Car manufacturers like to compare their cars to their competition. They will compare the price, the warranty, the size, the mileage, the horsepower, and the extras that are included. Of course, they only compare things that make them look better.
If you wanted to buy a new TV you could spend hours comparing prices and features at stores like Circuit City, American and Best Buy. You can compare brands like RCA and Toshiba, Motorola and Philco, Sony, Samsung and Hitachi. To confuse things even more you can compare features like whether or not the set is HD ready, or a flat screen model, or digital, or plasma or rear projector. You would finally probably just give up, stop asking questions and buy the one that looks good.
Let’s make some comparisons today. But not about cars or TVs. Let’s compare Jesus. Let’s compare Jesus to angels, humans and the Devil. As we do that we will find this about Jesus: He is I. COMPARED TO ANGELS - LOWER, II. COMPARED TO HUMANS - EQUAL, III. COMPARED TO THE DEVIL - SUPERIOR.
I. The first thing that we find is that COMPARED TO ANGELS, JESUS IS LOWER. Here is what the writer of Hebrews reports: “But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." These words are a quotation from Psalm 8. In order of greatness and glory, God is above everything, angels are beneath God, and humans are below the angels. In regard to man you want to note that man was made only a little lower than the angels. That is true because when Adam and Eve were created they were made in God's image and likeness. They were pure and holy creatures without any taint of sin. In that regard they were only a little lower than the angels. In purity they were equal, but in wisdom and power they were lower. God put man in such a high position that he was over all creation and was told: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Even though man was placed in such an exalted position the writer of Hebrews observes: “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” Instead of man being in control of everything we often see man looking helplessly weak. An earthquake causes people to run for higher ground for fear that a tidal wave would wipe them off the face of the world. Man is so helpless and not in control. The after affects of Hurricanes and Tsunamis are being felt around the world. Even with advance warning, the tidal waves and hurricanes bring damage and devastation unheard of. Nature had been subject to man, if you can imagine that.
What has happened? Why is man unable to subdue the earth as God asked him to do? The answer is so simple and direct. Sin. The introduction of sin into the world through the disobedience of the first people has corrupted the world in which we live and sin has invaded the hearts of everyone living on this earth. Man, the sinner, has sunk way below the level of the angels and is no longer just a little lower than the angels.
But what about Jesus? “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Figure this one out. Here is Jesus who is God himself. He is above everything, even the angels. He sits in glory in heaven. But then he humbles himself and lowers himself to come down to this earth. By taking upon himself humanity, Jesus allows himself to be put in the position of being a little lower than the angels. Note carefully that Jesus is in the position of being only a little lower than the angels. The reason for that is because Jesus has no sin. He is like Adam and Eve were first. When they were without sin they were only a little lower than the angels, too.
This little story appeared in Guideposts in 1988. A lady wrote: In the fourth year of his layoff from his job, Dad gave Mom a dishwasher for Christmas. You have to understand the magnitude of the gift: Our old house had its original wiring and plumbing, and neither could handle the required installation. There was no spot in the small kitchen for such a large appliance. And we hadn't even been able to meet the mortgage interest payments for over six months.
But Dad hated the thought of washing dishes; he would rather do anything else. And Mom had undergone major surgery that spring, a radical mastectomy for breast cancer, and found it difficult to do any work requiring the use of her arms.
No large box appeared, no new plumbing or wiring was installed, no remodeling of the kitchen occurred. Rather, a small note appeared on a branch of the Christmas tree, handwritten by Dad: "For one year I will wash all of the dirty dishes in this household. Every one." Jesus did the same thing by coming down to this filthy earth and lowering himself below the angels and taking upon himself human flesh and blood. As Jesus dies he took upon himself our sins, every one of them. Compared to angels Jesus is a little lower in his humanity.
II. The second comparison we want to make with Jesus is this: COMPARED TO HUMANS - JESUS IS EQUAL. Here is what the Book of Hebrews says: “Both 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. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises."
