There is a line in the Letter to the Hebrews which reads:
You made [Jesus] for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet.” In “subjecting” all things (to him), he left nothing not “subject to him.” Yet at present we do not see “all things subject to him,” but we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” because he suffered death, (Heb 2:7-9)
Now this text is clear about two things. First, All things are subject to Jesus. Second, we do not presently see or experience that all things are subject to him. Why is this? Fundamentally it is because we experience grave injustice in this world and it seems to us that wickedness and evil are often triumphant. Our sufferings too can discourage us that God has any power at all. Such things do not seem to us to be subject to Christ. Yet the text is clear that all things are under his feet even if it does not seem so.
How can we claim that Christ is triumphant over all when things so often seem the opposite?
Come with me to the cross. The text says we DO see Jesus crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death. So, here we are at the foot of the cross. And what do we see? With our earthly eyes we see complete defeat, a total failure. Jesus who cured the sick, walked on water, and even raised the dead, is now himself dead on a cross. Our fleshly eyes see only failure, and a cruel joke. Can He who saved others not save himself? Satan has won; end of story.
Or is it? You know it is not the end of the story, for on Sunday he rose. So he did defeat Satan. But how? ….Through weakness….. Through death. Even in his “weakness” God is stronger than Satan’s mightiest power. And hence, though we look about this world and see God’s “weakness” we need to understand that even in his weakness he is defeating Satan. Indeed, his greatest works have emerged from the “weakness” of his Son. An old song, “El Shaddai” says,
- Through the years you made it clear,
- that the time of Christ was near,
- But couldn’t see what Messiah ought to be.
- And Though your word contained the plan,
- they just would not understand,
- Your most awesome work was done,
- through the frailty of your son.
We really Don’t know what we are talking about – So the text from Hebrews makes it clear that all things are subject to him even though our earthly, eyes do not (will not) see it. Hence you and I may complain of God’s apparent weakness and question the apparent triumph of evil. But we really don’t know what we are talking about. It’s like standing at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday and proclaming total failure. If we were there and did so we would really have no idea what we were saying. Even as we were saying it, the supposedly dead Jesus was down among the dead in Sheol awaking them and turning out the devil’s trophy room. While the Devil was running victory laps around the cross Jesus was robbing him blind of all his “trophies” (the dead) and preaparing to open heaven for them who had long awaited him. All things are subject to Christ even if they don’t appear so.
And for us who experience our own weakness, here too we know not what we say unless the wisdom of the Cross is applied to it. St. Paul said, For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:10). How are we strong? We are strong because in our weakness we learn to depend on God who is our true strength. Our greatest enemy is pride. Only our weakness can strip us of this pride so that God can use us and save us. At age forty, Moses was strong, in the prime of his life, educated, passionate and powerful. But he was too strong and in his pride he murdered a man. God couldn’t use him and so caused him to flee to the desert for purifcation. It took forty years. At age 80 Moses was stooped, leaned on a staff and stammered. Now he was weak enough for God to use him. At age 80, God said to Moses, “Go down Moses, tell Pharaoh to let my people go.” For when I am weak, then I am strong for then the power of God rests on me.
I like you have my crosses and suffering. A spritual director once told me, “Thank God you’ve got them. Otherwise you’d be too proud to be saved and be heading right to hell. And even on your way God couldn’t use you.” Yes, even our weakness is subject to Christ and used mightily by him.
The Cross is a paradox and we must spend our lives learning to kneel before and heed its wisdom. Yet at present we do not see “all things subject to him,” but we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” because he suffered death. God’s “weakness” is stronger than Satan’s power.