Made a Little Lower Than the Angels
At the center of the Christian faith is the Incarnation—the event whereby the Son of God took upon himself the body prepared for him by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin’s womb, adding our humanity to his divinity and thus making that one unique person who had never been but who shall always be the Son of God and Son of Man. It is this “humbling” on God’s part that is highlighted in chapter two and especially by reference to Psalm 8:4-6. Bear in mind, the Preacher returns to the Old Testament throughout the sermon showing how everything there pointed to the Incarnation, passion, and exaltation of Christ. And we should not think the Preacher unique in doing this nor Hebrews a singular instance of this; indeed, the Apostles understood and preached the same following the example of our Lord (Luke 24:27).
The interesting part of this passage is how the Preacher uses Psalm 8. It is obvious that the psalm itself is speaking of the creation of man—who though seems so small was “made a little lower than the heavenly beings [angels] and crowned…with glory and honor.” To man, God gave dominion over all things, as is plainly stated in Genesis 1:26-31. But this is not the way the Preacher understands the psalm. Instead of referring to man, the Preacher applies the words of the psalm to Jesus, who for a time was made “a little lower than the angels,” an obvious reference to his Incarnation.
Moreover, it is the Son who is crowned with glory and honor, all things being subjected unto him. And why is the Son so crowned and all things subjected unto him: “Because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” This was the purpose of his Incarnation—that he might join himself to us that he may live our life without sin and then take our place, tasting death for every man. That is, he came to live and die for us. But his “tasting” seems a temporary thing (one does not “taste” something forever but soon swallows), indicating that his death was a temporary thing—which indeed it was. His subsequent resurrection and exaltation to the Right Hand of the Father is his victory. And as he tasted death for us, we shall taste the resurrection with him, only our “tasting” shall not be temporary but eternal.
Because he willingly endured humiliation, he is exalted; because he was crowned with thorns, he is now crowned with glory and honor that shall ever only belong to him. And because the Son of God became the Son of Man, now sons and daughters of men may become sons and daughters of God.