His likeness to God, as in the first chapter of Hebrews, is the only basis of true understanding of His likeness to men, as in the second chapter of Hebrews.
And this likeness to God, as given in the first chapter of Hebrews, is likeness--not in the sense of a mere picture or representation--but is likeness in the sense of being actually like in very nature--the very "impress of His substance," Spirit of Spirit, substance of substance, of God.
And this is given as the preliminary to our understanding of His likeness to men. That is to say: from this we are to understand that His likeness to men is not merely in shape, in picture, or representation, but in nature, in very substance. Otherwise, the whole first chapter of Hebrews, with all its detail of information, is, in that connection, meaningless and misplaced.
What, then, is this truth of Christ made in the likeness of men, as given in the second chapter of Hebrews?
Bearing in mind the great thought of the first chapter and the first four verses of the second chapter,--of Christ in contrast with the angels, higher than the angels, as God,--we begin with the fifth verse of the second chapter, where begins the thought of Christ in contrast with the angels, lower than the angels, as man.
So we read: "For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subject under his feet. For in that He put all in subject under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus." Heb. 2:5-9.
That is to say: God has not put in subjection to the angels the world to come, but He has put it in subjection to man--yet not the man to whom it was originally put in subjection, for, though it was so, yet now we see it not so. The man lost his dominion, and instead of having all things in subjection under his feet, he himself is now in subjection to death. And he is in subjection to death only because he is in subjection to sin, for "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Rom. 5:12. He is in subjection to death because he is in subjection to sin, for death is only the wages of sin.
Nevertheless, it stands eternally true that not unto the angels hath He put in subjection the world to come, but unto man. And, now, Jesus Christ is THE MAN.
For, though this dominion having been put in subjection to man and though now we see it not so, though man was given the dominion over all, and now we see that dominion lost to that particular man, yet we do "see Jesus," as man, come to regain that original dominion. We do "see Jesus" as man, come to have all things put in subjection under Him.
That man was the first Adam; this other Man is the last Adam. That first Adam was made a little lower than the angels; this last Adam, Jesus, also we see "made a little lower than the angels."
That first man did not remain in the position where he was made, "lower than the angels." He lost that and went still lower and became subject to sin and, in that, subject to suffering, even to the suffering of death.
And the last Adam we see in the same place, in the same condition: "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death." And again: "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all OF ONE."
He which sanctifieth is Jesus. They who are sanctified are men of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. And one man sanctified out of any nation, any kindred, any tongue, or any people, is divine demonstration that every soul of that nation, kindred, tongue, or people might have been sanctified. And Jesus, having become one of these that He might bring them to glory is proof that He is one of mankind altogether; that He, as man, and all men themselves, are "all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren."
Therefore, as in heaven He was higher than the angels, as God; so on earth He was lower than the angels, as man. As when He was higher than the angels, as God, He and God were of one; so when He was on the earth, lower than the angels, as man, He and man are "of one." So that just as certainly as, on the side of God, Jesus and God are of one--of one Spirit, of one nature, of one substance; so, on the side of man, Christ and man are "of one"--of one flesh, of one nature, of one substance.
The likeness of Christ to God is in substance as well as in form. And the likeness of Christ to man is in substance as well as in form. Otherwise, there is no meaning in the first chapter of Hebrews as introductory to the second chapter--no meaning in the antitheses between the first and second chapters, and the first chapter is out of place and empty, as a basis of introduction to the second chapter.