“The New Adam, Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 2:5-9)
Listen to the Sermon:
Hear now the word of the Lord from Hebrews 2:5-9.
5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the Son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 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. 9 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
This is the word of the Lord.
One evening several weeks ago, Lori and I sat down and we watched a short documentary on the Netherlands. Netherlands being a country in northern Europe, if you didn’t know where that was. Much of the documentary focused not on the history of the Netherlands, although I suppose that would be interesting, but rather on how human ingenuity in the present is overcoming a number of challenges presently facing that country.
The Netherlands is a rather small country; it’s about a fifth the size of Nebraska. I did my research on this. It also contains roughly eight and a half times the population of Nebraska. So, a lot of people packed into a relatively small space, at least by the Nebraska standards. Moreover, something like about a third of the Netherlands sits below sea level, as well as 90 percent of the second most populous city, Rotterdam. Therefore, flooding is always a persistent threat for the population of the Netherlands.
Yet despite all of these challenges facing this really small northern European country, the documentary highlighted how human ingenuity is at work in overcoming a number of these obstacles. It focused on some of the incredible water management strategies and facilities that literally cordoned off the North Sea, thus preventing devastating floods. It showed how technology in farming, specifically lettuce farming, was leading to exponentially higher yields in a given year than might otherwise have been expected for the amount of land being farmed.
It also showed how the Netherlands is addressing some of their space issues by simply creating more land. They’ve been draining flooded lands for the last few decades, if not the last century, and they’ve also been taking sand from the North Sea and creating more land off the coast. In fact, 17 percent of the Netherlands is in fact reclaimed land of this sort.
So, in summary, this documentary highlighted how humans in the Netherlands are overcoming, over the past century or so, some really big obstacles with some monumental engineering marvels, an attempt to subdue nature, to get control over things, and increase the quality of life as the population grows.
Now there’s something to be said, I think, for creativeness and human industry of this sort. It’s incredible, I think, to see these various projects that, by the common grace of God, human beings have successfully undertaken throughout human history. The efforts in the Netherlands are just one example of this kind of human genius at work.
Yet even with all of these great human achievements in mind and the various projects that literally seek to bring creation under control, I think in our day-to-day experience we are more often than not confronted with just how many things continue to be frustratingly out of our control. Despite our best efforts, we apparently can’t keep a virus from infecting people in our world, nor could we prevent death even with the incredible medical advances of the past century or so. Though we can build dams and pumps like they do in the Netherlands to control nature to some extent, nature doesn’t cooperate endlessly. Those man-made things eventually break down and often disastrously so.
Even if we fooled ourselves into thinking, even just for a moment that we could usher in some kind of utopia, some kind of heaven here on earth ,well I think those dreams come crashing down to earth the moment we accept how much trouble we have to simply control our own tongues or to keep our emotions in check or our desires from being sinfully inflamed.
You see, by God’s grace, humans have accomplished much in this world and it’s all by God’s grace. More often than not, I think we’re frustrated by the fact of so many things remaining outside our control. All of these frustrations over this control is a problem we have which can be traced down to a singular issue and that issue is sin. Sin which is what led to brokenness in our world in the first place. Sin which frustrates nearly everything we do. Sin which puts us at enmity with God. Sin which, apart from God’s intervention, we are powerless to do anything about.
Friends, we have a serious control problem and that control problem brings a whole lot of frustration in our lives, but that control problem is ultimately rooted in a sin problem. The good news of the gospel and the good news of our passage is that the Lord for us and for our salvation has dealt with our sin problem.
He has rectified our control problem by placing all things in subjection of his perfect and sinless Son, Jesus Christ, who took upon himself human flesh and in the fullness of time to pay for our sins and to represent us in his humanity in a way that Adam should have but failed to do so.
Our big idea this morning is simply this, all things are subject to the Son.
