In his book A Heavenly Conference, Richard Sibbes has a great section about Christ our “brother” (cf. Mt. 25:40; Heb. 2:11-12; 17). Sibbes was talking about Christ’s words to Mary in John 20:16-17, where Jesus told her to “go to my brothers” and tell them that he would ascend into heaven. Here are some of Sibbes comments:
Objection: “Ay, but saith the poor soul, I that have been so sinful, and so unworthy, a wretch, shall I have comfort in this, that Christ is my Brother, and I am Christ’s? I cannot do it.”
Answer: I profess thou canst not do it, flesh and blood must not teach it thee, thou must be taught by the Spirit of Christ; but consider how the Apostles used Christ. Thou canst not call Christ Brother, because thou hast been a sinner, and hast carried thy self unkindly to Christ. And did not the Disciples so? Did not they leave him, and one of them deny him, and that with oaths. Therefore whatsoever our sins have been, deny not our relation to Christ. The poor Prodigal said, I am not worthy to be called a son, I am not worthy to be called a servant. He denied not that he was a son, but he was unworthy of it. And so I, unworthy to be a spouse and brother of Christ, yet do not our unfaithful hearts too much pleasure, as to deny our relation.
The Apostles were so dignified, as to be called the ‘pillars of the world;’ but these left him, and yet for all that in this time of their desertion of him, he said, ‘go tell my brethren.’ Therefore be not discouraged, go to Christ in our worst condition, in our greatest temp∣tations, when our hearts misgive us most, that we have used God most unkindly, and Satan assailed us most with desperate temptations, yet own him for our brother, who owned his disciples, when they dealt most unkindly with him.
I beseech you count it a comfort invaluable, which no tongue is able to express, that Christ after his resurrection, should call them brethren. He might well call them brethren after the resurrection, because then all debts were discharged by his death. He had paid their debts, and now the acquittance was due to them, because Christ, as surety, had paid all. Now I am risen, go, and tell my brethren so. If we can make use of the death and resurrection of Christ, and say, Christ hath died for my sins, and rose again for my justification, I will interest my self in his death, I will claim the virtue of his resurrection, then take the comfort of this.
…So when any temptation cometh for our unworthiness, and our undeserving: then think Christ after his resurrection called his apostles brethren, and he will be content to be my brother, if I will believe, he died for me, and I will cast my self upon him, therefore away with all doubts.