This article first appeared in theStandard Bearer and was written by Rev. Michael DeVries.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Hebrews 2:9
Like the multitudes of Jesus’ day, many today want an earthly Jesus who will satisfy their carnal desires by creating an earthly kingdom of peace and prosperity. They minimize and ignore His ascension and its significance. But by grace we rejoice in the ascension and exaltation of Christ. We see how necessary it was for the salvation of the church. We understand that had Christ remained on this earth, His coming in our flesh would contain no advantage for us at all.
Even more, by faith we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor at God’s right hand! No, we could not be there with the disciples to see this side of the ascension. But by faith we see Christ exalted on the glorious, heavenly side! We behold His coronation and see Him set at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, (Eph. 1:20, 21). The very sight of Him in His glory ought to fill our hearts with joy and peace. And see Him we do according to this Word of God!
A Glorious Exaltation
Yes, Jesus was made a little lower than the angels. The reference here is to Psalm 8:5. In taking upon Himself our flesh, Christ was made a little lower than the angels. What humiliation for our Lord and Savior! The angels were created spiritual beings, not bound to an earthly body. The angels were made to dwell in heaven and have a far more intimate fellowship with God than the earthly creature. Man, even Adam in the beginning, was made a little lower than the angels.
But Christ did not come as an angel. He came as a man, like unto us in all things, sin excepted. The human nature and flesh He assumed was not that of Adam and Eve before they fell. Rather, it was the flesh that is subject to affliction, weakness, misery, pain, and death. Thank God that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels! For all our hope of getting above our present misery and shame is that He came into it, as one of us, to be lifted up at His ascension to glory and honor. Only because He came as one of us could He suffer death for us. He was made to be even as we are, that He might lift us up to new life and ultimately into heavenly glory!
And thus, by faith, we see Him at God’s right hand crowned with glory and honor. Christ has dominion over land and sea. Now He has a name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that He is Lord to the glory of God. All this He received when He ascended up into heaven. He ascended into heaven that He might receive the kingdom and all its blessings to bestow upon His church. Christ is crowned with glory and honor; power and dominion are given Him; but all of this He receives for His church.
A Gracious Purpose
How great a salvation Christ has accomplished for us! Being made a little lower than the angels that He might save us who have fallen into the depths of sin and death! But notice how the apostle puts it here: “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” We must ponder this amazing truth: He tasted death! That does not mean that He took just a little sip or nibble, just to know what it was like. But our Lord Jesus Christ went into death fully and tasted all that death holds as punishment for our sins. Father’s cup, over which He had agonized in Gethsemane, filled with the bitterness of God’s wrath against sin, He drank—yea, every drop.
He tasted every drop of anguish that was in that cup. He did not gulp it down in one big swallow to get it over with, to taste as little of it as possible. In fact, Christ began to drink of that cup the moment He came into our flesh. Every step of His earthly way He found the sting of death and the wrath of God against our sins. His tasting of death came to a climax beginning in Gethsemane, and it continued until He cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” So that He could also cry, “It is finished.” Yes, He drank and drank and drank until all the punishment of our sins was removed from that cup. He tasted every drop! For whatever He would have left behind we would have to drink. But no, He tasted death, all of it, the full cup of the wrath of God against our sins. Indeed, He tasted death as no man ever tasted it. It was no mere sip of death. It was a tasting of all that death contains.
This He did for “every man” according to the text. No, this does not mean for every man, head for head, soul for soul. Scripture never speaks that way about salvation. Always this language is limited and specified by the rest of the Word of God, if not by an element in the verse itself that shows for whom it is meant. Christ tasted death for every one of God’s elect. He laid down His life for His sheep. In fact, the verse qualifies this when it states that He did so “by the grace of God.” God’s grace is always particular—only upon those whom God chose in Christ. We did not deserve this gift of the Son of God coming in our flesh and tasting death for us. We deserve to taste that death ourselves. But to represent His people who were made a little lower than the angels, and to suffer their punishment, Christ came in our flesh, in the grace of God, to taste our death and remove it forever!
And because He did this, Christ is crowned with glory and honor, as we read, “…for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour.” In this deep way of His humiliation Jesus is highly exalted. This is His reward— because He tasted death, He was crowned with glory and honor. And so, we see that the gracious purpose of God in crowning Christ with glory and honor is to glorify the people for whom Christ tasted death. He certainly did not need to taste death for Himself. There is no reason why Christ should suffer such humiliation, if you forget that He came to glorify His people. As the eternal Son of God, He certainly possessed the highest glory and honor that there is. Why be made a little lower than the angels? Why taste death? Because in the grace of God Christ came to bring glory and honor to us!
Christ did not forsake and forget His people when He ascended up into heaven. He did not leave us for selfish reasons. In amazing love He went up on high, in order that we, who also are lower than the angels and worthy of tasting all that death contains, may instead have glory and honor far above the angels. Christ was crowned with glory that we might be crowned with glory.
A Marvelous Comfort
What comfort the exaltation of Christ affords us! We may face the future with courage and confidence. With the natural eye what we see is frightening and discouraging. For, as we note from the preceding verse, “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” We see man far, far lower than the angels—yea, in the depths of depravity. We see abounding iniquity and immorality. We see a generation of the ungodly having apparent control in this world, committing horrible atrocities. We see the faithful church hated and persecuted as never before. We see the powers of darkness increasing in their bold and wicked attempt to destroy the church of God. We see our place in this world becoming smaller and smaller. From the perspective of Psalm 2, we see the heathen rage. We see the kings and rulers conspire together against the Lord and against His Anointed.
But listen, listen with the ear of faith! We hear the sound of laughter, mighty laughter, holy laughter. He who laughs is the sovereign God. He sits in the heavens. He laughs, but He also speaks. It is a word of wrath and vexation unto the wicked. But it is a beautiful Word, a Word of comfort for the people of God. “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” He is the ascended, exalted Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, things may appear chaotic, also in our land. The principles of God’s Word, His precepts, are increasingly undermined and trampled underfoot. Most rulers and judges manifest little wisdom or willingness to be instructed. But let us not despair! For we see Jesus, crowned with glory and honor!
With the eye of faith we see Him in perfect control over all these enemies of the church. We see Him with the book of the seven seals of God’s counsel. He faithfully and powerfully accomplishes all things that must shortly come to pass, in order that He may return to glorify His church. By faith we see that we are secure and that our salvation is absolutely sure. Seeing Jesus crowned with glory and honor means that the victory is already ours! We are now more than conquerors!
As long as we see Him there, all is well. How blessed it is to look into heaven by faith and see Jesus there in His glory and honor, working all things for our good! Make no mistake, all things work together for good exactly because Christ was crowned with glory and honor for all those for whom He tasted death.
Do you see Jesus there? If you do, it is because from His throne in glory He has given you the eye of faith. Christ has, in His glory and honor, the power to humble the rebellious heart and to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. The honor, glory, power, and blessing that He receives, He receives for us, His people. The glorious Christ enthrones Himself also in the hearts of His elect. Blessed is that people that have received eyes to see! Let us ever sing with the psalmist (Ps. 47): With shouts ascends our King,
With trumpet’s stirring call;
Praise God, praise God,
His praises sing,
For God is Lord of all.
Rev. Michael J. De Vries (Wife: Dawn)
Ordained: October 1978
Pastorates: Southwest, Grandville, MI - 1978; First, Edgerton, MN - 1985; First, Edmonton, AB - 1995; Wingham, ON - 2004; Kalamazoo, MI - August 2010Website: www.kalamazooprc.org/
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