As we work through our passage we’ll see that despite these present frustrations we encounter in our lives and in our world that often boil over when we face our present lack of control over things that are both seen and unseen, that the Lord himself has and will frustrate sin, death, and the devil on our behalf through his Son. Through his Son who brings a new world, who became a new Adam, and who was brought low and broken.
Those are our three points we’re going to work through as we work through this text.
1. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, Brings a New World
2. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, Became for Us a New Adam
3. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was Brought Low and Broken
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, Brings a New World
If you’re looking at your text, in verse 5 we read this,
5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. Hebrews 2:5, ESV
Notice that in this verse there’s an implied contrast that’s set up for us immediately, a contrast between two worlds, if you will. There’s the world to come, and that’s what’s explicitly stated in our text. In that there’s also an underlying assumption that the coming world, when it comes, will replace another world which we might refer to as the present world. So, we have a contrast here in verse 5, in our opening verse. A contrast between this present world and the world to come.
When we consider what the Scriptures have to say about this present world and when we consider our own experiences of this present world ,well I think we can understand why there’d be a desire for another world to replace this present world. After all the Scriptures teach us that this present world in which we live is a world that continues to be, and always has since Adam, been corrupted by sin. It’s a world where things aren’t as bad as they could be. Where human achievements, much like they have in the Netherlands, are still possible but nevertheless a world in which sin and evil persists. A world where human beings are by nature corrupted by sin and depravity. It’s a world of conflict too.
Notice that in our text our author tells us that this coming world isn’t subject to the angels, but there is a sense, the Scriptures teach us, that this present world, in God’s sovereignty, has been subject to angels. Paul tells us for instance in Ephesians 6:12 that in this present age we’re steeped in spiritual conflict, in that we wrestle, “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Now to be sure there was never a time in world history when all things weren’t subject to God in the sense that he was always and always will be the sovereign, ruling and reigning over all things spiritual or otherwise. Yet in this present age we see, in God’s sovereignty, that rule contested by spiritual powers of all sorts, joined together by human sin and rebellion.
So, this present age is an age of conflict, it’s an age of frustration, and this was the present world that the original audience to the Hebrews were familiar with too. It is a world at odds with God, a world frustrated by corruption and toil. A world frustrated too with any who would ally themselves with the Lord. This is the present world of our experience, as well it’s a world where things far too often seem outside of our control and just when it seems that we have a handle on one problem, well another problem blows up in our faces. It’s a world of sin, a world of conflict.
So, in view of all of these problems brought about by human sin and rebellion that we read about in the Scriptures, and that’s so true of our experience as well, we can understand why a new world might be appealing, why a new world might be hoped for. This is exactly the hope that’s held out for us here in verse 5.
Notice again that in contrast to this present world, this present evil age subject to sin and evil spiritual activity, is the world to come. Now this is a world, this coming world that’s described in the book of Hebrews, and actually a few different ways. In Hebrews 6:5 the author of Hebrews refers to this as, “the age to come.” In Hebrews 13:14 it’s called, “the city that is to come.”
Collectively these phrases, though each term communicates something a little bit different, they all work together to point us forward to a world which, in contrast to the present one, is free from sin and corruption. A world in which competing evil spiritual forces have been entirely subdued. A world without the frustrations that characterize our existence in the present world. A world that’s subject to one uncontested king, Jesus Christ. A world where the people of God enjoy what we were created and redeemed to do and enjoy from the very beginning; that is have unconstrained fellowship with the Lord.
So ,to review, we have two ages, or we might call them two cities or two worlds or two kingdoms. There’s the present one and there’s the one to come. At the same time as we look forward, as the people of God, to this coming world to supplant the present frustrating one, the way the New Testament explains this relationship between the two worlds is that the coming world has already broken into this present one through Christ and through his church.
The New Testament teaches us elsewhere that when Christ came into this present world, when he the eternal Son of God took upon himself human flesh to become for us the better second Adam, that he inaugurated this coming world. Even though this coming world won’t be fully realized until the end of the age, when this present world fades away, this coming world is really already in a sense present.
