Service Leader: Good morning, everyone. Today’s theme is the theme of praise, and you can note in the bulletin the rationale for such an appropriate dependence on Psalm 145. Psalm 145 praises God for the two things that for which praise is to be rendered: for who God is and for what he has done. Grateful for my colleague Mark Futato, sharing a word with us today about Christ and his ascended state and his ministry to us as the one who has been crowned with glory and honor. And so will you stand with me as we hear the call to worship from Psalm 145, building upon the promise of invocation:
Invocation and Psalm
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy” (Ps. 145:18–20).
]Let’s sing the first part of Psalm 145 together to the tune of Duke Street. You’ll recognize it as “Jesus Shall Reign” as Molly accompanies us.
Singing: I will thee praise my God, O King. / And I will ever bless thy name; / I will extol thee every day / And evermore thy praise proclaim.
The Lord is great; he praise exceeds; / His greatness fully search can none. / Race shall to race extol thy deeds / And tell thy mighty acts each one.
Upon thy glorious majesty / And wondrous works my mind shall dwell; / Men shall recount thy dreadful acts, / And of thy greatness I will tell.
They utter shall abundantly / The mem’ry of thy goodness great, / And shall sing praises cheerfully / While they thy righteousness relate.
Jehovah very gracious is; / In him compassions also flow; / In lovingkindness he is great, / And unto anger he is slow.
O’er all his works his mercies are; / The Lord is good to all that live. / O Praise, Lord, to thee thy works afford; / Thy saints to thee shall praises give.
Prayer and Text
Mark Futato: Let’s pray together.
Our Father who is in heaven, we together bless you this day as our Father, the one who has cared for us from before all eternity, the one who has knitted us together in our mother’s womb so that we can say we are fearfully and wonderfully made, the one who is tender and kind and compassionate to us. And we bless you as King of the universe, who rules over all supreme, Maker of heaven and earth, God of all providence, King of kings, Lord of Lords. Thank you that you have revealed yourself to us both as our Father and as our King. For this, we bless you now and forever more. Amen.
Be seated, please.
Our Scripture text is short, Hebrews 2:9: “But we do see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” May the Lord bless this brief reading of his Word to each of our hearts today.
Humanity Has Been Crowned with Glory and Honor and Everything Is Under Their Feet
Well, I’m going to start with the Old Testament of course. This verse that I just read comes on the heels of a quotation from Psalm 8. And among other things, Psalm 8 paints a beautiful picture of humanity. And of course in just a few minutes, we don’t have time to detail that, let me just mention two things that I’m sure you’re aware of.
Humanity crowned with glory and honor. Crowned—that’s royal—kings, queens wear crowns and humanity has been crowned. It’s a royal picture. “Glory and honor,” find that pair spread throughout the book of Psalms, and it’s a pair that’s used of royalty, glory and honor. God is glory and honor. The human king is glory and honor. Humanity crowned with glory and honor. You are kings. You are queens. It’s a beautiful picture of humanity created in the image of God, a God of glory and honor, and you’ve been crowned with that glory and honor.
Another thing that the Psalmist draws out is everything under the feet of humanity. Again, that’s a royal picture. It’s a picture of dominion. There’s some beautiful iconography in the ancient Near East of a king with a deer under his foot and a sword in his hand and a lion alongside. This royal dominion is not only supremacy over, but it’s also care for. The king, with the deer under his foot has a sword to defend against all abuse and adversity, crowned with glory and honor, dominion over everything that God has made. What a beautiful picture Psalm 8 paints of humanity.
Our Experience Doesn’t Match Up with This Picture of Glorious and Honorable Humanity
But Psalm 8 also creates a good bit of dissonance with regard to humanity, doesn’t it? When we compare this picture in Psalm 8 with what we see on the news, what we see in our own relationships, what we see at times in the church, we have to say, where is this glory and honor? I don’t see glory and honor; I see human degradation. Where is this caring dominion? I don’t see this caring dominion; I’m appalled at how humans can abuse each other in small and large ways.
And so sometimes when we read these texts that paint such beautiful ideal pictures, it just—if we’re honest and compare them to life—it creates a tremendous dissonance in us between what the Scriptures say and what we actually see. And if you feel that dissonance between the picture of Psalm 8 and what you see when you watch the news or look at your own families, your own churches, you’re not alone because the author of Hebrews saw and felt that same dissonance.
