Jesus Is Our Perfect Brother

Why do I need Jesus to be my brother?  He came to live and to rescue you from your sins and death.    Hebrews 2:10-18 tells us about the relationship that you have with “Jesus our perfect brother.”  Dec. 30, 2018.

The holiday season is a time where the family becomes a big focus. You might have gotten together with your family to celebrate Christmas or have plans to celebrate the New Year. If you can’t get together, you might make a phone call, send a text, or Facetime with family. It’s like that in my family. I’m the oldest of six kids and as we’ve all grown up and started families, we’ve found ourselves spread out all over the world. So, all of us getting together doesn’t happen often. But when it does or even if it’s just by messaging one another as we did on Christmas, the unique dynamics of siblings always come out.

You probably know what I’m talking about. Siblings share a special bond. They share family ties, they come from the same blood, and they support and encourage one another. Yet at the same time they know how to push buttons. They may fight one minute, yet show tremendous love for one another the next. I saw a lot of those things in my relationship with my brothers and sisters, and still do. I see that in my children’s relationship with one another. How about you? How would you describe your brother or sister, your relationship with them? If you don’t have a blood-sibling, think about someone with whom you share that sibling-like relationship.

Now I could spend the next moments talking about the shenanigans that my siblings and I have gotten into, but there is a much more important sibling relationship to talk about. It’s the relationship that you have with Jesus, who as the reading from Hebrews tells us today, is your perfect brother.

We are just a few days removed from Christmas and celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. But there’s even more. You see, you have an even closer connection than him just being our Savior. The opening verses of the reading tell us that we have a close family relationship that that baby born in Bethlehem. Both the one who makes people holy (Jesus Christ) and those who are made holy (believers in Christ) are of the same family. The Savior and the ones he would save share the same heavenly Father and the same human flesh. The writer of the book of Hebrews describes it further in this way, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity…he had to be made like them, fully human in every way.”

Christmas morning was the revelation to the world of God’s great miracle of the incarnation – that God took on human flesh. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). God took on the same kind of human life that you and I have. This happened as the Holy Spirit conceived the baby within Mary and Jesus started as a microscopic embryo of life and for nine months in the womb grew organs and flesh and limbs. He entered into the world through child birth, no different than you and I. God shared our human flesh, becoming like us, living as one of us, so that he could call us his brothers and sisters. And Jesus did not shrink away from calling us that. “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters.” The baby lying in the manger is your brother.

But why is this important? I personally already have three brothers, a couple of sisters, a bunch of brothers and sisters in the faith like you. Why do I need another? Why do I need Jesus to be my brother? Listen to verse 14 with me again.  Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

This past August, ten-year-old, Jacob O’Connor, saw his little brother’s shoe floating in the pool first. Then he saw the body. Jacob quickly jumped into the pool, pulled his brother, Dylan, out to the deck and proceeded to give him CPR which he had just seen done in a movie the week before. Jacob’s quick actions and his willingness to jump in and rescue his brother saved his life.

Jesus became your brother to rescue you from the sure death that you would have if you continued to drown in sin. Death is the consequence of sin. Every time that you and I give into Satan’s temptations to disobey God, the devil rightly demands the punishment of sin for us and God rightly ought to punish us. So, we have that punishment of eternal death hanging over us.

We become enslaved by the fear of death. The fear of death drives how you live your life. For some you live like there is nothing left after death and you need to get the most out of this life. You live it selfishly, trying to get the most pleasure that you can, to accumulate as much as you can because death is the ultimate end. And you live in fear of not living life to the fullest before death snatches it away. It means that you live for yourself with little regard for others or at least putting their needs after yours. Or life becomes this slavery of despair…that there is no hope. Life is utterly meaningless. You live and then you die. The end. Sometimes the fear of death drives you to try to desperately right the wrong you’ve done as you try to appease God’s anger that he would look away from what you’ve done. You proudly declare your good deeds for all to see, yet silently hiding your sins, hoping that no person, let alone God sees. Yet you live always unsure whether you’re on God’s good side or bad side. This is the fear of death.

This is not the life that God intended for you to live. It is not the life that he wants you to continue to live. It can only end in death. But here’s the solution. God sent Jesus to be your brother because he has seen you drowning in sin. And Jesus jumped into the pool, into this world to rescue you. He swam through the temptations and because of his divine nature, he swam perfectly, unlike you and me.  

But Jesus was willing to do more than just pull you out from drowning. He was willing to make it so that you would never drown again and not fear drowning in death. God demands a life for sins. So, Jesus became our brother, taking on human life, to die the death we deserve, to take our punishment. With the sacrifice of his perfect life, he broke the power of the devil so that Satan can’t hold the punishment of death over you any longer. Jesus completely conquered death with his resurrection. He gives to you forgiveness and life. You no longer need to be enslaved by the fear of death. Your perfect brother gives you life.

For those of you who have siblings, you probably know the rivalry that can exist. There’s the favorite son, the one who excels at everything, the seemingly perfect child. The sinful nature in you can become jealous and resentful of that sibling. It can even cause you to distance yourself from that sibling. Jesus is the perfect brother. He never made mistakes. He always did everything right. God the Father even said he was well pleased with Jesus. God hasn’t said that about me. The sinful nature in me wants to be jealous, distance myself from Jesus, try to do what he did and even better. Instead, I pray that God would drive that sinful ego away from us so that we can embrace our brother Jesus and all that he did through faith. His perfection is my perfection. His death was for my death. His life is my life.

Sometimes a politician or leader can serve who doesn’t really know the people he represents because he doesn’t live among his people and know their needs. But Jesus did live among us. He knows our challenges. He serves as the perfect representative for us before God. He brings before the Father all our needs and pleads our case daily before him. Jesus makes atonement for our sins, making us at one with God, by sprinkling his saving blood upon us.

He relates with us not just before the Father, but with us in the life we live in this world. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. When you are so overwhelmed by temptations, by the struggles of life, by the evil around you, it is easy to think that God couldn’t possibly understand what we’re going through. Why should I go to him for help?

The truth is, Jesus knows exactly what you’re going through. He knows just how hard it is to withstand the temptations of the devil. He faced them. He knows the temptation to be envious when you look at the world around you and all that they have. Jesus lived in it. Jesus knows the pain of hunger, the sadness of death, the fear of loneliness, the disappointment of rejection because he experienced it.

When you are faced with these trials in life, you can go to the perfect brother, Jesus, who is there to offer you comfort and advice, encouragement and support. You can come to him as he’s invited you. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Come to him in faithful prayer and listen to him speak to you through his Word.

This Christmas season, I hope that you get to spend time with your perfect brother, Jesus. He came to live and to rescue you from your sins and death. He’s there to help you in all of our needs like a perfect brother because he is. Amen.

Preached at Grace Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI on December 30, 2018