Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Son of Man

Part 3 of A Thrill of Hope

Text: Psalm 8; Hebrews 2:9



When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Ps. 8:3-4).


Star Gazing

I have preached on Psalm 8 in the past—but never at Christmastime. The author of Hebrews makes a connection between Psalm 8 and the coming of the Christ into the world. Of course, we who are Christians believe that the Christ (i.e., the Messiah) is Jesus—Jesus Christ.

Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise written by David. In the psalm, David mentions looking up at the stars. In his younger days, David was a shepherd. And I’m sure there were many nights when David would lie on his back and gaze at the stars.

Today we know much more about the stars than David ever did. How many stars do you think there are? There are many more stars that the naked eye can see. In our galaxy alone, there are about 400 billion stars. And according to one recent estimate, there are at least 2 trillion galaxies.

We live in an immense universe. It’s not surprising that David begins and end Psalm 8 the same way: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (vv. 1a, 9).


God's Awesomeness and Our Insignificance

Verse 1 goes on to say, “You have set your glory above the heavens” (v. 1b). Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The apostle Paul writes, “[God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). The heavens are glorious, but God is more glorious.

Listen to Isaiah 40:25-26: “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and see: who created these [the stars]? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.”

David writes, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (vv. 3-4). God is big; we are little. We are nothing in comparison to God.

Psalm 8 was written to encourage God’s people to praise God. Why should we praise God? Here’s one reason: We are so little, but God has done big things for us! The God who made the stars is the same God who cares about us! But how much does God care about us?


We See Jesus

Psalm 8:5 says, “You have made him [the son of man] a little lower than the heavenly beings [i.e., the angels].” In Hebrews 2, the author quotes Psalm 8. He sees “the son of man” as the Son of Man: “We see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus” (v. 9). In the Gospels, Jesus often refers to himself as “the Son of Man.” What does this title mean?

In Daniel 7, the prophet Daniel describes a vision in which he sees “one like a son of man” (v. 13). In other words, he sees a person who looks like a man. But the “one like a son of man” is obviously more than just a man. In Daniel’s vision, the “one like a son of man” comes “with the clouds of heaven.” In the OT, God is the one who rides on the clouds. “[The LORD] makes the clouds his chariot” (Ps. 104:3). “Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud” (Isa. 19:1). “The clouds are the dust of [the LORD’s] feet” (Nah. 1:3).

When Jesus questioned by Caiaphas the high priest regarding his true identity, Jesus declares, “From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). Jesus was saying, “I am the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision!” What was the high priest’s reaction? He accuses Jesus of blasphemy (v. 65). By calling himself the Son of Man, Jesus was claiming to be both man (“one like a son of man”) and God (“with the clouds of heaven”).

“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” (Heb. 2:9). Ponder what this means! Think about who that baby lying in a manger really was! Think about God's humility and love! And then ponder our own lack of humility and love.

The God-man died for us! That’s how much God cares about us!