Here is a marvelous thing. Jesus who is God himself, and Jesus who allowed himself to be made a little lower than the angels, still is willing to put himself on equal footing with humans and calls us his brothers. In his humanity he became equal to us for we are told: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity.”
The Apostle Paul traces this concept so beautifully in the 2nd chapter of Philippians when he says of Jesus: “(He) made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death‑‑ even death on a cross!” Not only did Jesus humble himself by taking upon himself human flesh and blood, but he also lived among humans as the most humble of men. He lived like a servant and even stooped to wash the dirty, smelly feet of his disciples when none of them were willing to do that for each other. But the ultimate service was when Christ humbled himself to the power of death, not just a painless death, but rather the torturous death of the cross.
Robert E. Speer says that years ago he was being entertained by the president of a small college in the South. The school had limited guest facilities, so the head of the institution offered him his apartment. "I woke up early the next morning," said Speer, "when I heard someone tiptoe into the room. I lay there quietly with my eyes open just a slit to see who it was. To my surprise the president of the college walked in, picked up my dirty boots, and walked out. I got out of bed, opened the door a crack, and watched him take them to an adjoining hallway. Then he got down on the floor and began polishing them. I could have cried at the sight. His hospitality and thoughtfulness showed me what a great man he really was. Some years after that he rose to national prominence. Because of his complete humility of spirit, God elevated him to a higher position. That is so much like Christ who humbled himself and died our death. Instead of putting himself above us, he made himself our brother.
Lest we get the wrong impression, let’s be reminded that the reason why we are God's sons and daughters. The Bible says: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” If we are sons and daughters of God then we are also brothers and sisters of Christ. In that sense we are equal with Jesus and will share with him the joy of heaven that he has won for us.
III. The final thought we need to pursue as we compare Jesus is to compare him to the Devil. When we do so we will find that COMPARED TO THE DEVIL - JESUS IS SUPERIOR. That truth comes through with these words from Hebrews: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death‑‑that is, the devil‑‑ and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Now we see the real reason why Jesus lowered himself below the angels and became our brother in our humanity. Here is the reason: “He shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death -- that is, the devil.” The devil was at one time a good, holy and mighty angel. Many believe he was as high-ranking an angel as Michael the Archangel. When Satan rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven, he turned his anger against mankind. In his success he brought death to the world and death to all in hell. To overcome the prince of darkness it took someone more powerful than the Devil himself. Jesus was that one. Saddam Hussein had been hanged, not for the crimes of others, but for his own crimes. Jesus was the opposite. He was hanged for the sins of others, not for his own sins.
To overcome the power of death, Christ has to die. The reason for that goes back to the penalty that God had set for sin - death. As the Bible puts it: “The wages of sin is death.” In Jesus’ ministry it was obvious that Jesus was mightier than the Devil. When Jesus commanded devils to leave people, they had no choice but to leave because they were no match for Jesus. When Jesus rose from the dead he marched right through hell, like an army general marching through a captured capital city, to proclaim his victory and the Devil could do nothing to stop him. Jesus had total superiority over the Devil because he also was God, and because his work of salvation was done perferctly.
Martin Luther had a dream in which he stood on the day of judgment before God himself--and Satan was there to accuse him. When Satan opened his books full of accusations, he pointed to transgression after transgression of which Luther was guilty. As the proceedings went on, Luther's heart sunk in despair. Then he remembered the cross of Christ--and turning upon Satan, he said, "There is one entry which you have not made, Satan."
The Devil retorted, "What is that?" And Luther answered, "It is this--the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sins."
Ever have a dream where you die and were whisked off to hell. I’ve had a couple of people tell me they’ve had this dream. That will wake a person up. Remember Luther’s experience and say, “If that is you, Satan. Forget it. I believe in Jesus and I’m going to heaven.” And go back to sleep.
That message makes us strong before the Devil. He has no answer for that one. In fact the Bible tells us, “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” Remember that Jesus is superior to the Devil and by his power we are superior too.