We may have grown up in the same house but you were raised by different parents!
Sound familiar? Sibling rivalry is the basis for TV Shows (If you haven’t seen it already make sure you watch Life In Pieces), Christmas Day arguments and many a therapy session I’m sure.
It’s the prerogative of the older child to complain that their younger sibling got to do things sooner than they did. It’s the right of the younger sibling to complain about hand me downs and feeling overshadowed all the time! We joke about it and when we can, we should (good humour will save on the therapy bills for a start). But it can stick, and hurt, it can creep into adulthood and leave scars. It can leave a legacy for some that proves painful. Sibling rivalry is sinful rivalry.
So how do you feel when you hear Christ is our elder brother? Does that flood your heart with assurance, thanks to the sibling love you’ve enjoyed in life, or do you fear sibling rivalry in that relationship too?
When Jesus is baptised, the Father speaks to him and declares of Him,
‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’ (Mark 2:11)
The Son is God’s chosen servant, the one of whom Isaiah spoke (Isaiah 42:1-3; Matthew 12:18):
Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
My beloved with whom my soul is well pleased
That first word stops our hearts from fearing. It frees us from the relationships in life we may be tempted to associate with this truth of Christ as our elder brother.
At the baptism of Jesus, the Father may have been speaking to His Son, but He did so with the world listening on.
Just as He promised through Isaiah, God then reveals His Son to the world, His given gift.
The Son sent by the Father for the world to behold. In His declaring love for His Son, God the Father calls the world to lift their eyes in wonder and delight, in love, amazement and to behold, to look at, take notice of and take in the most beautiful sight they will ever see….. Jesus, the Son.
The Father’s call is one not just of passive spectatorship. It is a call to partake. An invitation not merely to admire from afar, but to receive. God the Father, in declaring his joy, pride and love for His Son, is calling the world to share in that same love, to receive that same Fatherly joy, to become His children.
As the Father calls our hearts to behold his Son, when we behold in faith and love, when we see Jesus as the Son of God, risen and ascended and our hearts come to him in repentance and faith declaring in Him is forgiveness of sins and life eternal, when we behold the Son of God, in Him we become children of the same heavenly Father.
And then we hear the very same words the Father speaks to his Son, spoken to us: You are my beloved child and because of Christ and in Him, with you I am well pleased
To live as a child of God, we must first behold Christ as the only Son of God. We must let go of our natural sibling and parental experiences, however wonderful or however painful, and we must behold who Christ is as the Son of God and as our elder brother.
Because there is a particular preorogative Christ has as elder brother that we must behold.
Christ alone has the pre-eminence.
With Christ as our elder brother, there is no sibling rivalry, there is no jostling for parental attention and affection. We must surrender that and we can, because we are not competing as children do over their parents.
Unlike our natural sibling relationships, there is no grounds on which we as the younger brother, the younger sister, can plead injustice, can grumble about favouritism, or be fed up with hand me downs. I’ll admit my younger daughter often walks round with a slightly bedraggled look (she manages to pull it off!) and her clothes are not as pristine as that of her sister’s, but this is not the case with us and all that Christ passes on to us.
Christ is first in all things, because there is an eternal relationship within the godhead we are called to behold at Jesus’ baptism. The Father first loved the Son, and then us. That is true.
This is so wonderfully, worshipfully true because there has never been a time without God, as Father, Son, and Spirit in perfect love and unity of will. Father declaring love for the Son, and sealed and assured by the Holy Spirit. The picture we’re called to behold at Jesus’ baptism is a glimpse into the eternal trinity. One God, three persons. Father, Son, and Spirit eternal in perfect love.
Christ is the firsfruits and yet as our elder brother he shares all that are his with us, as our own:
He is risen, so we rise again.
He first ascended, so we will ascend in Him
He is first loved; we are then forevermore loved in the Beloved.
With Jesus as our elder brother, all the love the Father has for Him as His Son, He has for us. The love with which the Father loves the Son is the very love with which he loves you. The same Spirit that filled Christ in his Baptism is the same Spirit poured into our hearts when we come to the Father in Christ. The same hope of resurrection life is ours in Christ. The grace the Father showed the Son, the favour of God towards the Son, becomes ours.
Christ is the Son, and so we sons.
Christ is the Heir, and so we are heirs with Him
Christ is the perfect elder brother, who when he receives from his Father, passes on to the sons and daughters of God.
He is the elder brother who does not think to keep his heavenly Father to himself, to selfishly, or anxiously cling on and block the way for the other siblings.
He has no need to.
His Father’s love is ever flowing and ever abundant for all his children. Our heavenly Father does not run out of time, or patience, or energy, or desire as we may do as parents. And Christ the Son knows this.
He is the perfect Son of God, who clothed himself in the body of man, who left his place of glory by his Father’s side, who suffered, bled, and died, all to bring many sons to glory.
Behold the Son who came that you might become a child of God.
See what love the Father has, and behold what love the elder brother has…..