October 18, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 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— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
No doubt you’ve already begun to make plans for the holidays. Thanksgiving is six weeks away and with all the extra rules to follow this year it’s going to take extra planning. You may be wrestling with the question, “Can I make it work to drive to family this year instead of fly?” Or, with work and bills the way they are you may be asking yourself, “Can I afford to take time off to see family?” Or, perhaps you are glad that seeing family is going to be difficult this year because you do not want to see family. You might not want to see family because when you get together you fight, and not just over the wing and drum stick, but deep, personal attacks on who you are as a person, who you married, how you raise your kids or what you believe. Maybe you have not seen members of your family for years, even decades and never plan to see them again. Plans for the holidays might mean family for you, but they might not because family does not always get along.
Whether your family does or does not get along, I would venture to guess that in a perfect world you picture your family getting along. You might be thinking that the only way for your perfect idea of a family to exist would be a world where you get to pick your family. Maybe you always dreamed about what life would have been life if you had adopted a child or maybe as a kid you wished your parents would have adopted a child either to replace a brother or sister in a moment of frustration, or hopefully you wished your parents would have adopted another brother or sister to have even more siblings to play with.
Let’s explore the idea of adoption to see if it is the answer to the idea of our perfect family. Let’s say that an orphanage has a child named Kasey who is five years old. And, let’s say that there are two families that would like to adopt Kasey. The first family speaks to the orphanage explaining that they would love to have Kasey in their family. They have a large enough home for Kasey to have a room that belongs only to Kasey. The family has a clean record, enough money to take care of Kasey and live in a good school district. This family has all the right things going for them, then asks if they can take Kasey home for a month and see if Kasey is a good fit for them. The family says that they will keep Kasey if they are happy with the way the child behaves, if not they will ask to see another child. The second family has the exact same situation as the first family and on paper the two families could not be more identical. Yet, the second family says that they would like to adopt Kasey without spending a month together. The second family says that they plan to keep Kasey no matter what.
Often when we are having trouble in our families, we wonder what it would be like to have a new family or the chance to pick our family. The story of Kasey reveals what happens when we want to decide who is in our family and what the requirements are for members of our family. Think about the standards you would set up for five-year-old Kasey. How would Kasey need to eat, dress, stay clean, play, use manners, do in school, play sports, play an instrument, interact with other kids, interact with adults, interact with animals, use technology, etc. It’s a big list, and there are certainly more criteria to add to the list to have your ideal adopted child. Now, how do you picture Kasey keeping all of your rules? Do you picture five-year-old Kasey sitting still to listen to all of your rules and then keeping every rule perfectly? Is Kasey finally the social media, Christmas letter and parenting magazine worthy child or sibling you have been searching for? No, and no child ever is perfect. You and I are living proof of that. And, beyond our biological families or stepfamilies or adopted earthly families, we all have one Father who has rules for us to follow, but we do not keep them. God created you, and he gets the make the rules for how you act. And, when you do not act how he expects you to act, he has the right to punish you. And, when you do not want to have anything to do with him, the alternative is a lonely, horrible place. The prophet Isaiah wrote, 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. The eternal timeout away from God in hell is not where anyone would ever want to be. And, God does not want you there either. As we hear also in Isaiah 43, 25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
Your only hope to get rid of the relationship breaking sins between you and God is for someone else to live your life for you. You need a substitute person to do all the things God wants you to do. Then, you need that person to tell God to accept you into his family not based on the life you have lived, but based on the rule following, good life that the other person lived. So, you need a person who can both do all the things God wants you to do and a person who is willing to trade their good life for your bad one. Does that sound like something one of your siblings would do for you? The answer is, “Yes,” if your brother is Jesus. And the good news is that Jesus is your brother as we hear in Hebrews 2, 14 “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— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Jesus became a human being just like you; he started out in the womb of his mother, grew, was born, grew some more and every day he did what God wanted him to do. Then, he gave up his good life on the cross. On the cross, he was rejected by God because of each of your sins. And, when he died, it was done as we hear in John 19, 13 “And Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’” Which is also what we hear in Hebrews 2, 10 “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” The Greek terms finished and perfect in these verses have the same idea of a completed action. So that what Jesus did through his suffering on the cross for your sins completely paid for the punishment you deserve for not do what God wants you to, for your sins. Now, through Jesus you are without sin or record of wrong in your Father’s eyes.
Now, through Jesus Hebrews 2 tells us, 11 “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” When you and I are ashamed of our families, it is not time to go searching for a new one. You will never find someone who totally satisfies what you are looking for. The solution to family troubles and strife is through Jesus as Hebrews says, 18 “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus suffering freed you from sin. His forgiveness is the reason God adopts you without a trial period. God knows your sins, but he already did something about them through Jesus. God is not waiting for you to mess up, then reject you. God has already called you a son or daughter because of Jesus. And, Jesus knows that you have been wronged and sinned against by your own family. He knows you have sinned and wronged others. And there are times when you share his forgiveness and there is healing in your family, and your family shares his forgiveness with you and there is healing. There are other times when you offer forgiveness and they reject. Or there are times when you admit your sins, but they are not willing to forgive. Jesus knows the temptations you face when family troubles continue. Jesus also brought you into a family that will enjoy perfect harmony in heaven.
We expect families get together for special occasions like the holidays. You and I make up the family of believers who get together for special occasions. You and I as believers meet together for worship to remind one another why we are family. We are a family through Jesus’ forgiveness. You and I get together to retell our family history of God’s creation of the world, Jesus’ time spent living, suffering, dying and rising for us, and the Holy Spirit’s power to call us to faith. You and I meet to call one another out for sin, and then forgive. You and I go after one another when we get caught wandering away from God, and we bring one another back with love. You and I meet to comfort one another in loss, to give courage when overcome by fear and to celebrate the blessings with joyful songs and prayers. We meet as a family to heal with the words of Jesus. Brothers and sisters, we meet together to hear the good news that Jesus made us family, and he is not ashamed to call you his brothers and sisters. Amen.