Summary: What Jesus did for us should leave us in awe.
Why the Word Became Flesh
Even though we find the words “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” in the Gospel of John, the Book of Hebrews describes the incarnation of Jesus in detail. The first chapter of Hebrews sets the table for the earthly Jesus. He describes the Son in majestic detail. He is the speech act of God in the latter times. He speaks what the prophets of old spoke and more. He is presented as the means by which God created as well as sustains the universe. This Son is the exact representation of God and the radiance of His glory. He is the One whom the Scripture of old prophesied. Because the Son is all of these things, He is greater in all respects to everything in creation. This includes the greatest of all creatures, the angels. Even though one could by analogy argue that if the Son is greater than the angels who are greater than all other creatures, then the Son is greater than Moses and the Aaronic priesthood, etc. But the writer of Hebrews does not argue this way. Instead he makes direct comparisons between the Son and all creatures at every level. He is greater than Moses. He is greater than Aaron. He has a greater prieshoodand is a better offering than their offerings. Indeed the Son is worthy of all praise, worship and majesty. And this worship is even commanded of the angels themselves.
After a short interlude at the beginning of chapter 2 in which the people are warned from drifting away from this truth at the peril of their salvation, Hebrews goes on to address the other nature of this Son. Not only is the Son fully God, but He also fully participated in our humanity with the only exception, apart from sin. The great wonder we remember at Christmastime is why God would enter His own creation? This is a wonderful mystery to which we can only affirm that He did and that He did this for us, for our salvation.
The writer of Hebrews picks up the topic of Jesus’ humanity in 2:5. He quotes the 8th Psalm to achieve this purpose. This psalm states that God has a special purpose for humanity. He created them a little less than the angels. This, places the angelic beings in a higher rank. We read from the Scripture of two falls, one of 1/3 of the angels in heaven under Lucifer and the fall of Adam and Eve. God did not institute a plan of redemption for the fallen angels. But He did for us, which is utterly amazing. Why should God care for an inferior rank of creatures, and sinful and rebellious creatures at that? Charles Wesley puts this in powerful words: “And can it be… that Thou my Savior didst die for me.” What amazing love! He regards us because He regards Christ.
Even though the 8th Psalm seems to address humanity in general, Hebrews adapts this to speak of Jesus specifically. When we look at Paul’s second Adam presentation in Romans 5, we realize that Jesus, as the second Adam, represents all of humanity in Himself. We who were once one with the old Adam and have received Christ have changed from the curse of the first Adam to the blessings offered by the second. Jesus came down and participated in the flesh of the first Adam so that we could participate in His new nature in a restored humanity. The image of death is replaced by eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. This Jesus was God’s visitation to us. He who is exalted above the heavens came down to be a creature like us. In His humanity, He became a little bit lower than the angels. The time would come that after Jesus had accomplished our salvation that He would be restored to His full and rightful glory. All things would then be re-subjected under His feet. He who already and eternally was crowned with glory and honor would be granted even greater glory and honor.
Some might at this point ask the question which is known as the “Full bucket.” How does one add water to a bucket that is full? Of course, for humans, that would only be possible if one removed the water from the bucket first. Then one could add the water back. Some see this as having happened to Jesus. The theory of kenosis, of Jesus divesting Himself of His divinity, at least in some degree, when He came to earth is offered as a possible explanation. But there are problems with this theory, and it would take too much time to argue this. But it is sufficient to affirm that that which seems impossible for us is possible with God. Speculation beyond this leads to problems. We must affirm that the Son, the Creator and sustainer of all things inherited what was already His by His death.