We enter into this world, we enter this kingdom, we take up citizenship in this city very simply when we come to believe in Jesus. When we believe on Jesus, we are told in the Scriptures, that we belong no longer to this world of frustration and sin. We live in it of course, but that’s not where we belong, that’s not where our true home is. Instead we belong to another one and a bit later in Hebrews when our author mentions the age to come, (again all these terms age to come and kingdom come and city to come and world to come they’re all kind of parallel with each other) our author tells us that we, in the present, have actually already begun to taste the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come.
Now brothers and sisters, it’s unquestionably true that we live in an age of frustration, an age where things just seem out of control, an age where even our best accomplishments come up short and are always far outnumbered by our failures. As Christians for instance, we repent of our sin and then the very next moment we’re struck by another angle of our sin that we have to repent of, and that cycle continues in perpetuity over and over again.
This is an age of frustration, but friends, in Jesus Christ our citizenship isn’t in this world. In fact, it belongs to another world and to another city. By the grace of God we have the privilege of tasting the powers of that world even now every time we come into this assembly, for instance, with our brothers and sisters, and we sit under the ministry of the Word, and we partake of very simple bread and wine, we partake of sacraments. When we do that the Spirit transforms our minds and hearts by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.
In all of those ways we experience the powers of the age to come in the here and now. Though we do not see this coming world and all of its fullness in all of its splendor or in all of its glory, friends know that it’s already broken into the present world and we experience a foretaste of it now and will one day be all that we know.
So, the first answer to our control problem, if you will, our lack of control which is rooted again in our sin problem and all of the frustrations that spring from it, is a new world, a cosmic renovation project. It’s a world that Christ has already inaugurated and a world that will one day supplant the present evil age in its entirety.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, Became for Us a New Adam
Now as we approach the next part of our passage the focus shifts from this coming world itself to the man who brings this new world to fruition, that is the Son of God Jesus Christ who became for us a new Adam. So, beginning in verse six our author cites for us a portion of a psalm, it’s actually Psalm 8:4-6.
If you’re following along with me in your Bible you may notice that beginning here in verse six, and then through verse eight, that the text is indented a little bit. Typically, in the New Testament, that tips you off to the fact that our authors are quoting something out of the Old Testament. That’s exactly what we find here, our author citing Psalm 8:4-6. He’s picking up this Song with the goal of showing us, very simply, that Jesus is the ideal man of whom this psalm speaks. In short that Jesus Christ the Son of God is the one who fulfills this psalm by taking human flesh, by becoming man, and then representing you and me in the flesh perfectly.
To understand the force of the argument that our author is making at this point, I think it’s wise that we back up for a moment and we actually understand Psalm 8 in its entirety, in its original context. So, if you have your Bibles with you, I’d invite you to turn with me briefly to Psalm 8 and I’m going to read for you the entirety of it. It’s not very long, it’s only 9 verses or so, but I think it’s important for us to understand it, to understand ultimately what our author is getting at here in Hebrews 2:6-8. So, let me read for you Psalm 8:1-9,
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the Son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8:1-9, ESV
So, in this psalm David, and it’s King David who’s probably the author of this psalm, we notice that he’s worshiping the Lord, he’s engaged in worship and he worships in view of the Lord’s majestic works of creation. Notice that the entire psalm of Psalm 8, if you’re looking at it, it’s framed by these dominant notes of praise that begin the psalm and end the psalm. We read, “Oh Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Then in the center of the psalm David recounts God’s works of creation that prompts David to worship the Lord. You see it’s only fitting and right that when we consider the beauty and the design of creation as we gaze upon this world that the Lord has created, that should lead us to worship the creator and the designer of all things, the Lord. This is what David does too.
You know although the contemplation of creation should lead all of us, I think, to worship the Lord, notice that David’s focus in this psalm is drawn specifically to the creation of one being in particular. That being is mankind, human beings. That the Lord would stoop down to create insignificant beings like us, that he would then care of us, that he would give us the privilege and honor of being his image bearers, that he would grant us dominion and authority over creation for his glory, all of that gives David pause and propels him to worship the Lord.
