Note: This is a series which began on December 10. To start at the beginning of the series, or to access the Table of Contents, click here.
During his lifetime, Jesus Christ had performed many signs and wonders. He had fulfilled prophecy and interpreted Scripture to the wise. He had healed people from sickness both physical and mental. He had cured lifelong debilitating conditions. He had even raised the dead!
Despite all this, there remained some, even among those with whom he had spent his entire earthly ministry, who did not believe that he was who he said he was. It was his greatest miracle of all — His resurrection from the dead — that provided the greatest sign that He truly was the promised Messiah… though there remained as always those for whom no amount of evidence would be proof enough.
In Messiah‘s libretto, the account of Jesus’ resurrection is followed by three texts which establish His divinity on the basis of His defeat of death.
#32: Recitative (Tenor)
Hebrews 1:5 — Unto which of the angels said He at any time: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?
Hebrews 1:6 — Let all the angels of God worship Him.
#34: Air (Alto)
Psalm 68:18 — Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even from Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
From the Block essay:
Having traced the Messiah’s return from Sheol and his entry into the Temple, Texts 32-34 capture the theological significance of this event. Quoting Hebrews 1:5-6 (which contains a quotation of Psalm 2:7), Jennens recognizes that the resurrection and glorification of the Messiah demonstrate his superiority, not only over humanity, but also over the heavenly realm as well. In the original context the quotation from Psalm 2:7, “You are my Son, Today I have begotten you,” represents an adaptation of the adoption formula. With God’s election of David as his chosen king over Israel, his anointing by Samuel (1 Sam 16:13), and his bestowal upon him of eternal title to the throne, David enjoys a special relationship with Yahweh as his adopted son.
The appearance of the dove and the sound of the voice from heaven at the time of Jesus’ baptism (Matt 3:16-17) had formally recognized this role and status for Jesus, but in the mind of Jennens it was the resurrection above all else that proved Jesus’ special relationship with God. Therefore all the angels are called upon to worship the Messiah. This segment concludes with a quotation from Psalm 68:18, which declares that not only the angels worship the Messiah. Because he has returned to Zion at the head of a victory procession, he is worthy to receive the tribute of all, for in his person the Messiah embodies the very presence of Yahweh.
Each of the three texts provides a different reason why Jesus Christ is unique and worthy of worship. In the first, by quoting Psalm 2 in reference to Jesus, the author of Hebrews asserts that Jesus is the Lord’s Anointed (“Messiah” is a Hebrew transliteration of “anointed”; “Christ” is the Greek word for “anointed”), that He is lord over all, and that He will be called God’s son. Furthermore, His sonship is exalted over others who have also been called “sons of God”. Elsewhere in the Bible, this title is given to angels (Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7; Psalm 29:1, 89:6), kings in the line of David (1 Chronicles 17:11-14; 2 Samuel 7:12-16), peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), those alive after the final resurrection of the dead at the end of time (Luke 20:36), and believers in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:14,19; Galatians 3:26). Jesus is a different kind of Son, for only He is called God’s own “begotten” Son. It is because of the Father’s love for his only Son that we are able to receive adoption as sons by way of the Spirit.
In the second of these three texts, which comes just a verse later in Hebrews 1, we see that angels worship Jesus. Since it has been well established throughout the Scriptures that only God is worthy of worship, this is further evidence that Jesus is God.
The final of our three texts for today is quoted and attributed to Christ by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4, with the difference being that Paul says he gives gifts, while the Psalmist says he receives gifts (though some ancient translations also read “gave” here). Given that the context of Psalm 68 is a celebration of victory over God’s enemies, the word translated “receiving” has the connotation of “spoils”, which are gifts that are to be distributed among the leader’s men. Christ’s ascension after His resurrection is the ultimate celebration of His victory! By his death and resurrection, Christ received the power to give eternal life to those given to Him (John 17:2). Among the gifts given to men are the church leaders listed in Ephesians 4:11, who equip and build up the body of Christ so that we may “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ”. This growing into spiritual maturity happens only through the gift of the Holy Spirit, by which the Lord makes His dwelling among men: The fulfillment of the concluding promise of Psalm 68:18.