Crowned With Glory And Honor
Key Verse 2:9
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
Today’s passage deals mainly with a Psalm that the author chose to use to make a point. Let me read you a portion of the Psalm 8 that this passage deals with. “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” (Psalm 8:4-6) And now let me explain to you why the author brings this Psalm into the picture here in his letter to some of the Hebrew Christians who were questioning their faith in Christ and seriously considering returning to their Jewish roots. Of course, it was a big mistake to do that. And the author explains to them time and again of Who Christ Jesus is— that he is the Son of God, the Lord of glory. And in introducing this Psalm, he tells them two things: First, why Christ Jesus had to become a Man, second, he reveals who we who follow Christ Jesus truly are. This is one of the most powerful passages that we can study in the Bible because it sheds light and truth on a monumental question of life “What is man”? Of course, in this study, and any study we cannot answer this question or any life question unless we focus first on the Lord of Glory— Christ Jesus himself. In Him alone can we answer the question “What is man”?
Read verse 5. ‘It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.” The author here is telling us something very simple. He is saying that God has not given dominion of the world to come to angels. Angels are magnificent creations of God whom the Jews revered and highly honored. But the author has already told us that Jesus is far superior to the angels. And the author has told us that Christ Jesus who is the Son, is also the Heir of all things in heaven and on earth. Now in verse 5 he tells us something new. He tells us that it’s not to angels that God has given dominion of the “world to come”. We have two questions here. Then to whom has given dominion if he has not given it to angels? And what did he mean by “the world to come”?
So let me start like this: Jesus is the Heir of all things as we have seen in chapter 1, and we are his co-heirs and this means that we are the heirs of salvation. In other words, we have an inheritance. What is it? That’s hard to tell. The Scripture doesn’t fully disclose the scope of our inheritance. But surely we know that we will be fully restored to rulership over creation the way things were supposed to be before Adam’s fall and more— in “the world to come”. Now “the world to come” is the world where Christ— upon his return— will rule this renovated earth in peace and righteousness. The Jews were hoping for God’s kingdom to come when the Christ came. But when Christ did come, they stumbled over the cross. What this means is that they missed the truth of Scripture where the Christ— through his suffering death— needed first to solve the sin problem, to conquer death and the grave, to deliver the sinners (including the Gentiles), build up his church through sending the Holy Spirit, and then return to set up His kingdom. The world to come, therefore, is the Messiah’s Kingdom and Rule of righteousness where his people will once again have dominion over all things.
We the children of God are the heirs of “the world to come”. It is not to angels that God has made this promise but to us the heirs of salvation. (1:14) In fact, as the author tells us in last verse of chapter 1, angels are even to minister to the heirs of salvation in the world to come. Perhaps what the author is trying to tell the readers here is to continue persevering in their faith in Christ, because a time is coming when dominion over the world to come in that great Messianic age to come will be glorious— more glorious than anything even the angels have ever known or enjoyed.
Anyway God Almighty has promised his children the world to come— a world by far better than the Paradise Adam and Eve lived in— a Kingdom where the Messiah rules in righteousness and peace. Now here’s where all the difficulty for these Jewish Christians came in. How could Jesus Christ the Messiah— having been so glorious— have suffered the humiliation of suffering and death! It just didn’t make sense to some of them. Why didn’t He just come down as the Christ with all power and glory and establish his Kingdom right there and then and destroy his enemies and rescue his people? Fair question! But the author explains in these verses how necessary it was for the Messiah to experience fully our humanity; that he needed to taste death on our behalf for many reasons which he explains to us. Ultimately he implies that real power is not in crushing enemies by physical force, but real power is by destroying the power of sin and death in the lives of human beings having been kept slaves to sin and death since Adam’s fall. Real power is to free us from the power of sin and death and recovering for us our true humanity and dominion over creation as God had originally intended. And that’s why Jesus Christ did not come to crush our political or social injustices. He came to solve the sin problem and death problem once for all. To do that, he had to take upon himself our humanity— become a man— and subject himself to the pain of death.
Now, then we can begin to understand why the author introduces portions of Psalm 8 into the picture. Read verses 6 and 7. “But there is a place where someone has testified: ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor.” Of course the point of psalm 8 when you read it is to glorify God! But the author here, through the Holy Spirit has interpreted it in a wonderful way to reveal God’s ultimate purpose for his creation of man. The man, or the son of man here, he is referring to is not Adam— otherwise it would make Adam inferior to the angels from the start which Adam was not! In verse 7, the words “you made him a little lower than the angels” is not in reference to his creation, but in reference to his position having once been high now been made low for a little while. So it seems that for a little while human beings were made a little lower than the angels.
So, the question is what then does “a little while” imply or mean? In other words, how did man come from a higher position to a lower position— for a little while— to make him lower than the angels? And the answer to this question is simple. As the Lord Jesus once told us, Angels don’t die. (Luke 20:36) After the fall, man began to die. In that sense then, for a little while man was made to be a little lower than the angels— until when? Until the Lord of glory saw fit to reverse our situation and recover our humanity! In order to so, we needed a savior. And the Savior had to be fully human. And he needed to participate fully in our humanity— fully completely— in every aspect of it— that is in his birth, in his suffering, in his temptation, and even in his death. Yet unlike us, he had to be without sin! And so he was, without sin.
