************ Sermon on Hebrews 2:11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 4, 2015
"Christ Our Brother"
I have a brother who is one year younger than me. He lives close to Woodstock, Ontario. He is married to a wonderful woman who is the librarian at London District Christian High School. He has served as an elder in his church and as the treasurer of the school board. He is an accountant with a very successful practice. He has two daughters and one son. His name is Bob!
I have a deceased brother who is three years younger than me. He grew tobacco and other crops near Aylmer, Ontario. His deceased wife was a nurse. They have two cute daughters. He served as a Cadet Counselor and head usher. During the Winter he worked for the Sales Barn and sold firewood. His name is Jim!
I also have another brother. He is much, much older than me. He never married. He is very rich and powerful. Yet, He is the most loving person I know: kind, gentle, concerned about children, never sexist about women. He loves visiting the sick and lonely. He is very holy and devout. His name is Jesus!
You heard me right! I have three brothers: Bob, Jim, and Jesus. I have two brothers who share with me the same parents; I have one brother Who shares with me the same Father.
Jesus is my brother! If you believe in Jesus then Jesus is your brother too. That's the message of Scripture this evening.
Usually, we don't think of Jesus as a brother. We think of Him as Lord and Head. We think of Him as Savior, Christ, and Messiah. We think of Him as God. We think of Him as Son. We think of Him as Light, Shepherd, Comforter, Bread, and Life. Calling Him "brother" seems somehow to demean Him, as if we're trying to bring Him down to our level. According to Hebrews, what's really happening is that our brother Jesus is bringing us up to His level (Heb 2:10-11).
I Christ Jesus is Our Brother
A Why is Jesus called our brother? Our text answers this when it says,
(Heb 2:11) Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.Jesus calls us brother because we "are of the same family."
"The same family." What family? What does this mean? Three things are in mind. First, with Christ we are part of the family of God. With Christ we call God "Father." Of course, Jesus alone is the natural and eternal Son of God whereas we are adopted children.
Second, with Christ we are children of Abraham. Matthew makes a big point at the start of his Gospel of identifying Christ as the son of Abraham:
(Mt 1:1) A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ ... the son of Abraham ...Paul makes the same point about us in Galatians when he says,
(Gal 3:28-29) There is neither Jew nor Greek ... If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Third, Christ -- with us -- is of Adam's family, or the human family. Christ, with us, is fully and completely human, of our flesh and blood. His is human form, human appearance, human nature, human will, human soul, human emotion, and even human temptation. Says our Scripture reading:
(Heb 2:14,17) Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity ... For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way ...Quoting from Psalm 8, Hebrews says Jesus was "made a little lower than the angels" (Heb 2:7). Imagine this: the eternal Son of God, Whom Hebrews identifies as the Maker of the universe, was for a while made a little lower than the angels. He came down to our level. He stooped down to join us and be like us.
B Jesus is our brother. We have to be careful, though, that we don't start thinking of Christ as being our equal. You see, Jesus' relationship to me and to you goes far beyond simply being a brother. A little further on, Hebrews pictures Jesus standing in front of the Almighty Father saying,
(Heb 2:13) "Here am I, and the children God has given me." In this verse He is like my father.
When we think of Christ as brother we should perhaps think of Him as our older brother or big brother -- in the same way the Jews of His time understood this. In Jewish society the older brother was the head of the house after the father. He was appointed lord over his younger brothers and sisters and even mother. Only the father was over him. Likewise with Jesus. He may be our brother, but He is also Lord over us.
Some of you may have read George Orwell's book, "1984." The theme of the book is government as an intrusive big brother. Big Brother is watching you. He tries to determine what you do, say, and even think. He listens to your private conversations. He manipulates and controls. Jesus may be a big brother, but He is not this kind of big brother. However, He also wants to determine what you do, say, and even think. He wants to do this not by coercion or fear but by your willing and joyful submission to His every wish and desire.
