For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:5-9 ESV
The longer Jesus, the resurrected Messiah, was gone from the face of the earth, the easier it became for the believers living when this letter was written to forget about Him. It was a case of the old adage: out of sight, out of mind. Most, if not all, of the recipients of this letter would never have seen Jesus face to face. They would have come to faith in Him some time after His death and resurrection. And it would appear, based on the author’s emphasis on drifting away, that there were those who were having second thoughts regarding either the deity or exclusivity of Jesus. They were running the risk of taking lightly what Jesus had done for them, which is why the author warned them not to “neglect such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3 ESV).
They say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but that is not always the case. And it most certainly did not seem to be the case in this instance. This entire letter is a defense of Jesus – His divinity, incarnation, mission, message, sacrifice, ascension, exaltation, and coming return. Using the Old Testament Scriptures to point the way, the writer presents Jesus as the divine agent of redemption for mankind. Quoting from Psalm 8:4-6, he writes, “You made him for a little while lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:7 ESV). Jesus, the Son of God, the creator of the universe, left His place at the right hand of God the Father and took on human flesh. He humbled Himself by becoming a man in order that He might accomplish what no man had ever been able to do: Live in sinless, selfless obedience to the commands of God.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. – Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT
But the author of Hebrews wants his readers to know that Jesus, while He was a man, was also fully divine. He was God in human flesh. He was the God-man. And after He had accomplished His Father’s will and given His life as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, He was raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit of God and returned to His rightful place at His Father’s side. His time on this earth, when He was made “a little lower than the angels,” was short. As a result of His accomplishment of His Father’s will, God “crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (Hebrews 2:7-8 ESV). Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians:
Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:6-11 ESV
Jesus may be out of sight, but He is far from out of control. And He should never be out of mind. We read that, “in putting everything in subjection to him, he [God] left nothing outside of his control” (Hebrews 2:8 ESV). Yes, it’s true that, from our perspective, it would appear that some things are outside of His control. The world does not appear to be living in submission and obedience to Christ. But we must always remember that God’s plan in not yet complete. Christ’s job is not yet finished. When He said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:20 ESV), He was speaking of His God-given mission to become the atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He had accomplished that part of His assignment. But He is not done. He is still at work. And one day He is coming back to fully complete the assignment given to Him by His Father from before the foundation of the world.
One day, everything and everyone will be under His subjection. He will rule and reign over all. He will be King of kings and Lord of lords. But we must never grow cavalier or complacent regarding His subjection on our behalf. It was His suffering that led to His glorification. “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9 ESV). He suffered for our sake. Paul puts it this way, “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God” (Romans 4:25 NLT). His resurrection and exaltation made possible our justification. We are right with God because Jesus satisfied the just demands of His heavenly Father. He fully paid the debt we owed with His own life. And God raised Him from the dead as proof of His acceptance of that payment. By the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for everyone, so that we might have life – eternal life.