But somewhere it is testified in these words: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him?
I. THE DESTINY FOR WHICH MAN WAS CREATED. In certain aspects of his being man seems to be an insignificant creature, and to occupy a comparatively mean position in the universe. The psalmist, who is quoted in the text, refers to this: "When I consider thy heavens,... what is man?" etc. The word translated "man" denotes the weakness and frailty of our nature; and the words translated "son of man" point to man as "formed of the dust of the ground." Yet there are aspects in which man is great; and the destiny for which God created him is a glorious one. That destiny is briefly indicated in this quotation from Psalm 8:8. It consists in:
1. A high place in the Divine regard. As evidence of this we have a twofold fact.
(1) God graciously thinks of man. "Thou art mindful of him;" "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil." God's care of man, which is manifested in the provision which he has made for him, witnesses to his thought of him. What significance it gives to our life when we reflect that the Infinite thinks upon us and cares for us! How the fact tends to exalt our nature! What a consolation and inspiration it should be to us! "I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me."
(2) God graciously visits man. "Thou visitest him." The word used indicates a kindly visitation, as of "a physician visiting the sick." His visitation preserveth our spirits. His visits bring light and refreshment and joy. "His going forth is prepared as the morning, and he shall come unto us as the rain," etc. His visits are redemptive. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people."
2. An exalted rank in creation. "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels." We have already called attention to the distinguished rank of angels in the universe, Man is only a little lower than they. "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." Man's nature is intellectual He can reason, reflect, etc. It is spiritual. The body is the vesture of that which comes from God and returns to him. "There is a spirit in man," etc. It is moral. He can understand and feel the heinousness of the morally wrong, the majesty of the morally right. Conscience speaks within him. It is religious. He can love, admire, and adore. It is capable of endless progress. If man attains unto his Divine destiny he will for ever have to say, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." Truly, "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;" "a little less than Divine."
3. A position of kingly majesty and authority in this world.
(1) Here is regal majesty. "Thou crownedst him with glory and honor." The figure of coronation is intended to set forth the royal majesty which was conferred upon man, as of a kingly crown. Amongst creatures in this world he is royal in his faculties and capacities, and in his position.
(2) Here is regal authority. "Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet," etc. The psalmist in the original passage amplifies this "all things:" "All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field," etc. There is a reference to Genesis 1:26-28," Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea," etc. In this world man is God's vicegerent. He was made by his Creator to exercise dominion over all things and all creatures here.
II. THE FAILURE OF MAN TO REALIZE HIS TRUE DESTINY. "But now we see not yet all things put under him." It is unmistakably clear that at present man's sovereignty in the world is not complete. The scepter has slipped from his grasp. His dominion is contested. He has to contend against the creatures that were put in subjection unto him. The forces of nature sometimes scorn his authority and defy his power. Man has not now complete rule over his own being. His passions are sometimes insurgent against his principles. His senses are not always subordinate to his spirit. His appetites war against his aspirations. Sin has discrowned man. He has lost his purity, therefore has he lost his power. In his present condition he is far from realizing his glorious destiny.
III. THE DIVINE MEANS FOR ENABLING MAN TO REALIZE HIS DESTINY. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels," etc.
1. The Son of God has taken upon himself human nature. "We behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus." "Who being in the form of God, deemed not his equality with God a thing to grasp at, but emptied himself, taking upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men." As man was "made a little lower than the angels," so, in becoming man, our Lord also was "made a little lower than the angels."
2. In his human nature he endured death. "That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
(1) The death of Jesus was voluntary. In his case death was not inevitable. He was not forced to die. "I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me," ere; "The Son of man came... to give his life a ransom for many.... Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all." The voluntariness was essential to the influence of his death as an atonement and as an inspiration.
(2) The death of Jesus was for the benefit of man. "Taste death for every man." In this place "for (ὐπέρ) does not mean "instead of," but "on behalf of. Alford well says, Where this ordinary meaning of ὐπέρ suffices, that of vicariousness must not be introduced. Sometimes, as e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:15, it is necessary. But here clearly not, the whole argument proceeding, not on the vicariousness of Christ's sacrifice, but on the benefits which we derive from his personal suffering for us in humanity; not on his substitution for us, but on his community with us. He died for every man." The benefits of his death, its inspiring and redeeming power, are available "for every man" - for the poorest, the obscurest, the wickedest, etc.