Look at verse 7 again. “You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor.” The first part talks of this verse talks about the humiliation of man. The second part talks about man’s exultation. And here we’re talking about a time when the Lord will reign on this earth and we will reign with him in all the glory of the human being that you and I should and would be then— but are not now because of sin. But we will be on that day— all because Jesus has restored us. And I’m saying restored us in the past tense! Not in the future tense but in the past tense. Let me explain. It’s very interesting to point out here how this Scriptures is spoken to us— not in the future tense but in the past tense— and how important of a truth this is for us to consider as we regard Scripture. Here’s what I’m talking about. Take for example the prophesy regarding the Messiah in Isaiah 53. Most of its predictions are expressed in the past tense. In a sense at the time the prophesy was given, the Messiah had not yet come. But the message was given to God’s people in the past tense as if it had all happened already. Similarly we see the Bible talking about the children of God as being glorified in the past tense even though in a sense our glorification hadn’t occurred yet. Why? And what does this tell us? It tells us that prophesy is spoken from God’s perspective and its fulfillment is so absolute and certain that it is considered already done. And that is at the heart of faith. In this light we too must understand the last part of verses 7 and 8a which says: “And put everything under his feet.”
There is no doubt in our minds therefore— it is our absolute faith then— that by what the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus and the sanctifying work of the spirit, the Christians, the children of God, the heirs of salvation, are to be crowned with glory and honor. Actually from God’s perspective and eternal purpose, we have already been crowned. Paul believed it and lived by faith and gave his life to the Lord because he knew that a crown of righteousness waited for him. This is something that we aught to consider very carefully. Not many Christians today think of the crown which God promises. Mostly Christians don’t know what to expect when they die. They just think they go to heaven or maybe the kingdom or something. They have no idea what God has in store for them. That’s not good. That makes you a casual Christian, an uninterested Christian, a Christian who isn’t interested in what the Lord has in store for you. You need to know what you’re getting. You need to know what the Bible says about the crown. If you get more excited about what you’re getting on your birthday than God’s crown, what does it say about you, your faith and your relationship with God!
The whole story of the human race had been the story of failure to obey God. We were once glorious in his kingdom in the Garden of Eden. We were like the angels enjoying all the privileges of being God’s great creation. We were once immortal. Then we disobeyed God and lost everything. We lost and forgot what it really means to be human— a real genuine human being made in God’s holy and beautiful image. We now die— something that was never meant to be. (of course, there are other things that made us sub-human but we will not get into them here) Then Jesus came, and restored everything we lost by becoming a human like us. He reminded us what it is like to be truly Human. By his life and actions, by his love and grace and words, and sacrifices and his glorious majestic dignity as he stood by truth and honor, he reminded us what showed us what a true Human being is like— should be like. And Jesus Christ lost everything so that we may gain everything back— so that we might remember who we really are! He died that we might one again be crowned with glory and honor. The crown is a big part of our inheritance. How can the Christian not be excited about it! Why must you and I be concerned with the crown that God has in store for us? Let me tell you why.
Paul says: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day— and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8) Listen to what James says: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) It is when we have that day on our hearts that we can actually we live by faith for that day rather than live carelessly for today. Many Christians who don’t have that day in mind nor have any idea nor care about what they’re getting, have also no care how they live their lives. They are easily tempted and tried, and their faith is easily weakened by the things of the world that seem much more appealing when no crown is in view. I’d rather have a crown in view in my heart and know what I’m receiving in the Lord than go through life like a gambler whose not sure what kind of a winning ticket he has.
Look at verse 8. “’And put everything under his feet.’ In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” This is a must wonderful verse. It carries through from verse 5 where he says that it’s not to angels that God has subjected the world to come. But he has put everything under the feet of those who have been redeemed by the Lord of glory. In other words God will subjugate the world to come to the people of the Lord (Daniel 7:18,27). In a sense we can say that this verse right here is a sequel to genesis 1.26 where God gave man absolute dominion over all things. And this absolute dominion is far more in scope than anything Adam could have imagined because of what the Lord Jesus, the second Adam has accomplished. Look how the author describes this absolute dominion in verse 8b. “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him.” Even the angels will be made subject to the dominion of the heirs of salvation, to those redeemed by the Lord Jesus. (Rev 21.7) This is our reality. This is our hope. In this hope we live by faith in the Son of God who recovered our true humanity by taking on himself our humanity and redeemed it to God.
But here is the trouble— the author says— and he knows and sees the trouble very clearly. He’s not unaware of it. Actually the trouble with all that he’s said, and what we’ve said in interpreting what he’s said is clear. Look at verse 8c. “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” Indeed we don’t see anything subject to man at the moment. That’s the trouble. In fact we see the opposite, we see man subjugated, defeated, controlled, enslaved by all things. On one hand, the natural man (un-regenerated man) is a slave to this world, for it has him under its spell. How about the regenerated man— that is the Christian? We also see his daily struggle to stand tall in Christ, yet nothing in this world obeys him, sometimes not even his own dog does, let alone the world!
