Apr 13, 2012

Thoughts on Hebrews: Exaltation & Humiliation

In preparation for our study of Hebrews 12 this summer at Northland Camp, I've been studying the rest of Hebrews to lay a good foundation of understanding before jumping into chapter 12.
This past week I've spent the majority of my time in chapters 1 & 2, & it has been such an encouragement & challenge to me I wanted to take a few minutes to share what the Lord has been showing me through His word.

Chapter one of Hebrews is all about the exaltation of Christ & clearly emphasizes His superiority over everything. Superiority over angels; superiority over Moses; superiority over the Old Testament priests; superiority over the Old Covenant; etc. In Hebrews 1:10-12 the author makes a reference to Psalm 102 in stating: "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, & the the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but You remain; they will wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and Your years will have no end." The author here is emphasizing Christ's absolute authority & exaltation over everything. Compare that with the Psalmist's contrast of man's fragility & the Lord's stability: "My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass, but You, O Lord, are enthroned forever; You are remembered throughout all generations." (Psalm 102:11-12)

What an incredible, & obvious contrast! I have been enjoying a great commentary on Hebrews from the Tyndale New Testament Series (awesome stuff!), & the author, Donald Guthrie, had some great thoughts on these particular verses:

             This passage speaks to the Son's role in creation; the author draws attention to a profound idea about the Son, i.e: His changelessness. The earth & the heavens seem substantial enough, yet they will perish. 
The transitoriness of the apparently changeless material creation serves to heighten the contrast with the Divine stability. There is a majestic ring about the words but thou remainest. This statement focuses attention on the unshakable stability which is further enhanced by the striking picture of God rolling up the heavens & earth, now tattered like a worn-out garment, as if they are of no further use. This magnificent glimpse by the Psalmist into the winding up of the present age is intended to lead to the climax; but You are the same. 
In face of the disintegration everywhere else, the unchangeable character of the Son stands out in unmistakable contrast (Guthrie pp. 77-78).

The author continues to drive the idea of Christ's obvious superiority, glory & absolute sovereignty over all of creation in vs. 13: "And to which of the angels has [God] ever said, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a foot stool for your feet'"?

The idea of the Son's enthronement is now repeated to bring out the most obvious contrast between Jesus Christ & the highest order of created beings. At no time are angels ever conceived of as sitting, & therefore the enthronement of Jesus at once established His superiority. Not only is His sovereignty stressed, but also His absolute power over His enemies. That this idea is prominent in the writer's mind is clear from his repeating the statement in chapter 10:12-13. In both chapters 1 & 10, the enthronement & victory are linked with Jesus Christ's atonement for sins (Guthrie pp. 78-79). 

This obvious picture of Christ's power, authority, & absolute sovereignty makes the humiliation of His crucifixion even more striking. We just celebrated Easter last weekend, & I took time on Saturday to read through the gospel of John & then watch the movie the Passion of the Christ. I am very visual, so it was very intense & emotional for me to see a representation of just how much suffering & humiliation Christ went through to redeem humanity. Then to read the opening of Hebrews again early in the week just underlined the sacrifice He made in coming to earth as a man. From power over all, to the image given to us in the Passion of the Christ; Jesus beaten to the point of death, no strength left, unrecognizable, crawling towards His cross to make atonement for humanity's sin....crazy, determined love. It was a great reminder to me of just how incredible the gospel is. I would encourage you to take some time this week & really focus on the contrast of the glory that Christ had in heaven to what He chose to embrace for the sake of redeeming us. 

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:2-5 ESV)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

Christ: "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." (John 10:17-18a)

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)


  1. First of all thank you so much for this post. You word things so well and are such a blessing.

    Second, wow...two blog posts in a week :)

  2. Great thoughts Alicia! I love the book of Hebrews:)