What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
Lower than Angels
David asks this question after marveling at God’s majesty—His glory above the heavens and his handiwork set in the skies. Given the magnitude of these achievements, it baffles David that the Creator even pays attention to man, or cares for him. “You made him a little lower than the angels,” he observes, “and crowned him with glory and honor.” He’s dumbfounded that God entrusts man with creation. “You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet” (v6). It is a mystery why God endowed us with the ability to master His domain. Yet the answer to why God cares for us surfaces in the mystery. The wellbeing of the world depends directly on our wellbeing. Had God given us the skill and intellect to preserve His world and left us on our own, the splendor He spoke into existence would have fallen to ruin. He’s mindful of us because He’s concerned about the totality of creation.
A Family Matter
The author of Hebrews reads Psalm 8, however, and sees more than patronage. He/she applies the “lower than the angels” status to Jesus, Who voluntarily became less than beings created solely for His worship and service. In other words, He honored us with His physical presence by disavowing honor due Him as God. When reading Psalm 8.4 on this side of Bethlehem and looking at the Baby Jesus, we should tremble. How could we possibly merit the selfless compassion and sacrifice that compelled the Most High God to reach so low? Why would we ever question the depth and breadth of His care for us?
“The one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers,” Hebrews 2.11 tells us. Surely a plethora of alternatives existed to Christ’s becoming one of us to save all of us. Yet Hebrews explains why this was His method of choice. “He had to be made like his brothers in every way,” verse 17 says, to become a “faithful high priest” and atone for our sins. It wasn’t a task for angels or heavenly emissaries. It was a family matter. By willingly joining the family of man, Jesus willed our right to join the family of God. In this light, David’s explanation falls short. God’s care for us goes beyond preservation; its aim is restoration.
Because Jesus suffered temptation, verse 18 reasons, “He is able to help those who are being tempted.” For many of us, Christmas loses its luster to feelings of inadequacy, rejection, loneliness, and other negative emotions that mar its meaning. We deflect subtle digs about how we throw the family portrait off-kilter. We endure prying questions about our personal lives. We try to overcompensate for perceived deficits that don’t exist. In our attempts to escape embarrassment with our dignity intact, though, let’s look away from mishaps with others to celebrate the birth of our Brother. He lowered Himself to join the family. He permitted Himself to suffer temptation in order to help us when we’re tempted. If everyone around the tree ignores the reality of who you are, He’s mindful of you. If no one at the table thinks you deserve concern or respect, He cares for you. That’s what Christmas means. That’s what your celebration is about.
Christ lowered Himself to become our Brother. If no one else in our family is concerned, He's mindful and He cares for us.
(Tomorrow: Let’s Go!)