Hebrews 2:6–8 But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? 7 You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor 8 and put everything under their feet.”
But there is a place where someone has testified: what is mankind that you are mindful of him?
Such a profound question with such a seemingly flippant introduction.
I mean seriously, writer to the Hebrews, that’s the best you’ve got? Somewhere someone once said. Seriously? You can’t do any better than that? Why so off-the-cuff with your introduction? Why so anti-intellectual that you don’t bother citing your sources?
What do you think this writer’s doing? Do you think he’s trying to be clearly unacademic to show us how far this is from some intellectual exercise? That he wants us realizing that the truth this question tries to get at so far surpasses every cognitive ability that he won’t touch scholarship with a ten-foot-pole? Or do you think it’s because the citation was so widely known? That everybody knew it because it was at the front of everybody’s ancient hymnal – that he’s quoting here Psalm 8?
Or do you think it’s actually a literary tactic? That by being so flippant with the introduction that we’d be forced in our minds to run even quicker to the citation; to remember where the quote first came to life; to think back to its original source, Psalm 8? And do you think he did that so we’d reconsider what Psalm 8 is about – God’s heavens? Do you think he wants us pondering how God’s fingers fashioned everything up there? Do you think he wants us contemplating again how God didn’t use some tool to shape the moon and each of the stars? That the psalm says it was his fingers; that he personally created and cared for and set into orbit each star and each planet; that he wants us to awe at God’s might that gathered gravitational pull and mustered gaseous fires into tight compact looking lights called stars? Do you think he wants us to thrill at God’s power and God’s wisdom that set worlds spinning each on their own axis and sends moons making their way around their own planets?
Do you think part of what he meant when he asked, “What is mankind that you are mindful of him?” Or do you think it was something more?
Do you think it’s more than wanting us to think about God’s powerful fingers that set those heavenly bodies in place? Do you think it’s also that he wants us to intellectually get blown out of the water as we stare up into the sky and see a septillion stars there – each carefully made with divine fingers? Do you think that that’s it? Do you think he knew that we’d see our complete inability to grasp the depth of space and the sheer number of the stars? Do you think he wants us to stop everything and look up like children into the twinkling of the night sky and just get a sense of our own insignificance against its expanse? Do you think he wants us to be swallowed up with its immensity, its depth, its magnitude and its size so that we begin to see how just how small, just how micro, just how little we are?
Do you think that that’s it?
Or do you think he’s after something altogether different? Do you think he’s emphasizing not the expanse of the sky or the magnitude of the stars and our smallness in comparison, but really that we were made just a little lower than the angels; that we were crowned with glory and honor and that everything was put under our feet; that he’s highlighting for us how far we’ve fallen from that; that we’ve harnessed the energy of the atom not first to power our world, but first to destroy each other; that we’ve used our understanding of biology and human reproduction not only to bless the youngest of our race, but also to ensure that some of them won’t ever see the light of day; that he gave us spouses to love and nurture and protect and we end up being the ones sometimes who damage them the most. Do you think he wants us to think through all of our very real relational failures and misguided planetary priorities? Do you think he wanted us to see how far we’ve fallen from the glory and the power and the perfection that God intended us to have?
Do you think that that’s why he asked, “What is mankind that you are mindful of him?”
Or do you think it’s a combination of all of the above? Do you think he thought about those stars and was in awe of God’s care and power? Do you think he thought about the multitude of them and sensed his own insignificance? Do you think he thought about the crown of creation responsibility that he also threw off and shrunk down when he thought of it? That he felt so small not just against the night sky, but especially against the night of his own sin; that he felt microscopic not only under the hugeness of God, but also also under the hugeness of his shirked responsibilities toward that God?
Or do you think it was something more?
That he knew the immensity of space and the multitude of the stars and the hugeness of his own spiritual inadequacy. And, yet, he still didn’t shrink away. That the writer lifted up his voice. That he called out to God with joy. That he said how majestic is your name in all the earth. Because once again he saw God’s fingers. This time not shaping the stars in the distant galaxies. This time he saw God’s fingers up close and infantile wrapped up around his mother’s forefinger. And he must’ve thought about how those fingers would grow and work and become God’s hands. Hands that this time wouldn’t be off lovingly setting moons into orbit, but this time would be off being pierced through with the sharp nails of human sin. Because he was to grow up and be the one who wouldn’t throw off his crown of creation responsibility. He would wear it for us ringed with thorns though it was.
Do you that’s why he asked, “What is mankind that you are mindful of him?”
Or do you think he asked it simply so that we’d re-ask the question too? And that by the asking of the question we’d fumble around for its answer and in that fumbling the Spirit would do his great faith building work; that when we ask, “What is mankind that you are mindful of him?” we come to see that the answer is so ellusive and high that we’re actually never supposed to answer it. We’re supposed to celebrate that the fact we can ask it at all. That just as God mindfully set the stars in their orbit, God was mindful of us too – people who had willfully left theirs. That he was so mindful of us that he entered our orbit, our hay, and our manger; and took up sin, our death, our thrown down creation and our lost lives. So that we could all reenter his orbit, his throne room, his righteousness, wear his crown, and find our eternal lives in him.
That he asked “What is man that you are mindful of him?” just to deepen us in the fact that he was and that we’d see in Jesus’ manger just how mindful he was. And there at the manger find ourselves not melting away from the immensity of God and and sensing our own insignificance amongst the rest of his creation, but drawn to the heights of faith only beginning to see how significant we are to that huge God. That he was mindful of you. And even as he fell asleep in that pile of prickly hay that Christmas night he slept tight. Mindful even in his dreams of you. That’s what he dreamed of. That’s why he had come. For your forgiveness. For your eternity. For your salvation. So that you could forever ask, “What am I that you are mindful of me?” Not with any intent of ever answering the question, but filled with perfect and holy awe that you could ask it at all. Merry Christmas, Peace family. Amen.