The author of the letter is setting out to urge his or her recipients to keep going in the faith because Jesus is the better and ultimate revelation of God to us. In this passage, they explore how Jesus fulfils God’s purpose for humanity.
The author quotes Psalm 8, as it marvels about God’s care for humans. Whilst for a time humanity is made lower than the angels, there is a destiny for our species to rule the cosmos with everything in subjection under our feet. In the fall, humanity spectacularly failed to live up to this commission, yet the author here shows how Christ does this on our behalf.
First, we see that, like us, Christ was made lower than the angels for a time. This does not mean that he stopped being divine, but it is a reference to the Incarnation where he took on our flesh and experienced an existence like ours in this fallen world. In particular, it is highlighted to us that Christ came to share in suffering and death, which is a huge encouragement for the original readers as they were called to suffer for their faith, and for us today as we suffer.
Doing this was fitting in order for Christ to truly represent us. In order to be the better human under whose feet all things are subject, he needed to be true human and of the same flesh as the rest of us. In order to truly fulfil a priestly function and propitiate our sins, he needed to be true human who was like us in every respect. In order to empathise with and help us when we have struggles and temptations, he needed to be true human who had experienced struggles and temptations himself.
By truly living a human life and subjecting himself to death, Christ won a great victory. He was able to bring help to us in temptation. He was able to be the propitiation for our sins. He destroyed the devil and delivered all who were held subject to him. He brought many sons to glory and was crowned with glory and honour, assuming the role that the Psalm had set out for humanity, as the one to who all things are now subject under his feet.
Some Key Points:
- Fallen humanity was not able to fulfil the purpose of being crowned with glory and honour and having everything in subjection under its feet.
- Christ became truly human, sharing in every aspect of our existence (apart from sin), including experiencing suffering, death and temptation.
- As such, Christ is able to truly represent us and propitiate our sins.
- Through his death, Christ destroyed the devil, brought about our salvation and was crowned with glory and honour, a victory that he shares with all who are in him.
- Empathy for Struggle – Many people in our congregation will be currently experiencing suffering or temptation, or may be worried about death. Realising that Christ has experienced all of this himself and is able to empathise in our struggle is of great comfort.
- An Invitation to Respond to Christ – This passage clearly presents the truth of what Christ has accomplished through his incarnation and death. It would be appropriate to offer an opportunity for people to respond by putting their trust in him for salvation.
- A Call to Worship – Just as the first chapter of this letter prompted us to worship by presenting a cosmic view of Christ in creating and upholding the universe, so this chapter too leads us to worship and praise him for what he has done through his incarnation and death. He has been crowned with glory and honour and we should bow before that crown and praise him.