Now ultimately this psalm, Psalm 8, is a reflection on another text of Scripture, Genesis 1:26-28. So, if you’re following along Hebrews 2, then we have Psalm 8, then Genesis 1:26-28, kind of three layers to this. Genesis 1:26-28 is the text about the creation of one man, that is Adam, in the image and likeness of God. We learn in that text, Genesis 1:26-28, that Adam was granted dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every creeping thing on the earth.
Adam had the privilege and the honor of being created in the image of God and then of ruling and subduing the creation for the glory of God. That is, of extending God’s rule and reigns throughout the entire earth as God’s servant and Son. That was his original purpose in creation, just like it was the original purpose of mankind in creation to do that. That we should have perfect fellowship with the Lord like Adam, and that we would steward all things under his kingly rule for his glory. That was the original intent of creation and that’s what Genesis 1:26-28 envisions in the creation of Adam, and that’s what David envisions in Psalm 8 that is cited here in Hebrews 2.
Yet although that glorious privilege of being created in the image of God and ruling and doing all things for the glory of God was granted to Adam in the garden, shortly after creation we know that Adam rather than fulfilling that vocation, rather than ruling and subduing all of creation for the glory of God, was instead ruled and subdued himself by the creation. By a serpent he fell into sin, and then he brought the entire world into sin with him. Ever since that point in human history, the original creative purposes of mankind have been frustrated. Such that we don’t have dominion over that which we were originally supposed to have dominion. The world fell out of subjection to Adam after the fall. The world isn’t subject to us because of our sin and the brokenness of the world. Although we still have dignity and worth as image bearers, frustration and failure has tainted our creative purposes to rule and subdue for the glory of God ever since that point.
Thanks be to God that into that predicament entered God himself in the Son of God Jesus Christ. Teturning to our text Hebrews 2 with this background in mind, when the author of Hebrews cites Psalm 8:6-8 all of this stuff is in the background, but his focus, the author of Hebrews’ focus, rests no longer on Adam, as Genesis 1:26-28 did, nor on mankind in general as Psalm 8 in its original context did. Instead it now rests on how the Lord Jesus Christ has fulfilled this psalm, together with the creative purposes of mankind found in creation, by becoming for us a new Adam.
It’s as if the author of Hebrews at this point in our text is saying that while in Adam all of humanity has been frustrated by sin and death, and because of Adam humanity has never known the creative purposes for which we were made, there’s new Adam, a better Adam who fulfilled everything Adam should have been, everything we should have been but failed to be, namely Jesus Christ our Lord.
Whereas Adam fell and we fell in Adam and we have followed in the footsteps of Adam ever since through our own sin and transgressions, Jesus Christ is the new Adam who took upon himself human flesh to represent us in a way that Adam failed to do. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the true man, he’s the ideal man that Adam never lived up to. The one who responded to God in his 30 year in the flesh ministry some 2,000 years ago as an obedient Son and servant. Who, in light of what he accomplished, will bring us not into death any longer but into a glorious new world? The world we heard about in verse 5. A world in which Adam never brought creation into.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was Brought Low and Broken
How exactly then did Jesus do that? How did he become for us the second Adam? Well this is what the author of Hebrews gets at in verse 9 when he reflects on just how Jesus Christ, the Son of God, fulfills Psalm 8. In summary he fulfills it, he becomes for us the second Adam by being brought low and broken. This is our third point.
By the end of verse 8 we see that our author makes the point that while Adam didn’t have all things in subjection under his feet, sin ensured that didn’t happen, we don’t have all things in subjection under our feet. We have things wildly outside of our control, our sin, nature and the sin of the world ensured that that couldn’t happen, that we couldn’t have all things in subjection to our feet.
