For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,…
In the verses immediately preceding, the writer had set forth the incarnation, suffering, and death of Christ Jesus, as an indispensable condition of the great work of lifting the race of man into the Divine nature. Then he identifies and unites the two parties. Those for whom Christ suffered, for whom he became perfect through suffering, are lifted into His household, and are become one with Him. This idea runs through the whole New Testament. Men are adopted, we are told. They are of God's household. And that meant more in those days than it now means, by a difference of social arrangements in life. They are sons; they are heirs; they are Christ's brethren; they are united to Him as the branch to the vine. Now, the absolute inferiority of the human soul and mind to the Divine would lead one, in his meditations, to suppose that God could not well other than be ashamed. Adult companionship does not demand equality. It demands, however, some moral proportion. The Divine nature is illustrated here in this — that the feeling of God toward men, in their inferiority, is apparently feeling without regard to the coming character. God sustains toward the whole human race, we may believe, just the feeling which a true parent sustains toward a new-born child, while it is as yet neither good or bad, but is certainly feeble, weak, infinitely out of proportion to the parent. The feeble, the ignorant, the low — God loves them, and has infinite compassion for them, and is not ashamed of them. But quite beyond and different from this, are presumptive reasons why God should be ashamed — namely, in moral delinquency. The child, when it knows it has done unworthily, imputes to the parent a sense of shame in its behalf. And every Christian has times of despondency, not only, but of sober conviction that he has dishonoured himself, and that he has brought scandal upon the name of his Master. And in these hours one goes to Christ with the feeling that He must be ashamed too. We are ashamed to pray, and afraid to commune. And yet it is of just such that Christ says He is not ashamed. He is not ashamed to call them brethren, as we shall see. The shame spoken of is not simply a generous feeling. It is to be interpreted by its relation to the idea of personal communion. Christ is not ashamed to call men even brethren. Conceive of the most advanced and noble Christians that ever have lived in this world — of Martyn and Brainerd, as missionary martyrs; of Fenelon and Pascal, as contemplative Christians — and compare these, not with their own kind, but with the character and condition of the just made perfect. Compare the most peerless saint that walks among men with your ideal of the just and the perfect before God. "Hardly," one would say, "would God be willing to identify Himself with any human being — with even the highest and best." Yet so it is. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. If you consider, now, how far below these ordinary Christians live; how little there is that enters into the Christian experience; how the Divine life is, as it were, but in the germ; if you reflect how far from that ideal which Christ set before us the ordinary, average Christian experience is, men might well express surprise that Christ should be willing to call such Christians brethren. And yet He points to those that stand in the ordinary lot of life, the ordinary Christian experience, and says, "I am not ashamed to call them brethren." Far below this level there is a throng who can scarcely be thought to have even a beginning; and yet there is a single spark. There are occasional impulses as if their souls would turn toward God. Bold are they for the world, but timid for righteousness, and hardly daring to say to their fellow-men, "I am a Christian." Ah! can it be that Christ is not ashamed to call them brethren? He is not. He has been made in the likeness of men, and has entered into the full temptation of men, that He might know to the uttermost, and to the very bottom, what man suffers. The lowest, poorest, meanest of Christian attainments find in Christ Jesus a spirit that is not ashamed. Banish from your minds an oriental monarchy. Banish the conception of such glory as lies in external appearances and external adjuncts. Consider what it is for God to be glorious. It is the glory of pity unfathomable. He considers glory to lie in long-suffering love. It is because He knows how to work for men that are ungrateful, that His heart swells with consciousness of its power. Look, then, upon the work to be done in this world. We can understand, if we consider it in its entirety, that this world is a school; that it is a healing hospital; that it is a training ground; that the Divine problem is, how to take the germ of life and bring it steadily up through all its transmutations, from age to age, until it becomes Divine; and to do it through suffering, through long-suffering, and through patience; to do it by inspiration; to do it by pain and by joy, by sorrow and by gladness, by all means. So to teach the human soul, and lit t upon it time light of Divine glory, that it shall become like God — that is the work to he done in this world. Christ is not ashamed of this work. He is not ashamed of His scholars, neither of those in the lowest, the intermediate, or the highest form. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Not because there is not much that is repulsive to a pure and high nature; but for His own reasons (Ephesians 5:25-27). Without further unfolding this great, this wonderful truth, I ask whether any one need fear to begin a new Christian life with such a Saviour. If, when his prayers go up, they go into the hands of such an One; if all the invitations to a Christian life are those that come from a Brother's lips — from the lips of One who is not ashamed of our poorness, our vileness, our dullness, or our remissness — then any man can be a Christian. Need any one be discouraged who has begun to live a Christian life, because so often he has failed and fallen into backsliding? Is a true pupil discouraged because so many of his lessons are imperfect? There is encouragement, since we have One that is not ashamed of us, in spite of our many defections and inferiorities. Why should we not, therefore, gird up our loins, and take a fresh hold, with new consecration, on the Christian life? Will not every day's experience give reason and argument for gratitude to such a Lord as this? I think I have learned more of the nature of my Master from my bad than from my good. We learn both ways. But it is the sense of God's graciousness that impresses me.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,