But look at verses 7-8. There is yet One Man (with a capital M) who has been made lower than the angels for a little while, who has already been crowned with glory and honor and with most certainty, all things have already been put under his feet. He is the God-Man, the Heir, the Son of God, Christ Jesus! While the dominion of man will be the world to come, Christ’s own dominion is surely boundless, for he is Eternal, and the Ruler of the heavens and the earth.
Look at verse 8c again. Indeed “At the present we do not see everything subject to him.” But read with me verse 9. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” At the moment we do not see anything of what God had promised us. But let me tell you, it’s a sure promise. But the author says, “We see Jesus… now crowned with glory and honor.” But we see Jesus! What did he mean by that? How do we see Jesus? It is not by our imagination that we see Jesus, nor do we see him by some dream or vision. We don’t see him by closing our eyes and visualizing a bearded rabbi. Here’s how we see him. We see him with the eyes of faith which God has given us. We see him by faith! Jesus said: “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) In this case faith is the eye of your spirit which sees and rejoices at what the word of God is telling you. This is the beauty of faith. In the New Testament we read countless times about the glorified Christ. That’s what the author is telling us. He’s telling us See him crowned with glory and honor this same Jesus who was once crowned with thorns!
This is this the faith that sets one Christian from another. It sets one who has seen the Lord with the eyes of his spirit and believed in his heart what the word of God is telling him with joy, from one who is still blinded by too many doubts and too many attachments to this world, who finds no joy in the word of God but finds only fear and uncertainty. Every Christian with eyes of faith will confess with Job these words: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5) What have Abraham and Job seen? They have seen the Son of God leaving heaven and coming to earth to seek and to save what was lost. They have seen him giving his life on the cross as a random sacrifice for the sins of the world. They have seen him rise from the dead victorious over the power of death and the grave. They have seen him ascended to the highest heavens and crowned in glory and honor. And they have seen that because he lives they too live. They have also seen their forgiveness, righteousness, and their crown of glory and honor. This is what they saw when they saw Jesus. We too must see Jesus with eyes of faith.
[Let me take a moment here to tell you that the author purposely calls him Jesus because Jesus is the name of his humiliation. It is his human name. He is ever Master and Lord as himself asserted (John 13.13) he is ever the Christ (acts 2.36). It is a name above every other name and that name is Lord. (Philippians 2.9,10) What I’m trying to say is that the Lord is referred to in the Epistles as either Christ or Christ Jesus or Lord Jesus Christ. Never is he addressed by his human name in the epistles. Once in the gospels one of his own disciples called him by his human name but it was because their faith had failed (Luke 24.19) I’m saying this because the author by calling him Jesus he wanted to emphasize his humiliation. It was this Jesus who passed through great shame and dishonor who had now been crowned with glory and honor. No wonder Peter says: “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” (1 Peter 3:15)]
Now Christ Jesus crowned and honored in glory had entered heaven itself, the first fruits of God’s glorious harvest of a new humanity, a new order of man, a perfected man, with the Lord Jesus as the Head. So now when God looks at his Incarnated Son he sees for the first time a Perfect man, Christ Jesus, and he sees us in him. And as we by faith see Jesus crowned in glory and honor, we too can see ourselves in him even now as the same crowned in him. It’s our faith. Let’s hold on to it.
Read verse 9 again. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Jesus was made lower than the angels for a little while because he suffered death. Let’s think about that a little. This implies Jesus’ mortality. In that way he became for a little while lower than the angels. Christ became mortal for a little while by virtue of his incarnation as a man. But that doesn’t mean in any way that he had the seed of sin or death in him at all. It simply means that by becoming a man Christ took upon him a nature that was capable of dying. Now why is that do important for us to know? Because the author says that he suffered death, and tasted it on our behalf, for our sake. We will be talking a lot about that next time. But for now, it’s enough to mention that Christ suffered death. What he accomplished through submitting himself to the torture of death was far more than what angels could ever do. And to do it he had to be made lower than them. So if ever power was made perfect in weakness, it was in this!
There is nothing to be ashamed of in the humiliation the Lord Jesus Christ went through in his suffering death. The Christian should never be ashamed of the cross of our Lord Jesus. It is the highest most precious sacrifice ever made in all of history by anyone. God bestowed on him a crown of glory and honor beyond our ability to perceive. Our Lord Jesus is worthy of all the honor and glory. The question we have to ask ourselves in the light of this passage is this: have we properly crowned him with glory and honor in our own hearts? Have we crowned him with the honor he deserves in our lives— him whom the world has outright rejected and cast out? Are we fully devoted to him as Lord and Master of our lives? Is his glory and honor the priority we seek in our daily chores, or is it just lip service? Is Lord Christ receiving from you the devotion and worship he deserves? He needs to occupy the throne of our hearts as much as he is now seated at the right hand of the majesty in heaven. Let’s crown him today with glory and honor. Amen