to the cross, his perfect obedience did not lead him first to glory and then beyond. It led him first to humiliation, to destruction, to his own suffering, to his own death. And because his obedience took him as far as he could go, to that perfect place, he is now crowned with glory and honor. That there is man, a human being , one who shares our flesh, one who shares our temptations, one who shares the hunger and the thirst, and he is now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.
He is the example that starts us on the right path. It says very clearly that Christ is the one who leads our way, “he suffered death so that he might taste death for everyone” (v.9) that we do not have to suffer these things, because Christ went through the door first. Because Christ broke the chains of sin and evil. Because Christ broke the power of the devil and his demons. Because Christ broke the slavery that death holds over us. That he tasted death so that those who come after him do not, but they will only taste the glory and honor, they will only see all things under their control.
The tension is always there in our Christian lives between what we are called to be, and what we continue to be in the world that surrounds us. But what the world calls us is only an illusion. And what God calls us to be is a word of truth spoken in righteousness. God calls us to be saints, calls us to be rulers, calls us to honor and glory. This for us is not a possession we wait for, but a possession we hold until its final fulfillment