"He is not ashamed to call them brethren." —Hebrews 2:11
If the Leader of God's "many sons" must share their
trials He must Himself become Man. This was a Brotherhood to be gloried in.
He Himself was not ashamed of it, since they and He are "all of One, for
which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." "Since then the
children are sharers in flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner
partook of the same." "Born of a woman" He shared their entire humanity. He
experienced the feebleness and dependence of infancy, and is Brother to
every little child. Toiling in obscurity, year after year, He is Brother to
all who, by sweat of brow, earn their daily bread. Having experienced hunger
and thirst He is Brother to all who suffer privation, and all who ever
hunger naturally for what they cannot obtain righteously. Weary at the well
and in the boat, He is Brother to all whose labor of hand or head is
excessive and exhausting. In the agonies of scourge and cross He was Brother
to all who suffer pain, and are in danger of impatience or of wrongful
escape. He experienced the separation of soul and body, and the instinctive
fear of death common to humanity.
As our Brother, He took to Himself a human soul as well
as body, with human emotions—exhibited in His "compassion on the
multitudes"; His pity towards the sick and sad; His sympathy when He wept on
seeing the tears of others; His love for little children; His benevolence
towards all, with His special friendship for a few. With the bravery of the
bravest He united the tenderness which some falsely contrast with manliness,
but which is an essential element of it. He sought human sympathy, even in
the intervals of prayer to His Father; and was pained by unrequited
affection and desertion. He exhibited the self-respect which every true man
should feel, when He said, "have you come out as against a thief?"
In spirit, as well as body and soul, He was our
Brother—exhibited in His exceeding sorrowfulness, the anguish of the
Sin-bearer, His cry from the midnight gloom of the cross. Whatever has been
endured by any of His followers in depression of spirit, in agony of
forsakenness, was felt by Him.
Without sin, He partook of the faculties which to us are
occasions of sin. "God made man upright;" with human instincts, "very good."
The first Adam was tempted, and fell; the second Adam was tempted, and stood
firm. Because tempted—our Brother.
As Brother He shared the discipline of trial. Our High
Priest sanctifies us, by His Sacrifice, Spirit, and Example; and we who are
thus sanctified are all children of the Father who led Him and is leading us
to glory. God ordains the suffering and the glory, both in the case of the
"Captain of Salvation" and His followers. Therefore, sharers in the
discipline of the same Father, in the sanctifying grace of the same Spirit,
subject to the purifying flames of the same furnace, journeying along the
same painful path to the same blessed Home—He and we are "both of One;" and,
therefore, He is not ashamed to call us brethren.
It may happen among men that one becoming great in
position, but small in heart, is ashamed to acknowledge his brother, who
still lives in the cottage they had shared together. Not so with Christ.
After His brief sojourn on earth as our Brother, now raised to the glory of
His Father's throne, He is not ashamed to own those with whom He shared
poverty and pain.
He acknowledged this Brotherhood when He said to the
multitude, "Whoever does the will of my Father, the same is my brother." He
owned it after His resurrection—"I ascend to my Father and your Father." He
ascended in the same human form. The angels expressed it when they said,
"This same Jesus shall in like manner" return—as Man. At the Second Advent
"the Son of Man will come in His glory"—glorious, yet Man. On the
judgment-seat He will proclaim the relationship—"Forasmuch as you did it to
one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it unto me;" the very
least of them—His brother! And in heaven, when He might have put away a form
reminding of humiliation, He retains it forever. "The Lamb as it had been
slain" means the Savior as a Man, with the scars of Calvary, seated on the
Why is He not ashamed? Because we are children of the
same Father, "both of One Father." Because of the true love which is never
ashamed of its object, but is the more ready to express itself the more it
is needed. Because He knows the infirmities with which we struggle, the
yearnings of unsatisfied desire, the cravings of poverty and pain, the
opportunities presented by circumstances for Satan's assaults—weariness of
mind and weakness of flesh. He is "touched with a feeling of our
infirmities," and, in spite of our failures, is not ashamed of us. Because
He knows the good that is in us, for He put it there. He knew how sincere
Peter was, in spite of his failure when he said, "You know that I love You."
He sees that, battling with temptation and often wounded, we still retain
the shield and grasp the sword; and that although often stumbling and faint,
our faces are still heavenward. Beneath fading blossom and torn leaf He sees
the living germ that shall yet burst into beauty and fruitfulness.
He does not despise the day of small things—the first
tear of the penitent, the first genuine struggle against sin, the first
homeward step of the prodigal. He sees the little patches of blue sky that
foretell fair weather, the first few flowers that show the path of coming
spring, the first streaks on the horizon that proclaim the dawn—and He is
not ashamed of us.
He has a work of grace going on in our hearts. He knows
what He has done and will do. He sees the end from the
beginning; the flower in the bud, the fruit in the blossom, the day in the
dawn, the river in the streamlet, the man in the babe, perfected Glory in
the beginnings of Grace. Because in us—fearing, sorrowing, struggling,
bleeding, fainting, sometimes falling—He sees those He is leading to glory,
who will surround His throne, radiant in holiness, exulting in bliss,
perfect as He is perfect—"He is not ashamed to call us brethren."
Let this Brotherhood with the chief Sufferer comfort all
"the sons of God" who mourn. What an honor is such relationship! What a
treasure is such love! Heavenly realities transcend all earthly terms. His
is a love which never loses its freshness, never wearies in its
manifestation, and which no lapse of time can weaken. We shall never fully
know "the length and breadth and depth and height" of a love that "passes
It is consolation that there is nothing in us the
discovery of which will diminish His love, because He already knows more of
our unworthiness than we ourselves. We may sometimes think that if those we
love knew all our faults they would love us less. Jesus knows. He has "set
our sins in the light of His countenance," but that light is love. There is
nothing for Him to find out that will make Him ashamed to call us brethren.
"Since You have deigned,
Creator of all hearts, to own and share
The woe of what You mad'st and we have stained.
"You know'st our bitterness; our joys are Thine;
No stranger You to all our wanderings wild;
Nor could we bear to think how every line
Of us, Your darkened likeness and defiled,
"Stands in full sunshine of Your piercing eye,
But that You call'st us Brethren! Sweet repose
Is in that word! The Lord who dwells on high
Knows all, yet loves us better than He knows."
The lowliest Christian may exult in a Brotherhood nobler than all worldly
relationship. Those in peril may rely on the safety this assures. In all
distress we have a "Brother in adversity;" a Friend who "sticks closer than
a Brother." When tempted we can confidently appeal to Him who "resisted unto
blood striving against sin." When bereaved we can be sure of the sympathy of
the Brother of Bethany. And when we cross the river called Death, our
Brother will fulfill His promise, "When you pass through the waters I will
be with you." He will welcome us on the other shore, lead us by the hand to
the Father's presence, and say, "Here am I, and the children You have given
me!" Before the innumerable multitude of unfallen angels He will own us as
co-heirs with Himself, and summon us to share the home He is preparing for
us—saying, "Come, O blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Then, when we are
"perfected," reflecting His image—"like Him, seeing Him as He is" throughout
eternity He will "not be ashamed to call us brethren!"