Crowned with Glory and Honor
Psalm 8:1–9 – Psalms
Easter Sunday – April 21, 2019 (am)
Christ is risen! (He is risen, indeed!)
We rejoice this morning in the truth and the implications of Jesus’ resurrection, three days after His death as a Substitute in full payment for the sins of all who believe. We actually celebrate the resurrection weekly, gathering for corporate worship on Sundays because that’s the day He arose. The resurrection is the centerpiece of our faith. As Paul wrote in 1Co.15:14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain and [our] faith is in vain. In fact, 17 [our] faith is futile and [we] are still in [our] sins. And who could argue? If Jesus is not alive, why are we even here today?
Still, I’ve heard some ask: What difference does the resurrection make to me? What does it mean for me? And I can appreciate that question. It doesn’t always flow from the typical sort of unexamined individualism or self-centeredness that can be so characteristic of us in the affluent western world.Sometimes it’s an honest inquiry about how belief in the risen Jesus might actually change my life today.
So, this morning, I’m going to assume that you know the details of the story about Jesus’ resurrection: how it happened on the third day after he was crucified—using the Jewish means of counting where any part of a day figures as a whole. I’m assuming you know how it was discovered by a group of women that His body was no longer in the tomb, how angels informed them what had happened, and how Jesus then appeared to numerous people over the next forty days: to Mary Magdalene (Joh.20:11-18), to the men on the road to Emmaus (Luk.24:13-35), to the disciples (Mar.16:14), and also to more than five hundred [people] at one time (1Co.15:6). That’s a lot to assume, I know. But these are details we often review with deep gratitude to God each and every Easter Sunday morning.
As we celebrate these facts of the resurrection, though, we don’t want to forget about what it means, what difference it makes. So: How does the resurrection impact, even change, our lives today? I want to make a bold statement here which I will then try to back up with Scripture, from beginning to end (Gen.-Rev.). The statement is this: It’s only through the resurrection of Jesus that we human beings (each and every one of us) can fully realize the true purpose of our existence. How can I make such a statement? Follow the trail with me.
But first, an observation: we human beings do tend to have a pretty exalted opinion of ourselves, don’t we? I know we can get down on ourselves at times. We can feel pretty depressed pretty quickly, especially if accidents or personal failures begin to accumulate. But even then, the primary reason discouragement and depression set in is because we really believe, very deeply,that life should go better than this! No matter how worthless we may feel, just let someone cut in front of us in the cashier line,or while we’re waiting for a table at a restaurant! Let someone tell us we’re not allowed to do something—anything! We discover pretty quickly that our sense of self, even self-importance, is still quite healthy and strong!
We actually have a pretty lofty impression of who we are,what we deserve. That’s one of the reasons we appreciate David’s thought in Psa.8. He poses a question to God: 4 [W]hat is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Answer: 5 … [Y]ou 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.
That’s pretty exalted status: all things under [our] feet, dominion over [all creation], crowned… with glory and honor!This is well beyond what most of us would feel comfortable suggesting we deserve, but this is the Bible!
I remember many years ago the first time I heard about actress Shirley McLaine standing on Malibu Beach with her hands raised to the cosmos saying: I am god! I am god! Most of us thought she may be over-looking one or two of her personal traits! But since then it’s become pretty popular to celebrate your weaknesses as if they were strengths! Just last week I read a statement on one of those message boards at a coffee shop. It said: These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. –KM She was actually quoting a young musician who addressed the UN a few months back. But whoever said it first, whoever says it, seems to think awfully highly of their mistakes, wouldn’t you say?
You’d think that people like us, KM, Shirley McLaine, who so desire to see ourselves in the best possible light might be glad to hear what Scripture says about us. But I think it’s often still lost on such people. Maybe we who are here today, though, might be blessed by it. David actually says us humans have been crowned… with glory and honor by God Himself! Wow!
So, where does this idea come from that David is musing over here in Psa.8? And what does he mean for us today? Is he really saying what he appears to be saying? Answer: Yes and no. But in the grandest of senses: Yes, he is! Let’s answer these two questions we just posed.
Where Does David’s Idea Come From in Psalm 8?
Tracing it takes us all the way back to Gen.1 and the creation of man and woman. Turn there with me. 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 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 heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Wow! Why do we have such an exalted opinion of ourselves?Because we were actually created in the image and likeness of God, then charged by Him to rule over the whole of [creation]on His behalf. That’s exalted status!
Ancient religions used to put an image of their god in his temple to represent his presence and power, but those were lifeless statues. When the one true God put an image of Himself in His own temple (Eden), He made it a living, breathing,reproducing man and woman, with whom He’d share His glory and reign! They’d have a relationship with Him! That’s what’s behind David’s thought here in Psa.8. He’s reviewing Gen.1!
