Home > Advent > Advent Midweek 2–Psalm 8–The Humility and Exaltation of the Son of Man

Advent Midweek 2–Psalm 8–The Humility and Exaltation of the Son of Man


Advent Midweek 2

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Psalm 8

December 10, 2014

“The Humility and Exaltation of the Son of Man”

Reworked from Georg Stoeckhardt’s Advent Predigten

Iesu Iuva

 

Psalm 2 was a clear and unmistakable prophecy of the Messiah.  God said to David’s Lord: “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”  And the eternal Son of the Father was the anointed one who would reign on David’s throne.

 

Psalm 8 is less clear.  If you read the psalm superficially it seems to be a general praise of God the Creator of all things, who made the moon and the stars, the beasts of the field, the birds of the air.  And He set insignificant man over all these things in creation as their lord and king.

 

But a closer look at the Psalm does not sustain this reading.  It hints that “the Son of Man” referred to in verse 4 is a specific person—What is man that you are mindful of him, the Son of Man that You care for him?

 

Verses 5 and 6 go on: “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.” 

 

But all things have not been put under the feet of fallen man.  The angels are not subject to man.  Even the creation is no longer subject to man.  Nor has God crowned fallen man with glory and honor.  These verses show that the psalm has in mind a specific man—the one who would tread on the head of the serpent and would be crowned with glory and honor forever.

 

Besides this, the Holy Spirit makes clear in the New Testament that this psalm refers to Christ.  In 1st Corinthians 15 St. Paul writes: “He [Christ] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  ‘For God has put all things in subjection under His feet.’”

 

And again in Ephesians 1 Paul quotes this Psalm in reference to Jesus: “He has put all things under His feet and has made him head over all things for the church.”

 

And the entire 2nd chapter of the letter to the Hebrews is an explanation of the 8th psalm.  It states that “we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death…”

 

The Holy Spirit makes it clear that Psalm 8 describes Christ. In Psalm 2 David pictured Jesus as the eternal Son of God.  In the 8th psalm we see Jesus pictured as the Son of Man, who would comfort the human race by His appearing.  The psalm does this by showing the Son of Man first in His humiliation and second in His exaltation.

 

+In His humiliation the Son of Man rescued the human race from corruption and destruction.

++In His exaltation the Son of Man brings the human race to glory.

 

+

It is true that God created man to be the lord and ruler of creation.  Man was to bear God’s image in having dominion over the creation and being a reflection of His image and glory.  Psalm 8 reflects the language God used in creating man.  When He created Adam, He said: Let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.  (Gen. 1:26)

 

And God repeated these words after He had made man.  And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that lives on the earth.  (Gen. 1:28)  This particular man God was going to give the lordship and glory that He intended for the children of man from the beginning.  Man was supposed to rule and reign over all creatures.  That was God’s will.  And so it happened at the beginning.  God, the Almighty Creator Himself, wanted to glorify His power, goodness, and wisdom in mankind.  So God created man in His image, in the image of God created He him.  The first man, as he went forth from the creative hand of God, was a bright mirror in which the eternal light shined, which reflected the glory of God.  God had placed man so high that man was in God’s own image.  He was lifted up over the angels so that even the holy angels would serve man.

 

But from this high position man has deeply, deeply fallen.  He has sinned, committed outrage against His Lord and Creator, and thrown away the honor and value that God had given Him.  The fall into sin was a deep fall that plunged man into the deepest disgrace and humiliation.  With that one sinful action man has forfeited and lost the image of God and dominion over the world.

 

Since then the human race lies in the deepest corruption.  We are born and conceived wholly in sin.  We all carry the image of the fallen Adam.  Body and soul are stained and disfigured by sin.  We disgrace God and His holy name instead of giving Him honor.  We love the creature more than the creator.  And so God has given mankind, created to be the lord and king of creation, into the service of the creation as a punishment.  The whole creation is subjected to futility on account of man’s sin.  Weak and powerless man is now left at the mercy of the elements of heaven and earth, storm and weather, water and fire, frost and heat.  Through strenuous labor man now has to force the earth to give him its fruit; in the sweat of his face he eats his bread.  And by such slave labor his powers are consumed and broken.  He dies from it.  Life has become for man a passage to death.  We are subjugated to death.  We are now under the power of the evil one, the foe and the avenger, who rules in sin and death,  and whose desire is to corrupt and destroy the good work of God.

 

Now the psalmist tells of a man who before all others will bear the stamp of shame and humiliation.  David says of Him, What is the man, that you think on Him, and the child of man, that you receive Him?  You make Him a little lower than the angels.  Or, to quote Luther’s translation, You let him be forsaken by God for a little while. V.5-6

 

