Crown Him with Many Crowns
A sermon based on Hebrews 2:7,9
Sunday, December 15, 2013 – Advent 3
From Everlasting to Everlasting – Children's Christmas Program
You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor. . . We see Jesus, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
I. Lower Than the Angels to Be Crowned with Thorns
For fun, I've been reading a book on the origin of words, called, oddly enough, "Word Origins." (And, yes, I do know, that I'm a big nerd for reading such a book "for fun." Thanks.) But I find the book very interesting and I'm learning a lot. For example, I've learned that the word naughty which means "to misbehave" today is from the Old English "No wit"-y. It was used to describe someone acting as if they had no wits, as if there were nothing (naught) in their head. I've also learned that the word crouch literally means to "make a hook." When you bend your body down you take on the shape of a hook. That's why crouch and crochet sound so similar. They're from the same root.
And I've learned that the words humble and humility come from the Latin word, humus (pronounced HYOO-mus). That's the Latin word for compost, soil, or dirt. So one who is humble is literally one who is near the dirt, one who is grounded, one who is close to the earth.
Jesus humbled himself. He literally came close to the earth. That's what we celebrate this and every Christmas season. We celebrate how Jesus left the paradise of heaven, to become an earth-bound human. He became lower than the angels who got to stay in heaven, who filled the skies, when he was quite literally grounded. He became lower than the angels as he gave up the full use of his divine power to walk the dirty, dusty roads as he humbled himself near the dirt.
But why'd he do it? Would you ever volunteer to give up the full use of your humanity to become a salmon? You'd have no TV or computer, no cell phone or car or truck, no arms or legs for that matter! Who in their right mind would do that?
Why would God give up the full use of his divinity to become a human? He humbled himself and became a man because he had a dirty job to do. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary in order to suffer. He became human so he could be crowned… with thorns… so he could be taunted and tortured, battered and bruised. He became a man because immortal God cannot die, and he had to die. Talk about humble! Close to the earth? He was buried under it! You can't get more humble than that!
And why did he have to die? You know the answer: to pay for our sins. The author to the Hebrews put it this way: "He suffered death… by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."
Ever find a present under the Christmas tree with no label on it? You're left wondering who is this gift for? Well God wanted to leave no room for doubt who his Christmas gift was for. He has it clearly labeled, "For: Everyone!"
Martin Luther, the great church reformer from whom we Lutherans take our name, famously said that if God should have written that he paid for the sins of Martin Luther, he would assume that God surely must have meant some other "Martin Luther." But that's not what had has written. Jesus said, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son." And God wrote, "By the grace of God [Jesus] [tasted] death for everyone." This gift is not just for some, but for all. That means that this gift is for you and me.
By Jesus humility and by his taking on the dirty job of taking every one of our dirty sins on himself… by his crown of thorns and by all that it entailed… by his being buried, not just in the dirt, but under a mountain of our guilt, and by the wrath of God the father… you, and I, and everyone's sins have been paid for! Let there be no doubt in your mind! Your sins are forgiven!
His suffering brings us glory! His humility in coming down to earth, lifts us up to heaven! His crown of thorns, wins for us a crown of life! We have the victor's crown; the equivalent of the gold medal! We have heaven itself! And this is, by far, the best present that we could ever receive. And it's ours "by the grace of God." So now, we offer our hearty and heartfelt thanks to Jesus for humbling himself lower than the angels to be crowned with thorns. Now we crown him with glory because he suffered such a death for us…
II. Crowned with Glory and Honor Because He Suffered Death
Now, Hebrews 2:7 is a quote of Psalm 8:5. And the NIV translates it, "You made him a little lower than the angels." But a more literal translation of both the Hebrew and the Greek would be, "You made him lower than the angels—a little." You see, it could mean he was a little bit lower than the angels. Or, it could mean he was lower than the angels for a little bit or a for little while. I prefer the latter because we know that Jesus didn't stay humble.
He didn't stay buried in the dirt. His humility ended when he rose from the dead. He didn't stay grounded. Quite literally, he didn't stay "close to the earth" when he ascended into heaven to sit at God's right hand. He was crowned with glory by God the Father who put everything under his feet. (v.9)
And one day soon, "at the name of Jesus every knee [will] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10-11)
So let's crown him with glory right now! Let's sing our praises to him every week with the same enthusiasm with which the children sing this morning. Let's worship him often… and not just at church! Let's live our lives every day in such a way that says, "Thank You!" to Jesus for his humble sacrifice for us!
Give generously, not just to your friends, but to those in need, not just at Christmas, but all year round! Resist your natural urge to be selfish and only care about your needs and wants. Fight that temptation and humble yourself to serve others. Because in doing these things, you really give to Jesus. You really serve him. That's the only thing on his wish list, the only thing he asks for from us: that we use the gifts he's given to us to serve others in love to express our gratitude for his service to us.
This is our gift to him for Christmas—that is, this is our gift to him in thanks for his gift to us, of humbling himself at Christmas to become a little lower than the angels, that he might be crowned with thorns, to suffer and die, to win forgiveness for all of our sins, that we might get a crown of glory. So we crown him, "with glory and honor because he suffered death… [because he] [tasted] death for everyone."
He was humbled for a little while to be crowned with thorns. But he was crowned with glory and honor for the victory he won. He crowned us with glory and honor by the victory he won for us. Now we treat him as our king and give him glory and honor in all we do, until we join him in his glory forever. May God help us to do this, this Christmas season, and always. In Jesus' name, dear friends, amen.