But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there’s a problem here. How well did Adam and Eve fare in Eden? Well, they offended the one restriction God set for them and ended up getting evicted! They got cut off from relationship God! There’s not much glory and honor in that! And since then, humankind,left to itself, has known nothing but cycle upon cycle of sin and failure and despair. Every time we achieve some great goal that restores our faith in ourselves—a trip to the moon, a vaccination that wipes out some deadly disease—it’s at least matched by the next breathtaking demonstration of our seemingly limitless potential for evil—the Turkish slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians, Hitler of 6 million Jews, Stalin of some 20 million in Russia, Mao of 30-60 million in China (3,000-4,000 each day during his twenty-seven year reign!). And that’s only a partial accounting of one category of evil on just two continents over a little more than half a century of human history!
This doesn’t sound like the kind of dominion God had in mind. No, Adam plunged us all into an abyss of sin and self-delusion from which it’s impossible to save ourselves. It’s not getting better, not on its own! And that’s not hard to see. Just like we can see the source of our great aspirations about humanity in the original purpose of our creation, we can also seethe effects of our great fall not only in the unspeakable evil of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, but also in the deviant selfishness of our own hearts, our helpless vulnerability to sinful desire, to disease. It just permeates every part of us.
We’re a fallen lot. And David knew that better than most. He wrote about it often in Psalms. The slightest offense can make us mad. The smallest virus can make us sick. One little accident can take our lives. If this is what it means to be god (a la Shirley McLaine), what good is it? But that’s not our biggest problem. Bigger yet is question 2:
What Does Psalm 8 Mean for Us Today?
Given that Adam and Eve pretty much scuttled the ship of humanity with regard to our exalted standing with God and our lofty calling, what’s left for us in Psa.8? What was David even talking about since we’re not crowned… with glory and honor any longer? This is important because, if we can’t trust the Bible here we can’t really trust it at all!
Well, I do believe David was reflecting on Gen.1, and the amazing plan God had for His image-bearing creatures. But David also knew their fall wasn’t the end of the story. God promised a reversal of that! David was sure of it because God promised him that [his] throne [would] be established forever (2Sa.7:16). And the only sort of throne God would establish forever would be that of a righteous and holy King, One who would rule in a manner worthy of His character and His plan.So, in Psa.8 David wasn’t just writing in historical reflection. He was also writing in prophetic expectation! And a couple NT writers help us see how God plans to work this out, to keep His Word.
The fullest reference to Psa.8 in the NT comes in Heb.21001 where the writer takes David’s reflection there and applies it to Jesus. He’s been arguing that Jesus is God’s final word, superior to a word even from an angel! And he’s transitioning into an argument that Jesus fully identified with us in all aspects of our fallen humanity (17), including our suffering and death (9). And He was then crowned… with glory and honor because His suffering and death accomplished our salvation!
So, Jesus was made for a little while lower than the angels(7a). He was crowned with glory and honor (7b). God put everything in subjection under his feet (8a), which means Jesus is the fulfillment of David’s prophetic expectation in Psa.8!
So, what does this mean for us today? If Jesus fulfilled the prophetic expectation of Psa.8, and did so through His saving work on our behalf, then as we receive His salvation by faith, we enter back into the glorious descriptions that Psa.8 expresses! They become true of us once again!
Put another way, it is only as recipients of this abundant grace of God in Jesus that we are freed from the bondage that robs us of experiencing the lofty status of Psa.8! The writer of Hebrews went on to say (Heb.2:9): :9 … [W]e 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. Jesus became like us in His birth as flesh and blood so that He might become our Substitute in His death, [enduring it] for [all who believe]. Then He was crowned… with glory and honor at His resurrection. As Peter wrote: God raised [Jesus] from the dead and gave him glory (1Pe.1:21).
What, then, does the resurrection mean to us? Peter answers our question well a bit earlier here in his first letter (1Pe.1:3-5). Listen to this! He wrote: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is our inheritance by faith in Christ! It’s actually the purpose of our existence. Nothing less than this will truly satisfy us!
The Lord who will not give His glory to another (Isa.42:8) actually [crowns us] with glory and honor (Psa.8:5). He [transforms] us into His likeness from one degree of glory to another (2Co.3:18) to the praise of his glorious grace (cf. Eph.1:6). And it’s in this [transformation] that the Lord, our Lord, best displays that [His] name truly is majestic in all the earth! (9)
One of our biggest problems in our fallen human pride is not that our sights are set too high for our own good. It’s that they’re set on the wrong thing, such that we end up woefully underestimating what we were truly designed to be according to the eternal plan of God! We were made for a level of glory and honor that is entirely inconceivable to us without factoring in the benevolent purpose of a glorious and all-powerful God. Our problem, then, is that we’re far too easily satisfied! All it takes is a winning lottery ticket, a high-paying job, a career-advancing promotion, a dream vacation, when all along resurrection from the dead and eternal life in heaven, free of all sin and selfishness in the eternal presence of God was His plan! That’s what we were designed to enjoy! And it is actually available to us, proven so by the resurrection of Jesus! So, it’s only through the resurrection of Jesus that we human beings (each and every one of us) can fully realize the true purpose of our existence.
I urge you on this Resurrection Sunday, to embrace and enter into your true purpose today by faith in our crucified, risen, and returning Lord Jesus Christ!