Why He is not ashamed to call us brothers
OK, friends. Come with me to the land of Hypotheses. Are you with me? Good. So, you have a brother named Dan. You two are business partners in real estate. You’re the person who actually sells houses and does the paperwork, and your brother takes the marketing angle, letting people know what a great real estate agent you are and convincing them that they shouldn’t turn anywhere else if they want to find the best property they can. At least, that’s what he’s supposed to do. But imagine that Dan uses most of his opportunities to advertise your business (such as speaking engagements and commercial spots) to point out why your business is inferior to your competitors. His sales pitches promote the merits of other real estate agents. He has only ever lost customers for you, rather than gain them.
You would probably say that Dan is not a very nice man. You would probably be ashamed to call him your business partner. And you would probably be ashamed to call him your brother. A man who dishonors your reputation, hinders your forward progress in the business world, and blatantly neglects his responsibilities does not deserve your respect or your love.
And who am I to call myself better than Dan? Jesus has put me on this earth for a purpose (Isaiah 43.6-7) which I have neglected to fulfill, out of my own rebellion (Jeremiah 2.13, Hosea 3.1). I am constantly showing the world that I believe far lesser things are more valuable than He is. In my idolatry, I call Him a liar for claiming to be the greatest treasure that I could pursue. He follows me with goodness and mercy (Psalm 23.6), and I pretend He doesn’t exist. I’m an awful salesperson of the gospel, as it were, and more often than not, the world would never run to Jesus because of my witness to Him.
And guess what? Hebrews 2.11 says, in spite of all of this, that Jesus is not ashamed to call me “brother.” WOW! We’re talking about God in the flesh… and ME!? If I were Jesus, I would not only be ashamed to say that I know Joe Eaton, but much more to say that I am his brother! I think it’s worth looking at Hebrews 2 to see what led up to this. For time’s sake, I will only discuss the verses immediately before and immediately after the phrase in question, but I will all but command you to read the entire chapter for yourself. You will be blessed. 🙂 And you might want to open your Bible to Hebrews 2, because I’m not going to reproduce the whole thing here.
Chapter two verse ten says that “it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Three observations. 1) Everything we have is from, through, and to God the Father (Romans 11.36). Why should a God with such incredible power concern Himself with us at all? 2) God not only concerns Himself with us, but He adopts us as His sons, at great cost to Himself. 3) Jesus Christ founded our salvation through suffering at the cross. That was God’s plan. If He had not died, we would not live.
So we proceed to verse eleven. It begins, “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.” This follows because everything is from God, and because God brings many sons to glory. So Jesus-lovers are not only created by God, but they are also created for God – for adoption as sons (Romans 8.15) and for sanctification (to be conformed to His image) (Romans 8.29-30). That implies that we share a commonality with Jesus; namely, if Jesus is the Son of God, and God has adopted us as sons, then we have the same Father that Jesus does.
And that is why Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers, continues verse 11. Consider our union with Him: so perfect, so complete, so all-encompassing, that the man by whom everything holds together (Hebrews 1.3) finds no shame in declaring that He is related to us because we share the same Father. We have devalued Him, tainted His reputation, and shouted to His face that we love other things more than we love Him, and yet, He is unashamed in declaring that we are brothers. And immediately after writing this incredible phrase, the writer of Hebrews goes on to prove his point by referencing the Old Testament.
He first quotes Psalm 22.22, where David declares how he will gladly praise the Lord with His people who “fear Him” and “stand in awe of Him.” (Check out the context of this verse). In Hebrews, the writer quotes this verse to show how Jesus makes Himself personal to us, His people, by identifying with us and affirming the greatness of our Father along with us. He continues by referencing Psalm 18.2, Isaiah 8.17, and Isaiah 12.2 in which the writers declare varied expression of dependence upon God in trying times, and their confidence that He will in fact deliver them from their suffering. The writer of Hebrews is making the point that in the gospel, Jesus becomes like us through living in dependence and trust of the same Father that we have. Finally, the writer of Hebrews references Isaiah 8.18. The point of that passage is that God has made each of us testifiers to His greatness and worth, not just among the congregation of the righteous (which we have already seen), but also in the midst of an unbelieving generation. This passage was cited to make the point that Jesus was a witness to an unbelieving world of the awesome love of our Father, just as we have been commissioned as witnesses to the gospel today.
Believer, the point of this section of Scripture is to blow us away with the sheer love of Jesus Christ to us. When we sin, He is not shaking His head in disbelief and rage, and He is not shrinking back in shame from us. He is completely on our side (Romans 8.31-32), and He is our constant advocate before YHWH (1 John 1.1). Further, the point of this section of Scripture is to kill the fear in our lives that we are not good enough for God. Although we are absolutely ridiculous and fall so short in ourselves, Jesus has perfected us and has left us with no reason to fear anymore.
The writer of Hebrews said it best, naturally. Chapter four verses fourteen to sixteen say this: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”