C Jesus is "of the same family" as we are: the family of God, the seed of Abraham, the human race. "So," says our text, "Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers" (Heb 2:11). If Jesus was here, standing behind this pulpit, He would look over the congregation and point to His brothers and sisters. He would say: Brother ... Sister ... You might remember the time Jesus was told His mother and brothers wanted to see Him.
(Mk 3:33-35) "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. (34) Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! (35) Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (cf Matt 12:46ff)As Hebrews says, Jesus calls us His brothers and sisters.
Our text tells us that Jesus is not "ashamed" to call us His brother or sister. This amazes me when I think of it. For Jesus has every reason to be ashamed of us; He has every reason to abandon us to judgment; He has every reason to pretend He doesn't know us. For you see, in Jesus' family we ought to be counted as black sheep. "Black sheep" is one of those old-fashioned terms we don't use anymore. The black sheep is a disgraced family member everyone is ashamed of and would rather forget: it may be an abusive uncle, an imprisoned brother, a prostituting sister, a divorced aunt, or whatever.
A couple of our Presidents had black sheep brothers. President Johnson had to assign a Secret Service detail to follow his brother and keep him out of trouble because of alcohol. If you remember, Jimmy Carter had similar problems with his brother Billy -- another alcoholic who embarrassed the President. President Reagan kept quiet about his son the dancer and his daughter who is a registered and vocal Democrat.
Look at the quote from Psalm 8 in Hebrews 2:6-8. This quote reminds us that we are the chief and crown of God's creation activity. It reminds us that everything is placed under our dominion. Yet, in the family of God, we are the black sheep. We are the black sheep because we are infected with sin and evil. We are the black sheep because we often serve what is created rather than the Creator. We are the black sheep because often we do not live for God's glory and name. Before His angels, before Satan and his legions, I know that God has more than ample reason to be embarrassed and ashamed of us. Yet, Hebrews tells us that "Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Amazing, isn't it!
II Our Brother is Our Savior
A Jesus was not always our brother. From eternity and to eternity He is the eternal Son and image of God:
(Heb 1:2-3) ... appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (3) The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Jesus became our brother, part of Abraham's seed, of the human race, when He took on our flesh and blood. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary He became like us His brothers and sisters in every way.
B Why did He do this? Why did He become our brother? Or, as one of the early church fathers asked, why did God become man?
Hebrews tells us Jesus became our brother, he took on flesh, in order to destroy the devil:
(Heb 2:14-15) Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- (15) and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.We are so used to thinking that Christ came to forgive us that this might seem strange to us. But do you remember the first promise of salvation in Genesis 3:15? It does not speak to the forgiveness of Adam's sins but to the crushing of Adam's enemy, the devil:
(Gen 3:15) And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.In Hebrews, salvation involves being delivered from Satan's grip.
According to Hebrews, Satan has "the power of death" and holds men and women "in slavery by their fear of death."
One of the teachers in our church told me that a boy in her class said to her last week, "I am scared of dying." She was wise enough to talk to him about this. He was scared of dying because death is a real and everyday possibility. His world, our world, is a scary place and lots of bad things happen all the time -- as we saw again this past week.
Are you scared of dying? Do you fear death? Blame Satan first of all. He uses this fear to enslave us, to make us captives, to hold us in bondage. We fear death because we fear God. We fear death because none of us loves God perfectly. We fear death because we know we will be standing before the heavenly Judge and nothing we do is good enough.
Christ became our brother, Christ took on our flesh and blood, in order to conquer Satan and death. Christ became our brother, Christ took on our flesh and blood, in order to destroy him who holds the power of death. Christ became our brother, Christ took on our flesh and blood, in order to free us from our slavery and bondage and fear. This is the first reason given by our Bible passage. In Christ we who believe no longer have to fear death.
C Why did Christ become our brother? Our text tells us a second reason:
(Heb 2:11) Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. Jesus became our brother to make men and women and children holy. That word "holy" means to be pure, clean, washed, consecrated to God. Jesus became our brother to wash us and cleanse us, to make us holy and pure. Jesus became our brother "to make atonement for the sins of people" (Heb 2:17). Or, to state it the same way as Hebrews 1, He "provided purification for sins" (Heb 1:3).