If we go back a little bit earlier in our Hebrew text and start in verse 5, “It’s not to angels that God”—I’m going to replace some of the pronouns to make it clear, at least in my interpretation—“it is not to angels that God has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified; ‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them, individual human beings that you care for them? You made humanity a little lower than the angels; you crowned humanity with glory and honor. You put everything under the feet of the human race.’ And in putting everything under the feet of the human race, God left nothing that is not yet subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to the human race” (Heb. 2:5–8).
The author of Hebrews had his own version of the news that he watched at 6:00 every night. And he too read Psalm 8. And he looked at his world and he says, “I see this glorious picture of humanity crowned with glory and honor. I see this glorious picture of humanity with dominion over everything, and then I watch the news. I have to say, we don’t see it in reality.” He felt that dissonance. And so if you feel that dissonance at times, not only with this text, with other texts between what you read in the Scripture and what you see, you’re running with the best of them, like the author of Hebrews.
While Humans Do Not Yet Display This Glory and Honor, Jesus Does
But whereas the book of Hebrews helps us to feel this dissonance, it also shows us the solution. Because it goes on to say, while we don’t at yet see everything subject to the human race, there is someone whom we do see. We see Jesus. We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death. We see the ultimate abuse, the ultimate degradation of the human race in the death of Christ. And he was willing to experience that degradation, he was willing to experience that so that as a result of that, he might enter into that state of being crowned with glory and honor through his resurrection from the dead.
And so, no, we have to be honest. We don’t always see in our world what we read in the Scriptures, but we walk by faith, not by sight, and the life that we live, we live by faith in the Son of God who has loved us and given himself for us. We do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor.
Jesus Will Bring Us into His Glory and Honor and We Should Help Lead Others
We see a Jesus who not only is himself crowned with glory and honor, but we see a Jesus who is bringing many sons of Adam and daughters of Eve into that same glory.And then just one more thing. Notice the beginning of verse 10: “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory.” We see a Jesus who not only is himself crowned with glory and honor, but we see a Jesus who is bringing many sons of Adam and daughters of Eve into that same glory.
And so I close by just asking the question, why are you here? Not just this morning, but in seminary, in the world, your existence, why are you here? No doubt, for many reasons. But certainly chief among the reasons for why you are here at seminary is that you might see Jesus. That you might see Jesus in your classrooms, in your conversations, in your relationships, that you might see a Jesus crowned with glory and honor. And that as you look into the face of this Jesus crowned with glory and honor you too might be changed a little bit more from one glory to another. And that you might be better equipped as a result of this process to partner with Jesus in bringing many other sons of Adam and daughters of Eve into this glory and honor.
Prayer, Psalm, and Benediction
Father, thank you for your Word, which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We pray that in everything that we do in this day, we might, with the eyes of faith, see a Jesus crowned with glory and honor, and that we might grow in our likeness to him, and that we might grow in our ability of being channels of that glory and honor into the lives of other people. We pray this for our good, for the good of the human race, and ultimately for the honor of Jesus himself. Amen.
Service Leader: Please stand. The psalmist has said, “You, O Lord, are a shield about me, the glory and the lifter of my head” (Ps. 3:3). Let’s complete the singing of this Psalm to the glory and honor of Christ who has passed into the heavens. Let’s sing together.
Singing: The glory of thy kingdom show / Shall they and of thy power tell; / That so men’s sons his deeds may know / His kingdom’s glories that excel.
Thy kingdom has no end at all, / It doth through ages all remain. / The Lord upholdeth all that fall, / The cast down raiseth up again.
The eyes of all upon thee wait, / Their food in season thou dost give; / Thine opened hand doth satisfy / The wants of all on earth that live.
The Lord in his ways all, / In all his works his grace is shown; / The Lord is nigh to all that call, / Who call in truth on him alone.
He will the just desire fulfill / Of such as do him fear indeed, / Their cry regard and hear he will, / And save them in the time of need.
The Lord doth safely keep all those / That bear to him a loving heart, / But workers all of wickedness / Destroy will he and clean subvert.
Then with my mouth and lips I will / Jehovah’s name with praise adore. / And let all bless his holy name / Forever and forever more.
Mark Futato: Well, brothers and sisters, lift up your hearts and receive the blessing of the epistle of Hebrews: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, equip you with everything good for doing his will. And may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Heb. 13:20). Amen.