The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

October 7, 2018

Hebrews 2:9-11

The Best “Big Brother” of All!

 

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.  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.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

Did any of you grow up with a big brother?  I did!  Having a big brother can be a great experience.  If someone is picking on you— you can have your big brother tell them to leave you alone!  If Mom or Dad want something done around the house like mowing the lawn or washing the car— who better to do it than your big brother!  At the same time, however, having a big brother can sometimes be not so much fun.  There is this little thing called a “pecking order.”  Mom or Dad might tell your big brother to do something while they are gone and then as soon as they leave your big brother might turn to you and say, “You’d better get that finished before they get back.”  Then there are the times when you are not allowed to do something that your big brother is allowed to do— simply because he is older than you!  For a little brother or a little sister that just doesn’t seem fair.

 

The picture of having a big brother kept going through my mind as I was studying our sermon text for today.  The reason for that is because of what I saw as “bookends” on this portion of Scripture.  Our text begins with the words “But we see Jesus….”  Our text then ends with the words, “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  Bookends!  Since Jesus is clearly the focus of this text let’s look at this portion of Scripture under the theme:  The Best “Big Brother” of All!  There are three points that we want to consider today.  And, since our text for today has “bookends” I tried to put “bookends” on each of these three points.  Point #1— Our Brother Jesus was willing to be humbled and is now worthy of being exalted.  Point #2— Our Brother Jesus was willing to suffer and is now worthy of being the author of our salvation.  Point #3— Our Brother Jesus was willing to become a part of our family so that we would now be worthy of being a part of His family.

 

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were being pressured to renounce their faith in Jesus as the Promised Messiah and go back to the faith and to the traditions of their ancestors.  This entire letter is designed to remind these Jewish Christians that there is nothing to go back to!  Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophesies that the Lord had made to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  In other words, Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism.  The difficulty— both for these Jewish Christians living back when this letter was first written as well as for us today— the difficulty is that the reality of our day-to-day life doesn’t always look as victorious as it actually is!  Our life is often punctuated by pain and persecution.  Instead of basking in the thrill of victory we often feel like we are languishing in the agony of what appears to be defeat.  That, my friends, is exactly why this letter and why this text clearly focuses our attention on Jesus— the best “Big Brother” of all!

 

Now let’s turn to our text.  We read, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”  This one verse of Scripture beautifully summarizes both Jesus’ State of Humiliation as well as Jesus’ State of Exaltation. In His State of Humiliation the eternal Son of God, our Brother Jesus, was willing to set aside the full use of His divine power, majesty and glory. In His state of humiliation the eternal Son of God, our Brother Jesus, was willing to be “made a little lower than the angels”— the angels whom He Himself had created.  In His State of Humiliation the eternal Son of God, our Brother Jesus, was willing to be beaten, spit on, mocked, ridiculed and scourged.  In His State of Humiliation the eternal Son of God, our Brother Jesus, was even willing to “suffer death” itself.

 

But is that how we see our Brother Jesus now— hanging on a cross beaten and bloodied by mortal human beings?  No way!  Now, we see our Brother Jesus in His State of Exaltation— “crowned with glory and honor.”  Now we see our Brother Jesus in His State of Exaltation sitting at the right hand of our heavenly Father, draped in the eternal glory, power and majesty that is rightfully His and surrounded by all the saints and all the angels of heaven.  And when we look at our Brother Jesus who was willing to be humbled and is now worthy of being exalted why is it so glorious to know that this is our “Big Brother”?  Because of what we are told here in our text, my friends— “so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”!

 

Do we have any reason whatsoever to be afraid of death?  No!  Why?  Because our Brother Jesus not only “tasted death” for us but He also conquered death by physically rising from the grave on the third day!  Do we have reason to hope even when someone we love has died?  Yes!  Why?  Because our Brother Jesus who “tasted death for everyone,” our Brother Jesus who is “now crowned with glory and honor,” our Brother Jesus has promised us on oath, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25); “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).  Yes, my friends, when we see Jesus we see the best “Big Brother” of all!  He was willing to be humbled and is now worthy of being exalted.

