Sunday, May 04, 2008

More about salvation: Jesus our brother

Does that seem odd—to think of Jesus as a brother? This powerful and exciting passage from Hebrews says that he is.
[W]e see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Hebrews 2:9-11
This passage ties salvation to the following ideas:
  • Jesus tasted death on our behalf.
    • He suffered death, and received glory and honor.
    • This suffering was part of making Jesus "perfect."
    • God's grace allowed Jesus's death to be on our behalf.
  • This process brings "many sons" (male and female) to glory.
  • This salvation has to do with making men holy.
  • This makes us of the same family as Jesus, who calls us brothers (male and female).
The author makes a big deal of Jesus's dying on our behalf. In 20th/21st century America this death thing doesn't get much attention, which makes sense given Yalom's observation (in his landmark book Existential Psychotherapy) that we've got a lot of denial around death and death anxiety, even within the therapeutic community. But having recently been diagnosed with pneumonia, death seemed like it might be closer than I'd previously thought; it was good to reflect on that, and on my eternal future, guaranteed because my King died in my place. As it says in the old song,
Mild he lays his glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
and so for us death need not be the end. This is not all that salvation is, but it is something very important that is included in salvation. (There's more about death -- and the fear of death -- later in this chapter.)

Another very important concept included in salvation is: it makes us (the recipients of salvation) holy; it brings us to glory. So salvation makes us holy—it sets us apart for God's use and saves us from corruption; it also sets us on a path to glory, something I surely want, and I think we all do—to be something beautiful, respectable, worthy of honor, as I've written about before.

And yes, this passage says Jesus is our brother; we're in the same family.

Which is good news for me! I hope it is for you too.

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