Study of Hebrews: “Not Ashamed To Call Them Brothers”



< Hebrews 2:1-4 | Hebrews 2:5-19 | Hebrews 3:1-6 >

Several years ago during a class on sexual abuse, a prof shared a song by Nichole Nordeman with the class called “Small Enough.”  I was taken by the heart and the pathos of the song, especially in the context of talking with people who had been victimized by those who were supposed to care for them most.

Oh, Great God, be small enough to hear me now.
There were times when i was crying
from the dark of Daniel’s den,
and I have asked You once or twice
if You would part the sea again.
But tonight i do not need a fiery pillar in the sky,
just wanna know You’re gonna hold me if i start to cry.
Oh, Great God, be small enough to hear me now.

So far the author of Hebrews has presented Christ as “very big.”  He is the one who sits on the throne, the Son of God, and the one of whom God witnessed with signs and wonders.  The next verses, however, begin to paint a seemingly contradictory picture, yet it is in the very nature of God to be both: God the Father is different yet synonymous with God the Son.

The author of Hebrews takes us to Psalm 8 and interprets it as a reference to Christ’s incarnation:

Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
(Hebrews 2:5-9 ESV)

While Christ is indeed God, he had to have been human to be who he is.  Psalm 8 seems to be as much about being in awe of the wonder that God would care for us as it is about the awe of the wonder that Christ would subject himself to our state so that he could do what he promised.  You see it is in God’s very nature to be not only the “Great God” but to also be small enough to “taste death for everyone.”  Yet this is not the only reason that Christ left heaven.

For 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.
(Hebrews 2:10 ESV)

Humanity Required

To suffer in our place he had to have become human.  Not only in his suffering on the cross did he become like us, but in his being tempted, wounded, and ridiculed (Hebrews 2:18).  Christ carried his cross to show us what being human was all about, he burdened himself with our sins so that he could free us from what he chose to take on himself.  Christ became “small enough” to not only understand how it feels to be human, but to release us from our burdens by doing what only he could do (Hebrews 2:14-15).

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,
(Hebrews 2:11a ESV)

This is astonishing! This is God, incarnate, but not only is he God but he is also so much like us that he is, in fact, one of us.  Christ did not come in flesh and then not want to have anything to do with humans because he was better than us.  No, in fact, he not only actively associated with sinners, but he made himself one with humanity.  It was not like putting on a costume and going to a party, it was actually becoming something different; becoming just like what he had made.  Christ calls us his brothers (don’t let the gender reference fool you; it is a reference to sonship which is very important in the context of the Bible).

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
(Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV)

Not only did Christ have to be human to be our sacrifice, but he also is able to give help because he has been one of us and he understands what it is like to live as one of us.  He knows our pain, he knows our grief and he knows how difficult it is to stand in the face of temptation.  Because of Christ’s humanity, he was able to also take on sin (2 Cor. 5:21) because he was human, and because he was sinless himself he was able to not only cover our sin but was able to annihilate it (propitiation).

He IS Small Enough!

The beauty of Christ is that he made God “small enough” to understand us, to care for us, and to do what we cannot do for ourselves.  He did not only close the mouths of the lions, but he gives us living water to drink and he stills the storms of life with the assurance that we belong to him.  What a beautiful message and what an amazing story that is almost too good to be true.  I wish I could begin to grasp what this means, what Christ really did, not only in dying on the cross but simply becoming one of us, someone just like me.  Thank God that in spite of my constant inability to please him, he sent someone who not only did please him, but then hands me that favor and that inheritance as my own!

< Hebrews 2:1-4 | Hebrews 2:5-19 | Hebrews 3:1-6 >

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

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