(3) The death of Jesus for man is to he ascribed to the kindness of God. "That he by the grace of God should taste," etc. Our salvation is to be ascribed to the unmerited kindness and love of God towards us. "The grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation unto all men." "When the kindness of God our Savior, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness," etc.; "God commendeth his own love toward us," etc.
3. On account of his endurance of death he has been raised to supreme glory and authority. "Because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor." His exaltation to this might and majesty is in consequence of his voluntary humiliation and suffering and death. "He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him," etc. This was necessary to the perfection of his redemptive work. "On the triumphant issue of his sufferings their efficacy depends."
4. He has been exalted to this supreme position as the Head of humanity. Not the angelic but the human nature has God raised to the throne. "For not unto the angels did he subject the world to come, whereof we speak." This Christian economy, this new world of redemption by the grace of God in Christ Jesus, in all its developments, is placed under our Lord. In our humanity, and as our Head and Forerunner, he is enthroned the King in the new realm of Divine grace. Humanity is crowned in him. Through him alone can we realize our glorious destiny. We must:
(1) Believe in him. Our text intimates this. "We behold him... even Jesus." This "behold" does not express an indifferent, uninterested sight of him; but the earnest look of faith, the believing contemplation of him. By faith we become one with him.
(2) Imitate him. The sacrifice of the cross leads to the splendor of the crown. The true sovereignty is reached only by the way of service. "If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him." - W.J.
What is man?Romans 8:13, 14).
(W. L. Paige Cox, M. A.)of the gospel, until he becomes a partaker of the very glory of God. The scientist holds — if he denies revelation, I mean — that man is gradually, by a process of evolution, and by the development of the species, to be so elevated that at last all that is called God shall be found in him, and that man thus becomes a God to himself and to creation. But there is little question that the answer will be that "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof"; that man is but the deputy or vicegerent of his God; and that if man can be elevated to the position to which Almighty God intended him to attain, he shall be one with God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; he shall be elevated, step by step, by the gospel power, until he shall attain to the highest glory of God: "The glory that Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one." I know no motive power that can touch man's nature when it be elevated above the self-consciousness of self-seeking, so much as the inquiry what God meant man to be, what God made man for originally, what He considers him to be now, and what are the possibilities God has put before man in and through the glorious Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. My purpose, therefore, is to inquire whether, if God's revelation be the power by which mankind can be elevated to its highest possible destiny, we are prepared to carry out that purpose, and to glorify God as our Saviour in all things, by giving up ourselves to His service, to live the devoted live that the Church should live. and to rise above the selfishness of mere personal salvation; remembering that there is a still more glorious aim than merely to be saved, and to enter personally into the glory of God, and it is this — that in her corporate, capacity, the Church should see that the individual life and personality is in one sense to be lost, and that when the individual soul forgets even its own personal salvation and its aspirations to everlasting happiness, then, and then only, does it really attain to the highest possible dignity of man; and that when the Church as a whole becomes, as she should be, greatly thoughtful on behalf of the individuals or units that one by one make up the perfection of the body of Christ which is His Church, then only will she fulfil her high destiny upon earth. Now let us proceed to the inquiry, taking our answer from God's own Word. What is man? Can anything more magnificent be conceived than the dignity wherewith God originally endowed him? Whole step by step God evolved the glories and beauties of creation, one and one only purpose was in the Master-Maker, and that was to prepare the wonderful sphere in which man as the top stone of all should be happy and blessed, and should glorify his Maker. And when that wonderful series of preparations was completed, we find that even the Almighty Maker, the great Creator, has to pause as it were, in order that He may give greater dignity and greater glory to the creation of the creature which is to be possessor of all! — and instead of that mere fiat, "Let there be" and "there was," we hear the Triune God saying, "Let Us make man in Our own image and after Our own likeness." And then "God made man," as the apostle Paul says, "the image and glory of God"! Surely from that moment we should expect the sphere of man to be great. But suddenly all the glory is swept away, and the creature for whom God had worked so long ceases to enjoy his original position; for by one act of folly he has severed himself from God, and, sin entering into the world, and death by sin, all the greatness of man would seem to be lost for ever. Nor. from that time forward, as far as physical manifestation goes, has there ever been a recovery of the creature's lost dignity; and if now (however much modern science rejects the doctrine of the fall) the inquiry rings through the vault of heaven " What is man? " the answer would appear to be that man has become a thing of naught. Yea, "ye, fly every man at his best state is altogether vanity." Man is even "like a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Yet, though this his fallen condition urges one to think with pain of the creature, let me invite you to pause before you condemn humanity after that modern fashion which is at the opposite extreme to that which speaks of man rising upwards and becoming God. Let me ask you to look at the fallen creature and see how, even after the fall, there are magnificent proofs in him of the original power of God, and that he is by no means to be condemned as a hopeless cripple. We gaze upon the ruins of a city and, from these ruins we gather is former magnificence and greatness; and it is by the style of these ruins that we judge of the city. So let me ask you to look at man for a moment, and as you see in this fallen creature powers that never were found in any other, you shall be compelled to give him your admiration, and honour him for the possibilities that lie buried beneath the surface, and which may elevate him into something almost Divine if only he can be delivered from the dominion of sin. Look, for instance, at the power or revenge as inherited in the vilest and worst of men. We find no other creature in the world who, for the mere sake of obtain-ink vengeance on its own behalf, will determine to sacrifice its own life. Look at the power of covetousness — that ambition and yearning after money and place, which the apostle describes as idolatry; and observe the wondrous powers there are in the creature who, for the mere sake of advancing himself, will slave and toil in order that he may be elevated above his fellows. Look again on that awful power of remorse, which comes over those who have fallen and sunk into despair. Can anything prove more clearly than the workings of remorse the very magnificence of the creature who is capable of such conditions and emotions? It would seem, if we watch a man in the activities of remorse, as if we were able to stand on a height within himself and so contemplate the utter misery of his own ruined, fallen slate. Surely there is no other creature in the world such as this. Therefore, as we look at man in his fall, again we are compelled to say, What is man? and to answer back, Man is not merely the wreck of his former self-though that we believe most solemnly — but a wonderful creature, a marvellous being, fitted, if only liberated from his fallen condition, to stand once more in the presence of God. At length, after four thousand years, during which God had from time to time been essaying to reveal Himself unto men, the oracle would seem to have become altogether dumb, when an angel appears to a virgin in Nazareth, and tells that a "holy thing shall be born of her which shall be called the Son of God"; and there bursts from the inspired lips of Zacharias the cry that "God hath visited and redeemed His people," and that "the Dayspring from on high hath visited us"; and the Lord Jesus, as the true "Word made flesh," appears among men. And now, what see we as the result of Jehovah deigning to appear in the flesh? First, the manifestation of what mall should be and could be if only the purpose of God was fulfilled; secondly, the manifestation of what God still determined to accomplish in man, because in Christ Jesus He would purchase humanity to Himself; and, thirdly, the manifestation of what may be done by those brought into personal contact and union with Him, being made one with the Son of God, by the faith which He requires us to exercise. We also see that in place of limitation, which had appeared to be working for so many centuries, expansion commenced, and has been wondrously proceeding from the day that the Lord Jesus returned to His Father in heaven. For when about to pass back to the glory of God, arid to be hidden from men's eyes for a little while, we hear from His lips the blessed truth that " Ye shall receive power" and " Ye shall be witnesses unto Me," and in ten days from that time a third great series of manifestations commences. No longer ,in men see the form of the Son of God, but the power of the Holy Ghost in the sons of God. Jehovah-Elohim had appeared unto man; Jehovah Jesus had appeared for man; and now, in the Church of God, and in the fulness of His power, the Jehovah Spirit would appear in man. From that day forward the work of expansion commences, and for eighteen hundred years the great power of the Lord, the Holy Ghost, has been exhibit d in this world working out the complete man (Ephesians 4:13, and Ephesians 5:25, &e.). The Second Man, who is the Lord from heaven, will not be complete until His Bride be brought unto Him, His glorious Church, wit; out spot or wrinkle or any such thing; and so each sinner that is joined to Jesus Christ by His Spirit is made a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, and we live in Him, we live by Him, and we may now live for Him, in order that hereafter we may live with Him in the manifested glory that awaits God's Son. And now when we see "the Man Christ Jesus" made perfect through suffering, and then lifted up to the throne of God that by His Spirit He may draw men into absolute unity with Himself, say, oh say, "What is man?" What is man, as we see him in the person of God's Son? What is man, as we see him in the purpose of God, which is to be carried out in soul after soul of those that are redeemed and united vitally unto the Lord Jesus Christ? And " what is man" when we consider the triumphs of this gospel? What but this truth, as the truth is in Jesus, has made man such as he has occasionally been seen? What but this could have made a Paul, a Peter, or a John? What but this could have given us an , a Wycliffe, a Huss, a Savonarola, a Luther? What but this in these latter days could give us those blessed missionaries who have stood before the world as witnesses for the power of Christ? What but this, the purpose of God, to glorify man, the purpose of God that man should have dominion in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and that all may bee-me workers together with Him, if only they he vitally united to the Man?
