God acted decisively through Jesus Christ to confirm his glory and restore honor to the human family. Jesus, being the essence and perfect embodiment of God’s Honor, was uniquely qualified for the task. For Jesus to atone for sin, he must be completely honorable. The Gospels, being written by “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16), portray Jesus as an honorable person in all of life.
Here are 7 ways the Bible affirms and expresses Jesus’ honor.
1-His Noble Birth In honor-shame cultures, a person’s status at birth is of great importance. How one is born determines how one will live. Jesus was born into a reputable family and with notable ancestors: Joseph, David, Abraham, and even God (Lk 1:35; 3:38). Supernatural events like angelic dreams, celestial phenomena, and prophecies of greatness surrounded his birth, testifying to ensuing greatness.
2-His Power Over Spirits Jesus has power and authority over the spiritual world, a fact that amazed and attracted crowds in Galilee. He is in a position above the spiritual powers. Even Jesus’ enemies recognized his unique power. Jesus also lends his powerful name to his disciples so they can have his spiritual authority. Using Jesus’ name to banish demons affirms the honor of Jesus.
3-His Divine Affirmation God the Father verbally affirms Jesus’ honor at the most critical points—birth, baptism, transfiguration, and resurrection. The public displays of favor from the creator established Jesus as God’s beloved deserving of respect. God bestowed honor upon Jesus during these majestic theophanies. 2 Peter 1:17 says Jesus “received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ ” If that was the transfiguration, what level of glory was received at the resurrection from the dead and exaltation to heaven!
4-He Brokers God’s Benefactions Jesus brokers God’s gracious benefactions. Because of his exceedingly generous benefaction of God’s supernatural gifts, Jesus is honored as the provider and protector of God’s people. Jesus is the person who “knows someone who can help” (wink-wink!). Jesus benefacted by miraculously healing the sick and feeding the hungry, so was rightly honored and thanked (Mt 8:8-10; Lk 17:11-19). The people who benefited spread his fame.
5-He Defended Verbal Challenges Jesus obtained honor through his social prowess. He was skilled at defending public accusations against the Pharisees trying to discredit him. As a result the crowds acknowledge his honor and the religious establishment loses face in the eyes of the public (Mk 12:17c). His quick responses demonstrate an acute familiarity with Hebrew Scriptures and trap the religious leaders in their own nets (cf. Mark 12).
6-His Purity and Holiness Jesus is The Holy One of Israel, purity par excellance. Jesus’ healings of the sick, bleeding, leperous, blind, dead, etc. reveal his innate purity and holiness. He can not be defiled or contaminated—this that can not be said of any other human; Jesus is uniquely holy. And through his teachings and symbolic actions, Jesus replaces the Jerusalem temple as the ultimate symbol of purity and medium of God’s glorious presence. Jesus, and his body, is the new holy of holies, the very temple of God. Jesus is not from dirt like Adam, but from heaven like pure rain (cf. 1 Cor 15:47ff). For these reasons (and more), Hebrews 7:26 confirms Jesus as “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”
7-His Faithfulness and Loyalty As any honorable son, Jesus remains subject to the will and call of God the Father throughout his earthly ministry. He did not forsake or betray the clear expectations of his Father, but lived faithfully. The temptation narrative purposefully echoes Adam’s disobedience and Israel’s wanderings (Mt 4:1-11) as a foil for highlighting Jesus’ own faithfulness. The Gospel of John speaks of how Jesus surrendered his preferences for the Father’s will (John 6:38; 4:34; 5:30). The epistles often speak about Jesus’ saving obedience (Romans 5:19; Phil 2:8; Heb 5:8). Because the Messiah has been faithful to God’s purposes (unlike Adam, Israel, and every other human), the human family can experience God’s salvation. Jesus’ loyalty enacts divine salvation, and makes him honorable.
Why It All Matters—The Atonement
The life of Jesus was not just free of sin, but also full of honor.For this reason, he can sufficiently pay the honor-debt every person owes to God. Jesus’ perfect honor atones for our lack of honor. His infinite honor erases infinite shame. Jesus is the only true Adam, crowned with honor and glory, capable of leading the human family out of the pit of sin, death, and shame. He is the honorable firstborn, and we are the younger siblings who inherit his status. The only true honorable person is the only honoring person (Acts 4:12).