In the Son of Man, Jesus of Nazareth, we see most clearly the distance that has come between man and God.  No other man was so deeply laid low, so deeply humbled.  The very last traces of human dignity and worth were erased from Him.  The Son of Man, the little child Jesus, was bedded on hay and straw.  He was as poor as the poorest child on earth.  Right away after His birth the little child Jesus would be persecuted.  Usually people leave a child alone.  No one wants to attack a child.  But not Jesus.  Herod pursued Him as an infant, and as He grew He confessed of Himself, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  The Son of Man Jesus wandered homeless, an alien on earth, even in his own country.  And finally He was completely abandoned and forsaken by God.  Though He was God, He was put beneath God and the angels and their comfort and help.    He was abandoned by God.  He descended into a deep into which no other mortal man has gone.  He was like a worm (as Psalm 22 says), there in Gethsemane, writhing in the dust.  Yes, He was a worm and no man.  He was the one despised by all, rejected as worthless by all.  All of the children of men hid their faces before the disgrace and horror of His countenance.  “Behold what a man!”  So said the judge Pontius Pilate when Jesus was led out beaten, spit on, and crowned with thorns.  The world has never seen such a man again.  He hung on the cross, between heaven and earth, abandoned by God and angels and men, suffering agony in soul and body, which no human mouth can express and no human spirit can understand.

 

But through His deep humiliation He has redeemed the children of men, His brothers, whose flesh and blood He took up, from destruction.  He was the only holy, spotless man who ever lived on earth.  He gave God the glory and honor in His life, suffering, and death which Adam and Adam’s race had stolen from God.  The Holy One stands in for sinners.  And so He has made propitiation for the sins of the people as a merciful and faithful high priest, turning away God’s anger by His sacrifice and restoring God’s favor (Hebrews 2:17).

 

But after the well of misery and trouble was stopped up—that is, sin—now even death has lost its power.  He delivered those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2: 15).  Now we sinful, mortal sons of men no more need to fear death.  We can undergo all the adversities of this life in patience and with a courageous spirit.  Through His own death the Son of Man has destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14).  The foe, the avenger, no longer has any power over us.  Jesus, the Son of Man, was and is Himself the ruler of all things, the God and King of heaven and earth.  For this reason the Son of God took up the flesh and blood of the children of men, and so deeply humbled Himself under God, angels, and men—that He might rescue men out of the depths of hell, redeem them from corruption, and free them from their bonds—the bonds of sin, death, and the devil.

 

++

 

But He was only made a little lower than the angels, or forsaken by God, for a short time.  Then God Himself crowned Him with glory and honor and splendor.  The Son of Man is now exalted.  And through His exaltation He has raised up the human race to glory.

 

This poor, weak man, scorned by the people, now rules over heaven and earth and all creatures.  And He shines now not only in the glory of the first Adam, as king over creation through God’s will; the second Adam now also has the divine majesty which lived in Him during His humiliation and which He freely held back for our salvation.  He reigns not only like Adam did before the fall into sin—as perfect man formed in God’s image.  He reigns as God the Lord Himself.  As ruler and creator of heaven and earth He rules in heaven and earth as true God and man.  This man Jesus sits on God’s throne.  He reigns with the scepter of omnipotence over all things.

 

And He uses this kingly, divine reign for the best interests of the children of men, His brothers according to the flesh.  God made the author of salvation perfect through suffering for this purpose: that He might lead many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10).  The Son of Man sanctifies us (Heb. 2:11).  He has opened our eyes, that we rightly know Him in His divine majesty and as our Lord and Redeemer.  He has drawn us to Himself, crowned us with beauty and splendor and honor, for we are bound to Him who sits on the throne.  He adorns and decorates us with his image, His blood and righteousness.

 

We are the people of His good pleasure, called out of darkness to declare His excellencies, to praise and honor God.  He, the perfected Son of Man, sanctifies, purifies, and cleanses us completely through His Spirit.  He draws us to share His image, to follow after Him and emulate Him.  See, the noble features of the divine image will be, bit by bit, visible in those who are sanctified through faith in Him.  The image of the old Adam disappears, and the image of the new Adam emerges more clearly.  He, the Son of Man, on the throne of God, protects His own, His church, against all raging of the enemy and avenger, the devil.  “For because He himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”  (Heb. 2:18)

 

He makes us mortal, powerless children of men to be participants in His divine power and strength.  Thus even out of the mouths of young children and infants, who in His name are baptized, He has established strength—praise—the praise of those who win the victory.  Christians, great and small, babies and adults, who sing “Hosanna” to the Son of David and believe in His name, overcome all their foes, even the worst foe of all, the avenger, the devil.  The apostle John writes his little children, “You have overcome the evil one.”  1 Jn. 2:14  We overcome Him through faith in Christ who has atoned for our sins.  Through faith in Christ we offer the sacrifice of praise to God, the victory shout that drives Satan away.  The devil, who brought men to fall and made them sinners, cannot keep sinful men from being rescued and saved and praising the ruler of all nations, Jesus Christ, for eternity.

 

The exalted, perfected Son of Man leads many children to glory.  There we will fully come into glory.  We will wear the image and likeness of God again and be perfect men.  There will the righteous shine as the sun, moon, and stars, and will shine more beautifully than the first Adam in the state of innocence.  Also our mortal boy will then be like the glorious body of Christ.  We will see the eternal light of God.  We will reign and rule with Christ, the Son of Man, and will judge the world and angels together with Him.  And we will exalt the lordly name of Him who sits on the throne and give Him honor and glory for eternity.  This glory and honor is certain for us.  Our head is already exalted.  We are bound to Him and will go where He has gone.  Therefore we boast now already, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  Amen.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

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