Hebrews 2 starts with a conclusion—challenging its readers to anchor their lives in the glorious, eternity-altering news about Jesus (v. 1-4). After this, the writer picks up his earlier thread concerning Jesus and angels. I think he’s anticipating some objections in response to what he previously wrote concerning Christ’ superiority to the angels (1:5-14). There would be some things his readers would probably have trouble wrapping their minds around—like how could someone who was human (flesh) be superior to angels (spirit)? More to the point, how could someone who experienced suffering and death be superior to creatures who by their very nature are immortal (Luke 20:34-36)? Finally, doesn’t it say in the Scripture that man was made “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5)? Angels are a combination of such impenetrable mystery and majesty; it would be hard for them to imagine how someone who was human could transcend them.
These things (probably) aren’t issues to us, but they were as important to this first century audience as our twenty-first century discussions about the Bible and slavery, violence in the Old Testament, or some of the harsher things said in Psalms. And speaking of Psalms, he interestingly segues into Psalm 8 to introduce his rebuttal to the lower-than-the-angels objection. He asks if the angels (through whom the law came 2:2) have ever been promised the dominion that man is given (v. 6-8). Although much of this status was lost due to his sin (Genesis 3:7ff), it doesn’t alter the truth that man, rather than angels, was created for this destiny.
But his larger point is about Jesus and how by becoming human and modeling the life that God intended for man to live (living in complete harmony and full submission), he recaptured the dominion man lost in the fall. His entering humanity then was in complete accord with God’s creative intent for man and the universe—it would be a strange conclusion indeed that interpreted such a mission as disqualifying Him from being the Son of God. As the writer will show, these things confirm Him as not only our high priest, but the Messiah. Far from death excluding Him from Sonship, He is crowned with glory and honor precisely because He suffers death (Hebrews 2:9).
What seemed like a contradiction was in reality a glorious paradox. The Son took on humanity that His experience might match ours, that He might know temptation, suffering, and death. These things made Him “perfect” (v. 10), in terms of being our sympathetic high priest (4:15). He understands us intimately and ultimately.
There’s a well-worn story of the little boy who can’t fall asleep because he’s scared of the dark. His calls out to his father who reassures him that there is nothing to be afraid of—God is with him. A few minutes pass and he calls out again, voicing the same concern. “It’s okay,” his dad says, “and remember how I told you that God is with you?” The small voice bleats back, “I do. But right now, I need someone with some skin on!”
That’s what God gave is in Jesus.