Scripture often uses metaphors to help us understand deep spiritual truths by relating them to things familiar to us. Among the most personal are metaphors that describe our relationship with God: bride and groom, sheep and shepherd, clay and potter, children and father. The New Testament tells us that when we’re adopted into God’s family, thanks to Jesus’ sacrificial work on our behalf, He becomes the spiritual big brother to all of us. This is a shocking and mysterious claim! What does it mean to call Jesus our brother? And what kind of brother is He?
• Jesus is welcoming, never seeing us as rivals or ridiculing our faults (Rom. 5:8). He is isn’t threatened by our adoption as God’s children and feels no need to put us in our place. Instead, He actually reached out to us and invited us to join the family before we even wanted to. He knows we don’t deserve God’s love, and if He were like many big brothers, He would point that out and bully us constantly. Instead, He’s always gracious and kind.
• Jesus does everything first and sets an example for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21). He’s the firstborn and the first to be in relationship with God the Father. He has shown us a sinless life, taught us how to pray, and modeled mind-blowing forgiveness. And as the first to conquer death and enter heaven in a glorified body, He has invited us to imitate Him and also experience resurrection to eternal life (Eph. 5:1). We simply can’t go wrong when we follow in His footsteps.
Jesus reached out to us and invited us to join the family before we even wanted to.
• Jesus teaches us (John 13:13). When Jesus was on earth, He turned conventional religious thinking upside down, telling people they were blessed when they felt insulted, instructing us to love our enemies, and criticizing those who try to impress others with their religious performance. He noticed and cared for people who were used to being ignored, and He actually served His followers instead of the other way around. None of this was accidental; Jesus purposely made Himself an example for us. And even now, His words and His ways continue to teach us who God is, how we can come to Him, what it means to live a life in keeping with God’s commands, and what we can expect when we do. He teaches us about the real world—the one we can’t see.
• Jesus offers constant guidance and support (John 15:5). He has big plans but isn’t the kind of brother who leaves us and goes off on His own adventures; He’s called us all to join Him on a mission—living for Him and sharing His good news with others. And to help us and change us along the way, He gives us the Holy Spirit. When we come to Jesus, He accepts us as we are but doesn’t leave us that way; instead, He sees us for who we can be with His transformation. Then He lovingly challenges us to be more and more like Him. Jesus sticks with us no matter what and patiently lets us lean on Him.
Like the best of big brothers, Jesus defends us and even fights our battles.
• Jesus is willing to share His inheritance with us (John 14:1-3). This brother shares His toys. Even though we ruined the perfect world God originally created for us, Jesus invites us to inhabit a perfect world again. Even though we have chosen death by choosing sin, He offers us eternal life in a kingdom without sin or death. Despite our dismal history of destruction, He doesn’t try to keep us out of God’s house; He invites us in. And He is personally making room for us in His eternal home.
• Jesus paid the legal fees for our adoption (1 John 2:1-2). Our reconciliation with God comes at a price—the death penalty for our sin. Jesus became like us, our brother in humanity, fully God and fully man, so He could pay that price of death. With the debt covered, our way to God is clear and Jesus welcomes us with open arms.
• Jesus sticks up for us (Heb. 7:25). Like the best of big brothers, He defends us and even fights our battles. He knows our weaknesses and completely understands what it’s like to face the challenges we face—He’s been there. Jesus even stands up for us before God the Father, offering His sinless life and atoning death in our place.
So what kind of brother is Jesus? He’s perfect—always kind, completely generous, and absolutely wise. He has chosen to be our brother, even as He chose to become one of us. Aren’t you glad He’s in your corner?
Illustration by Jeff Gregory