Did you ever look at a starry sky on a clear night and feel very small indeed? Jesse’s son David did, 3,000 years ago, as he watched his father’s sheep out on the hills around Bethlehem. Later he wrote about it in Psalm 8. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps. 8:4).
Measured by the heavens, we humans are tiny almost to the point of invisible. Yet we have a most significant position in the divine order. God made us to exercise caring dominion over the rest of the earthly creation. The psalmist reflects: “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:5-6).
A millennium after David, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews reflected on David’s reflections, and raised a disturbing point. The Psalm says God put “all things” under man’s feet, this writer notes. But that is not what we see now — whether we look in the mirror or watch the evening news (Heb. 2:6-8). Creation is out of control. Humankind seems far from “crowned” with the “glory and honor” of which David spoke. “But” — the New Testament writer continues — “we see Jesus,” who in his incarnation was made for a little while lower than angels, and he is already “crowned with glory and honor” at God’s right hand in heaven! What is more, he is there for all those whom he represents, those for whom he “tasted death” (Heb. 2:9).
Because Jesus is our representative, his exaltation is our heritage! As he is now, we will one day be. But Jesus’ path to glory led through his own “flesh and blood” experience of temptation, suffering and death (Heb. 2:14). And because Jesus has been here, like us in every way except sin, he is fully able to be our “merciful and faithful high priest” now at God’s right hand. He took our place, that we might someday share his place. In Jesus, we see humanity’s purpose fulfilled.