If the previous study helped us think about the divinity of Jesus, this passage focuses our thoughts more on the humanity of Christ, but still it is the glory of Jesus, his supremacy and perfection that we are helped to see.
Verse 5 is a little surprising – it is not immediately obvious that the writer has been speaking of “the world to come”. I wouldn’t dwell on it, but I think the point is that Christ’s enthronement and exaltation has inaugurated the new creation, a new reality, over which he is supreme. The quotation from Psalm 8 speaks of the extraordinary and unique honour God gave to men and women at creation (cf Gen.1:26-28). But as v.8 comments, at present that is not what we see, God’s original design plan at creation seems to have been frustrated by the Fall. Looking around we don’t see the truth of Psalm 8, but now in Jesus we at last do see God’s purpose for humanity realised. For a little while he was as we are (and so a little lower than the angels), but now he is all that humanity was meant to be – “crowned with glory and honour”, the perfect man.
And because of what he has done for us in his death, we too will one day be the people we were meant to be. His death for us (v.9b) means that we will share in his glory (v.10a). Genesis 1 and Psalm 8 are not forgotten dreams but a present reality, true now in Jesus, and in Him we see our destiny too.
Throughout these verses it is stressed that in order that we might one day be as he is, he first had to become as we are. Our fallen humanity is marked by death, something we cannot escape and which grips us in fear, and therefore to enable us to be the people God intended us to be, Jesus needed to taste death for us. Such identification with us in our humanity meant humiliation for Jesus, but wonderfully he was happy to identify with us (to become “of the same family”, sharing “flesh and blood”), despite the suffering that entailed – suffering which climaxed in death. Jesus was made “perfect through suffering”, not in the sense of being morally improved, but in terms of being perfectly fitted, qualified, to become our Saviour, for which he needed to have become like us.
His role as Saviour is described in terms of being our pioneer (which is how “author” could be translated in v.10) and our priest. As our pioneer, he faced death for us and disarmed and defeated the one who holds the power of death (Satan). As our high priest he faced an even greater threat standing against us – the wrath of God (see NIV footnote on v.17). To be the perfect priest he had to become “like his brothers in every way”, in particular knowing exactly what it is to be tempted. He proved his faithfulness by obeying all the way to the cross, but that experience of suffering and testing means he is also sympathetic and merciful. He is truly “able to help” us as we face trials and battle with sin.
There may well not be time to unravel these verses properly (they are not straightforward), but do at least notice the application being made in v.1 and v.6. Calling Jesus “apostle and high priest” sums up much of the opening two chapters: as apostle, Jesus is the one who represents God, brings God’s word. Priest refers more to his work. Moses too had a role of apostle and prophet, but the point is made that Jesus is as far superior to Moses as a son to a servant. So “fix your thoughts” on him, and hold firmly to “the heavenly calling … the hope of which we boast”, which Jesus has made possible.