Text: Hebrews 2:4-9
After Jesus resurrected, one of the last things His told His disciples, just before He ascended to heaven, was this: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). But if Jesus has all power, and He is in control, why is there still so much evil in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people, if God really is in control?
For the Christians this letter was first written to, that question was real. Having converted from Judaism to Christianity, they were suffering under extreme persecution – from the Roman government, and even from their own families. No doubt, they were wrestling with that question in real time: If Jesus is in control, why is He allowing us to go through all this? If He’s ruling and reigning over all things, why are His people suffering? Maybe you’ve asked this as well.
1. God’s original plan for man to rule
God made man in His image to have relationship with them. Their Creator loved them, and they would love Him. Perfect relationship. Perfect harmony. And as God’s own reflection, man would be entrusted with taking care of the beautiful creation God had made.
And God was not just looking for someone to manage the store. God wanted someone who would take ownership. Someone whom God could give authority over all creation, to tend it and care for it in such a way that God’s own good character and nature would be reflected. That’s the original intention God had for man – a place of honor and authority ruling over creation.
Now, the Christians that Hebrews was originally written to, they probably felt just the opposite. Instead of honored, they were being degraded because of their faith. Instead of being in authority, they were being victimized by the authorities over them. So the writer of Hebrews has to remind them of the truth. And he quotes from Psalm 8 to do it.
But creation would submit to man’s rule only as long as man was submitted to God’s rule. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they forfeited the right to rule God’s creation, and opened up all creation to the destructive consequences when creation rejects its Creator.
That’s why our world is broken today. That’s where evil comes from. That’s why we have death and disease. That’s why we have crime and murder. That’s why we have endless ailments to mind and body. To heart and soul. Struggles in our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other, even our relationship with nature itself. It’s all because of the deadly effects of sin on our world, around us and in us.
But as devastating as man’s sin was, it was not enough to derail God’s plan of redemption. In fact, this was God’s ultimate plan all along, that even though man would sin, God would send a Savior…
2. God’s ultimate plan for Christ to rule
To these Christians suffering persecution and hardship, the writer agrees, that when we look around at the world right now, it doesn’t seem like everything is under God’s control. In fact, it looks like things are out of control. So where are we to find hope?
[8b] 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…
Now the plan is revealed: God made the world. God made man. God gave man the authority to rule and reign over the world. Man forfeited that role and subjected God’s good creation to the corruption of sin. God enacted His plan to redeem man and rescue creation by God becoming a man. Namely Jesus!
We call it the incarnation – God put on flesh. The Son of God, the Lord of all creation lowered Himself, humbled Himself, by taking on the stature of humanity – a little lower than angels – in order to redeem man.
We were in a muddy pit. But Jesus didn’t just throw down a rope. He crawled into the pit with us to bring us out. Jesus humbled Himself, and came as a man to live out the redeemed life, a life free from sin, to earn back the righteousness we forfeited, to take back the authority we lost, by paying for our sin, reconciling our relationship with God, and to restoring man’s status as God’s good steward, and co-heir of creation.
We broke it. Jesus fixed it. We lost it. Jesus got it back. We forgot who we were made to be. Jesus came and reminded us who we are in Him. His incarnation became His exaltation. Christ’s humility became Christ’s glory.
But the question remains: if Jesus finished the work and is exalted to honor and authority, why do we still suffer? If King Jesus is ruling, and all of His enemies under His feet, why does it seem God’s enemies are winning? Why are Christians still being persecuted?
Because, right now, we live in the in-between. In the already / not yet. Yes, Jesus has come and enacted His kingdom – His rule and reign. But while that kingdom has been inaugurated, it is not yet consummated. Jesus did complete the work of salvation for us, that when we repent of our sin and trust in Him, we are truly forgiven and washed clean and instantly made new.
But our world isn’t made new yet. Right now, we are new creatures living in an old world. We are made whole in Christ, but we’re living in a world that’s still broken. There is a future glory to come, one that we are to hope in and look forward to. We are to see our current struggles in light of that glory to come.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” ~Romans 8:18–21
When Jesus returns a 2nd time, that’s when all of creation will be made whole. That’s when all sickness and disease and death will be eradicated. When the lion will lay down with the lamb. When every wrong will be made right. When He will wipe every tear from our eyes. That day is coming.
But until then, what are we to do? How can we endure hardship and heartache, how can we persevere through pain and persecution?
By keeping our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews says, “Right now, we don’t see all things made right. But what we do see is Jesus. We see Him. We don’t see the full effect of His kingdom yet, but we can see Him – We can see who Jesus is. We see what He’s done. We can see who we are in Him. And we see what He has promised to do.
Set your gaze on Jesus. See the one who was temporarily lower than the angels, but now permanently, He is exalted forever. For a little while, He suffered under the persecution of men, submitted Himself to death. But now, He has risen. He has defeated death. He has victory over the grave.
As we look to Jesus, we can be encouraged to know that right now, as Jesus is exalted in heaven, one day, he promises to bring heaven to earth. He promises that while we enjoy forgiveness of sin now, one day we will witness all the damage of sin completely erased. God’s creation restored, Jesus’ rule totally realized, and His kingdom fully consummated, bringing all things under His feet, all things reconciled, all things made new.
Then His people will be restored to the status God intended from the beginning.
“He raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” ~ Ephesians 2:6–7
That’s the already / not yet:
Already, you are part of God’s kingdom. But one day you will know perfectly the peace and joy of Christ’s rule for all eternity.
Already, we can pray and God can heal. But one day, we will have no need for miracles or healing, because we will be perfectly made whole in every way.
Already, we enjoy the presence of God and the Holy Spirit living inside us. But one day, we will see Jesus face to face. And in that moment, we will know it was worth it all.