by Brett Bradshaw
For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Glory is the dazzling brilliance love gives in adoring relationship. It engulfed me at the sight of my bride walking through the church doors on our wedding day and overwhelmed me at the birth of our children. At these moments the veil between heaven and earth pulled back just enough for a glimpse of God’s deeper reality that engulfs the world we see. The writer of Hebrews pulls back the curtain further to let in the light of the the blazing granduer of God in Jesus who has died, is risen, and will come again to restore his people and place to glory.
The text evokes the glorious origin of creation and human beings by quoting from a delighted praise found in Psalm 8. This psalm poses the question: “What is a human being?” The answer is remarkable: “You made him a little lower than God and crowned him with glory and honor” (v. 5). Genesis 1-2 reveals that all human beings are made in the image of God and given kingly authority to administer God’s rule and priestly responsibility to mediate his blessing (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them male and female” (Gen 1:26–27, ESV). Being made in the image of God, the imago dei, is the astounding truth that in all the glory of the heavens and the earth God uniquely cares for human beings (Psalm 8:4). Personhood is the craftsmanship of God’s life evoking artistry.
The beauty of this reality poses a serious challenge in light of experience. Clearly something has gone terribly wrong such that what human beings and the world were created to be is not what they have become—“we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Hebrews 1:8). The betrayal of basic trust in God’s goodness is the cancerous condition of human beings in broken relationship with God, one another, and creation. Injustice, violence, and fear run rampant in blatant and subtle ways. If we are honest, the evil we so clearly see “out there” (culture) can be found “in here” (the heart). We look in the present to Jesus by faith who was coronated with glory and honor because of the suffering of death (Hebrews 2:9). As the rising sun meets the darkest night so the radiance of the glory of God entered the darkness of death and illuminated a new day in risen glory.
Our vocation is the way of Jesus in long-suffering love with hope of glory beyond all comparison. C. S. Lewis states, “Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point.” We live into this daily tension by doing what needs to be done with the character, knowledge, and skill we have today in the Spirit’s power with confidence in God’s glorious kingdom. Jesus, the man fully alive, entered death on the cross that we may by confidence in Him become a living glory to God now and always.