Have you ever been embarrassed by someone's conduct? Has your conduct ever embarrassed someone else?
This is a common experience, most often related to some breach of etiquette or common courtesy.
But, on a more serious level, is there anyone in your life you wish you didn't even know? Someone you hope your friends don't find out you know? Someone whose conduct or character is so disreputable that you feel tarnished by the association? Maybe even someone in your own family?
Perhaps it's a person you really do love, but simply can't afford to admit you're close to. Wasn't this the case with Peter when he denied even knowing Jesus?
Whatever the circumstances, fair or unfair, there are times when people find certain relationships too problematic to own publicly.
And, as is so often the case, a good, long look in the mirror is a healthy remedy.
In the second chapter of Hebrews, the writer makes the case that Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to pay the price for the sins of humanity, because he became one of us and knows what it's like to live here. Jesus was made to undergo suffering in the flesh, and through that process was made complete to fill the role of Redeemer for all the world.
"For this reason he had to be made like his brothers 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 all people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:17-18
While reading this passage, we naturally focus on Jesus understanding us and being merciful. But, there is a word here that must not be overlooked: "brothers".
Going back to 2:11, "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."
Of all who would have a right to be ashamed of anyone, Jesus would have a right to be ashamed of me, for my sin and failure to appreciate His gift. Who would not say the same? Yet, he's not ashamed, but instead calls me family. What does this mean for my attitudes toward others?
In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells a story illustrating the need for forgiveness. In the story, a king forgives a servant of a debt so large the servant never could have repaid it in his lifetime. The servant then turns right around and refuses to forgive a fellow servant of a much smaller debt, resulting in the king's anger and reinstatement of the original debt.
The obvious moral of this story is that one child of God has no right to withhold forgiveness from another, when God has already forgiven all his children, cancelling debts so large none of us could have ever repaid them.
The same idea applies to the lesson learned in Hebrews. If Jesus is not ashamed to call me his brother, what right do I have to ostracize or alienate anyone else in his family?
What right does anyone in Jesus's family have to isolate themselves from one another?