We learned that in Christ, the second Adam, all things have been placed under his feet. For that to happen in history, the Son had to be brought low and broken. In other words, in becoming for us the better Adam the Son first had to step into human history, first in the words of our text,
9 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 2:9, ESV
In the fullness of time the eternal Son of God, like we said, has took upon himself a true body like you and I have, and rational human faculties like you and me have. He never in the process emptied himself of his divinity or his divine attributes, but for a little while he never made use of them, he didn’t make use of them. He subjected himself to our weaknesses in every way, except for sin, and then throughout the entirety of his in the flesh ministry he lived in perfect obedience to the law of God.
He was the obedient Son, he was the faithful servant that Adam never was and that you and I could never be. Then having represented us in his life, well then, he represented us in his death by being broken. Then as our text says, by tasting death for everyone.” Everyone whom the Father gave to him before the foundation of the world. In his incarnate in the flesh ministry he took upon himself all of our infirmities, all of our weaknesses that he might represent us in our nature. Then he was broken that he might pay the penalty for our sin and cleanse us from our sin.
Even that’s not the end of the story because our author continues and tells us that when he was broken and died for our transgressions, while he was also raised too, he was crowned with glory and honor. Raised, as Paul says in Romans 4, for our justification that we might be in the right with God and have what Adam and Eve in the sense lost when they were thrust out from the garden. to have that which the Bible holds out as the ultimate purpose of creation and redemption, the ultimate prize that the people of God could long for. That is communion again with Father, Son, and Spirit in a new and better world.
This is the hope that we have set before us in view of our control problem and in view of our sin problem and all of it centers in on one man, Jesus Christ our Lord.
So, what should we do with all this? Well, let me offer us three applications to consider as we prepare to close.
1. Know that the present world will always bring frustrations. After all who among us hasn’t been frustrated this year? Plans have been disrupted, I know some of you have had to cancel trips. Economic loss has plagued many in our communities, maybe even you. Social unrest continues. COVID-19 itself continues to infect people in our communities, including people we love.
This has been a unique year, that is 2020, a year of frustration. Even beyond this year and its own unique set of frustrations that have accompanied it and have come with it, we always have and will always experience the thorns of living in a fallen world in a whole host of other ways too.
Maybe your marriage is it isn’t what it once was when you got into it and expectations have since gone unmet. Or your job is becoming increasingly a drudgery and a burden. Or loneliness continues to creep into your life. Or you feel spiritually dried up and tapped out.
Brothers and sisters all of us have unique frustrations this year, yes, but even apart from this year frustrations after frustrations after frustrations are an inevitable part of our lives in this old fallen world.
So, how do you respond when you encounter frustrations like we do and like we will always have until Christ brings us home? You see frustrations like these and others, I think, should point all of us to the hope of glory when Christ comes again on the clouds. They should point us to the eternal rest that’s held out for us in Christ.
Yet far too often when we experience these frustrations of various kind, well instead we look for someone to blame and very often that someone isn’t Adam. Instead we look to blame someone in our own present experiences. Now that’s not to suggest that people don’t get it wrong, or that people don’t sin against us, of course they do most certainly and sometimes in horrific ways.
Yet if we don’t recognize that we are in this fallen world, both the sinned against and the sinners, and together that we inhabit a sinful world. At its core if we fail to understand that sin is the core source of all of our frustrations, the sin of others, your own sin, and the general brokenness of living in the sinful world, well we’ll continue to be frustrated and embittered people who never look for the right solution.
We’ll continue to navigate the world looking for greener grass somewhere else thinking that maybe a new spouse is the answer or thinking that maybe a new church is what will satisfy. Perhaps imagining along the way that everyone else and everything else is to blame without looking to the root of sin in your own life and in the world.
The inescapable result is that we will be terribly disappointed embittered people again and again and again. So, brothers and sisters know that this present world will always bring frustration. Know that those frustrations are ultimately rooted in sin; your sin, the sin of others, and the general brokenness of the sinful present world.