As I said before, Jesus has every reason to be ashamed of us, to deny knowing us, because we are infected with sin and evil. In other words, we are anything but holy. We are dirty, filthy, wearing the rags and dirt of sin. We are people who need to be washed and cleansed, sanctified and purified.
D Why did Christ become our brother? Our Bible reading tells us a third reason -- to sympathize with us:
(Heb 2:17) For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God ...He took our nature. Fully. Completely. Yes, He was sinless and perfect. But this did not immunize Him against the effects of sin. During His life and on the cross He suffered the consequences of the Fall: sickness, grief, pain, hurt, sadness, anguish of body and soul. He tasted our temptations in a deeper way than us precisely because He resisted them. So, He is more than able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses (cf Heb 4:15).
III Our Brother's Death
A How does our brother Jesus free us from our bondage to fear? How does He wash us and cleanse us and make us holy and pure? Listen to what Hebrews says:
(Heb 2:9) ... he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews talks of suffering, death, sacrifice, atonement. Our brother Jesus frees us and makes us holy by His suffering and death upon the cross.
(Heb 2:14) ... he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil ...
(cf Heb 2:10,17)
Our brother's suffering and death destroys the power that Satan and sin have over us. Our brother's suffering and death removes the debt of our sin.
A young ex-serviceman went into a New York bank to get a loan for the amount of $600. He stood in line until his turn came to present his completed application forms to the clerk. The bank employee took considerable time in finishing the transaction, leaving his desk repeatedly to talk to his superior. Finally the man received the cash. When he turned to leave, flashbulbs went off as newspaper photographers took his picture. Bank officials crowded around to inform him that they were returning the papers he had just signed, and that he didn't have to repay the money. The reason: the amount he had borrowed included the one billionth dollar that had been loaned out since the opening of that lending institution. To highlight the event, the veteran's debt was not entered on the books. Never would it be held against him. Because of our brother's suffering and death, our debt of sin is marked as "paid in full." Because of our brother's suffering and death, our debt of sin is never held against us. Because of our brother's suffering and death, we are set free from our bondage to Satan.
B Our text also reminds us that our brother Jesus is "the one" Who makes men holy. He is not one of many. Rather, He is the one and only. This reminds me of Peter's words before the Sanhedrin:
Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Our brother is our only Savior from sin. Our brother Jesus is the One, the only One, Who sets us free from our fear of death. He is the only One Who makes us holy.
A blind man once stood on a corner at a busy intersection reading aloud from a portion of a Braille Bible this story of Peter before the Sanhedrin. A gentleman on his way home stopped at the edge of the crowd that had gathered to listen. At that very moment, the sightless man lost his place. While trying to find it, he kept repeating the last three words he had just read: "No other name... No other name... No other name..." Many smiled, but the inquisitive bystander went away struck.My brother Jesus, your brother Jesus, He is the One, the only One, Who is able to save.
C Our brother frees us from Satan. So what? We don't have to fear death when we have faith in Christ, our brother. Death is still an enemy but it is not an enemy we have to fear. Meditate on this as you face death.
Our brother makes us holy. So what? Now, we must live holy lives. Our brother makes us holy. Now, we must live a life that is pleasing to Him. What does this mean? Further on in Hebrews we are given some practical guidelines:
-We must throw off every sin that so easily entangles (12:1)
-We must make every effort to live in peace with all men (12:14)
-We must keep on loving each other (13:1)
-We must remember those in prison (13:3)
-We must honor marriage, keep the marriage bed pure, and abstain from all sexual immorality (13:4 & 12:16)
-We must keep our lives free from the love of money and be content with what we have (13:5)
Our brother Jesus has made us holy, so we must live holy lives.
Our brother sympathizes with us. So what? Through prayer and confession let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (cf Heb 4:16).
I have three brothers: Bob, Jim, and Jesus. Two are down at my level -- sinners needing grace and forgiveness. The third is bringing me up to His level. He is my brother in order to free me from Satan, to make me holy and pure, and to sympathize with me in all my trials and struggles.
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