Part of the Family

Based On: Hebrews 2:10-18

I just happened to see part of a TV show where family members were brought back together.  For example, in the episode I saw a man and his wife were looking for the girl they had given up for adoption more than twenty years ago.  They were young and unmarried at the time and believed that letting someone else raise their daughter would be best.  Since then they had married and had other children and were raising their family, but they always wondered what happened to their first child.  They tried to find her, but couldn’t.  Then this TV show came along, found their daughter and reunited them.  

As you would imagine the reunion was joyful and full of happy tears as this couple added their daughter back into their family and as this young lady met the brothers and sisters she never knew she had.  It really wasn’t just a reunion of one family getting back together – the daughter had her own family that she had grown up with for the last twenty years.  No, now both families were forever changed as each became part of the family of the other.

The same has happened to us.  At Christmas we look at how we are forever changed as God became a part of our family so that we could become a part of his.

That is the miracle of Christmas – Immanuel, “God with us”, the Word made flesh, God becoming a human being.  It is a very great miracle, impossible for anyone except God.  God became a part of the family of humanity to save humanity.  The creator became part of his creation to save his creation. Could Michelangelo become one of his sculptures, or Henry Ford become a model T automobile, or could Thomas Edison become a light bulb?  Yet, at Christmas, we celebrate the infinite creator became a finite creation, the Almighty God who gives food to all became dependent on a young woman for his meals.   He became one of his own creation with flesh and blood, body, soul, and mind.  

He is truly our brother.  Imagine that!  God became your relative.  Perhaps a distant relation, but relation none the less.  He is a descendant of Adam and Eve and of Noah just like all of us – a descendant of those he created.  If it’s a little difficult for you to understand how that happened, that’s OK.  We are talking about a miracle of God and it is not something we can understand.

He became a part of the family of humanity.  He became one of us, but why?  Think about how you treat your family – not just your immediate family, but the family of believers here at St. John’s and the family of those who live here on this earth – after all we are all connected, no matter how distant.

I’m sure you are good to them, especially those closest to you.  You are there when they need help. You are kind and generous.  But I also know that it is easiest to hurt the people closest to you.  Sometimes we think of ourselves at the expense of those close to us.  Sometimes our words cut instead of heal.  When we hurt others, then we have sinned against God who created that family member just as he created us.  For that we deserve to be cast out of God’s creation and out of his presence.  We don’t deserve to be a part of his family.

For those offenses against God and against his creation, the God-man, Jesus, became a member of our family.  God became one of us in every way with one exception.  He was without sin.  In every thought, word, and deed he showed perfect love to God and perfect love to every family member here on earth.  As our brother, he took our place.  He did all the things we should have done.  He avoided all the things we shouldn’t have done.

As our brother, Jesus stood up in God’s courtroom where we could expect nothing less than God’s judgment of hell as punishment for our sins.  He spoke up and said, “I am a suitable substitute for all of them.  I am a human being.  I will take their punishment for them.”  And so, as a human being he suffered God’s wrath for the sins of every human being.  Jesus became the sacrifice that brought peace between us and God.  As he shed his blood he fulfilled the prophetic picture of every drop of blood shed by sacrifices in the Old Testament.  For Jesus to become a part of our family was not just a miracle but an act of love and sacrifice.

He was the perfect brother to us all and through his suffering he made us brothers and sisters of God.  He wants us to enjoy all of the blessings of being in the family of God, and so he now tells us about our Father.  As he says in Psalm 22, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”  He comes to us in his Word and Sacraments to tell us about our heavenly Father and share his blessings.

Not only does he speak to us about the Father, but he speaks to the Father about us.  He continues to keep strong our family ties  between us and our heavenly Father.  When we act in ways that hurt the family, Jesus comes to the Father on our behalf with the nail marks in his hands as proof of his payment for our sin.  

Remember, he is our brother.  He also suffered temptation.  He knows what we go through.  He had a mind, tongue, and hands that were tempted to sin in the same way we are tempted, and so he has compassion on us.  He reminds us of our forgiveness and gives us strength to resist temptation.

He is not ashamed to call me a brother.  Even though I am sometimes ashamed of myself and the things I have done, I am made holy in God’s sight through his Son.  It brings him no shame to call me brother!

On the CNN website there is an interview with a lady who used internet website, Facebook, to find her long-lost brother.  In the interview she said that once she became a Christian she started to realize that she should look for her brother.  Isn’t that true.  God has made us a part of his family, but the family doesn’t stop with us.  We can tell others about our brother, Jesus.  It is a joy to go looking for our lost family members – people we don’t even know yet, people who don’t understand what God has done for them.  We want them to enjoy the family reunion with us in heaven.

Amen.

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