So, don’t look to this present world to satisfy what it cannot satisfy or to fix what there’s no way in heaven or on earth that it will fix. Don’t look to this present world, it’ll only bring frustration. That’s our first application.
2. So instead of looking to this present world to solve what it cannot, look to the world to come. Now of course it’s true, we’ve said this already, that the world to come hasn’t fully arrived. Don’t downplay the powers of the age to come that we are presently, as the people of God, advantage to experience. In other words, don’t downplay ministry of the Word and sacrament. Don’t downplay the power of the Holy Spirit who draws and shapes hearts, minds, and affections. Even right now these things, these means of grace, that we experience in the church are our foretaste, they’re our appetizer, for the world to come in all of its fullness. So, know that one day we’ll see Jesus face to face. One day our hope, which theologians refer to as the beatific vision that is perfect communion and fellowship with the Lord in glory, is in Christ a certainty.
As we look to that world to come and that great privilege of seeing Christ Jesus face to face, well we also have the privilege of coming into this assembly every week, every Lord’s day, and actually training as it were for that world to come. So, look to the world to come, trust that that world is coming. Also look to that world and live for that world now, by embracing the foretaste of it in the church particularly in worship and communion with the Lord.
3. Even more than looking to the world to come, look to the ruler of the world to come, look to Jesus Christ. In verses 8 through 9 we heard our author raise the dilemma that although all things have been subjected to Christ, that we don’t yet see all things in subject to him. Remember that we live in what’s called the overlap of the ages. We don’t see this coming world and all of its fullness and all of its glory and all of its splendor, instead we see a world with our physical eyes ravaged by sin.
We see death, we see disease, we see suffering, and the Bible is in no way blind to those troubles that plague our experience, nor does it ever call us to imagine those things as just an illusion. It does call us to see the whole picture and to see the whole picture requires that we also see with eyes of faith and that we see Jesus Christ. Understand that when our author makes this claim in verse 9, he says we see Jesus.
At this point in history, even as the audience to the Hebrews are hearing this that Jesus had already ascended, and more than that the author of Hebrews and the audience to which he’s writing are probably second-generation Christians who never saw Jesus through physical sight in the first place. In that respect these Christians are very much like us. Neither they nor we are at a disadvantage, because although we don’t see Jesus by sight, we do see Jesus right now with eyes of faith as we gaze upon his glory in and through his Word.
Brothers and sisters, we see Jesus when we look to his Word. We see Jesus when we open up the Scriptures and the spirit of Christ begins to take every thought captive in us to the obedience of Christ. We see Jesus when we see in the Scriptures and come to believe that he is the yes, the amen to all of the promises of God.
So if you are living frustrated in this frustrating world where things just seem regularly out of control and you’ve never really looked at Jesus or believed on Jesus, why don’t you do that today? Look to the Word. Believe on Jesus as the solution to your control problem, which at its core is your sin problem. This present world is not the answer, it cannot be the answer, so instead look to Jesus, trust in Jesus. When you do know that you will have become citizens of the world to come.
If you’re living frustrated in this frustrating world and you really do believe on Jesus, let me encourage you to keep looking to Jesus in and through his Word. Know that when we see the world with eyes of faith and specifically, we see Jesus, our only hope in this world that’s passing away with eyes of faith, that we’re reminded that there is one who has a grip on this world. There is one for whom all things are not out of control as they are for us. There is one who will come again and bring us fully and finally into a new and better and permanent world. That man is Jesus Christ.
Pray with me. Heavenly Father we give you thanks and praise for your Word, your Word has to say about Jesus and through Jesus, what your Word says about us as well. We pray, Lord, that we would take these things to heart, that you would help us not invest our hope in this present world, which is passing away, but we would vest it in the world to come. More than that, that we would vest it in Jesus Christ our Lord. Father would you encourage us by these things, would you drive us to repentance after hearing these things, and would you prepare us right now as we prepare to come to the table and taste and see that the Lord is good. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.