 

The second point that we want to emphasize is that Jesus is the best “Big Brother” of all in that He was willing to suffer and is now worthy of being the author of our salvation.  Look at verse 10, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

 

Since the Lord our God is the almighty Creator of heaven and earth, since the Lord our God is the One “for whom and through whom everything exists” the Lord our God has both the power and the right to determine who will live in the eternal joy and perfection of His heavenly home and who will not.  God’s standard of justice, my friends, God’s requirements for living with Him in His home are holiness and perfection.  Anything less than perfection, anything short of holiness is sin— and God considers every sin as being worthy of death.  At the same time the Lord our God did not want us to die— especially eternally.  Therefore, in His grace the Lord our God freely provided salvation for all of mankind.  And as the writer to the Hebrews brings out here in our text God’s plan for our salvation centered on making the “author,” or the “originator” of our salvation “perfect” or “complete”—“through suffering.”

 

What this means, my friends, is two-fold.  First of all it means that in order for Jesus to reach His goal of being the “author of salvation” for the entire world He had to be willing to suffer the punishment that we deserve for our sins.  He had to be willing to suffer and die on the cross in our place.  (Pointing to the cross)  Secondly, the fact that Jesus did willingly suffer and die on the cross for us now means that our salvation is “perfect,” our salvation is “complete,” all of our sins are completely paid for— in full!  There is nothing that we need to do in order to be saved because the “author of our salvation” has been “made perfect through suffering.”  There is no accusation that Satan can bring against us because the “author of our salvation” has been “made perfect through suffering.”  We have the free gift of eternal life because the “author of our salvation” has been made “perfect through suffering.”  With that truth clearly before our eyes we can indeed see and say that Jesus is the best “Big Brother” of all!  He was willing to suffer as our Substitute and is now worthy of being the “author of our salvation.”

 

That brings us to the final verse of our text as well as the final point we want to take home with us today.  Jesus is the best “Big Brother” of all because He was willing to become a part of our earthly family so that we would now be worthy of being a part of His heavenly family— His dear brothers and sisters.  Look at verse 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.”

 

These verses again bring out important truths that we will want to remember.  First, the writer to the Hebrews once again reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas— the eternal Son of God became one of us.  The eternal Son of God took on a true human nature.  He became “fully human” as we confess in our creed.  The eternal Son of God became a part of our earthly human family.  And the reason Jesus became a part of our family was so that that He could make us “holy” in the eyes of our heavenly Father thereby making us “worthy” of being an adopted child of God.

 

Yes, my friends, because of what our Brother Jesus has done for us our status before God has now been changed!  Instead of the heavenly Father seeing us as wretched sinners who deserve His punishment both now and in eternity, as a result of what Jesus has done for us the heavenly Father now see us as Jesus’ dearly beloved brothers and sisters.  So always remember, my friends, always remember that because your Brother Jesus was willing to become a part of our family you are not only a special member of God’s family here on this earth, but you will be a spectacular member of God’s family forever in heaven!

 

Those of us who have a big brother know that sometimes having a big brother can be a mixed blessing.  There are days when the support and the protection of a big brother is just the greatest thing ever.  Then there are those days when we might wish our big brother wasn’t so big.  Those of us who are a big brother also know that this can be a mixed blessing.  There are days when we enjoy being there for our little brother or our little sister.  Then there are the days when we don’t relish the responsibility that often comes with being a big brother.

 

Thank God, my friends, that as Christians we know that Jesus is the best “Big Brother” of all!  Thank God that because our “Big Brother” was willing to be humbled He is now worthy of being exalted.  Thank God that because our “Big Brother” was willing to suffer He is now worthy of being the author of our salvation!  Thank God that because our “Big Brother” was willing to become a part of our family we are now worthy of being a part of His family— forever!  Yes, thank God that Jesus is the best “Big Brother” of all!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen