Becoming so much greater than the angels, as much as he has inherited a name superior to theirs.
Becoming… What does it mean for Jesus to “become so much greater than the angels…”? Is Jesus not God? Is he not already greater than the angels? Has he not always been greater than the angels? Hasn’t his name always been superior to that of angels? While we know the answers to these questions from our study of the Bible as a whole, we need to ask what the writer of Hebrews is doing here, especially since there have been some who misconstrued these verses to support the idea of Jesus as one who was not divine in all senses until after the resurrection.
So what does the writer mean when he is speaking in these terms? To begin with, always remember the broader context of the passage and of the book, what is the writer seeking to communicate. For the book of Hebrews, one prevalent theme is that of Jesus being better than any other angel or god and of his covenant being better than the old covenant. So right away, you find Jesus being spoken of in contrast to the angelic beings—beings that some people even today are want to worship.
Secondly, this introduction sets up a picture of God’s work in redemptive history, beginning with the creation and coming to close at the resurrection of our Lord. This is important in terms of our understanding of the role of our Lord. Prior to the coming of the Lord, scripture speaks clearly and freely about the coming Messiah who will deliver his people from the bonds of death and destroy the serpent. Indeed, there is also a clear sense that with the coming of the Messiah, the old will pass away to make space for the new. Yet, at the same time, the fullness of the awesome work of the Godman was yet a mystery. It was a mystery, that is, until our Lord lived out that redemptive work before the eyes of a watching (and largely doubting) people. And in the completed work, now that we understand the fullness of what Christ came and did, in our hearts, Christ has become the focus of our adoration and hope. We now see the fullness of his redemptive work and proclaim the name of Jesus as the name above all other names and as Lord and Master over our lives. Thus, this change that the writer of Hebrews is speaking of is not a change in Jesus’ essential being, but a redemptive-historical change from the perspective of man gazing in awe at the completed work of Christ.
Beloved, and indeed, in our hearts, Jesus is elevated as one greater than angelic beings and as one who is the very hope and joy of our days. He is our master, our savior, and our companion—a friend in troubled times, a rock of defense in times of trial or persecution, and God’s hand of rebuke in times of sin. He is due infinite glory and then infinite glory again! He is to be the center of our thoughts, our dreams, and our desires. He is the one who is great and above all created things. Yet, how often we place created things before our eyes. How often we come to a point in our lives when we exalt other things more boldly or more highly than Christ. Loved ones, repent of this sin, for it is a sin, and flee to Christ for forgiveness. For his name is infinitely higher and greater than that of even the most mighty creatures within the creation—the angels themselves. Friends, the angels too, fall on their faces in worship before Christ, why do we think anything else might be able to be the object of our adoration?
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.