(H. W. Webb Peploe, M. A.)
I. MAN AS GOD MADE HIM —
1. the Divine likeness (Genesis 1:27). Our mental and moral nature is made on the same plan as God's: the Divine in miniature. Truth, love, and purity, like the principles of mathematics, are the same in us as in Him. If it were nut so, we could not know or understand Him. But since it is so, it has been possible for Him to take on Himself our nature, and that we should be one day transformed to the perfect image of His beauty.
2. Royal supremacy (Genesis 1:28). Man was intended to be God's vicegerent and representative. King in a palace stored with all to plea-e him, monarch and sovereign of all the lower orders of creation. The sun to labour for him as a very Hercules; the moon to light his nights, or lead the waters round the earth in tides, cleansing his coasts; elements of nature to be his slaves and messengers; flowers to scent his path; fruits to please his taste; birds to sing for him; fish to feed him; beasts to toil for him and carry him. Not a cringing slave, but a king, crowned with the glory of rule, and with the honour of universal supremacy. Only a little lower than angels, because they are not, like him, entangled with flesh and blood. This is man as God made him to be.
II. MAN AS SIN HAS MADE HIM (Ver. 8). — His crown is rolled in the dust, his honour tarnished. His sovereignty is strongly disputed by the lower orders of creation. If trees nourish him, it is after strenuous care, anal they often disappoint. If the earth supplies him with food, it is in tardy response to exhausting toil. If the beasts serve him, it is because they have been laboriously tamed and trained, whilst vast numbers roam the forest glades, setting him at defiance. If he catch the fish of the sea, or the bird of the air, he must wait long in cunning concealment. Some traces of the old lordship are still apparent in the terror which the sound of the human voice and the glance of the eye side inspire into the lower orders, in the feats of lion-tamer or snake-charmer. But for the most part anarchy and rebellion have laid waste his fair realm. So degraded has man become that he has bowed before the objects that he was to command, and has prostrated his royal form in shrines dedicated to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.
III. MAN AS CHRIST CAN MAKE HIM (Ver. 9). — "What help is that? " cries an objector;" "of course He is crowned with glory and honour, since He is the Son of God." But, notice, the glory and honour mentioned here are altogether different from the glory of Hebrews 1:3. That was the incommunicable glory of His Deity. This is is the acquired glory of His humanity.
1. "We behold Him." — Behold Him, Christian. The wreaths of empire are on His brow. The keys of death and Hades swing at His girdle. The mysterious living creatures, representatives of creation, attest that He is worthy. All things in heaven, and earth, and under the earth, and in the seas worship Him; so do the bands of angels, beneath whom He stooped for a little season, on our behalf.
2. And as He is, we too shall be. He is there as the type and representative of redeemed men. We are linked with Him in indissoluble union. Through Him we shall get back our lost empire. We to, shall be crowned with glory and honour. The day is not far distant when we shall sit at His side; joint heirs in His empire; comrades in His glory, as we have been comrades in His sorrows; beneath our feet all things visible and invisible, thrones and principalities and powers; whilst above us shall be the unclouded empyrean of our Father's love, for ever and for ever. Oh, destiny of surpassing bliss! Oh, rapture of saintly hearts! Oh, miracle of Divine Omnipotence!
(F. B. Meyer, B. J.)1. God's special care of man, and His singular love towards him.
2. The same manifested in a most glorious manner, in the humiliation and exaltation of Christ.
3. The admiration, or rather amazement at such a stupendous manifestation of such stupendous love. All the works of God are in themselves excellent and wonderful, but the work of redemption by Christ is matter of greatest wonder and astonishment even to the angels.
(W. Jones, D. D.)
(Dr. Kane's Arctic Explorations.)
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