The relationship of blood brothers started thousands of years ago with the birth of Abel. He became the brother of Cain, the first person born on earth. We don’t know much about their childhood, but it was probably pretty cool. Can you imagine living in a world where there is just one mom and dad and two children? That’s what Abel was born into. Adam and Eve would have other sons and daughters, but the first brothers would have been an amazing relationship. They would have played together, laughed together, fought together, played tricks on their parents together – just like brothers today.
What we do know about Cain and Abel after they grew up is not good. God called them to worship Him and Abel presented the proper sacrifice with the right heart attitude. Cain’s offering was not acceptable to God and God called him on it. Instead of repenting and doing what was right, Cain turned on Abel and killed him. Cain failed to walk like a brother.
God often spoke about the importance of the brother relationship in the Old Testament. One of my favorite verses about the importance of brothers is in Proverbs:
“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
When Jesus came to earth to restore members of the human race to a right relationship with God as His children, He introduced the brother relationship to His followers as the model for their relationship to each other. It’s interesting to note that the first disciples He called were physical brothers – Simon Peter and Andrew (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16), and James and John (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19). Jesus used real-life relationships to teach powerful principles about what it meant to belong to Him.
“Then one said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.’ But He answered and said to the one who told Him, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers!” Matthew 12:47-49
Jesus was not denying that He was related to His physical mother and brothers, but was using that opportunity to emphasize His purpose for leaving His throne in Heaven to walk among the human race as one of them. Jesus made that clear with His next statement: “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (John 12:50) The fellowship of faith is based not on human birth, but on doing the will of God. Physical birth does not gain entry into Heaven for anyone, no matter who their parents may be. Heaven is only for those who belong to God through the spiritual birth of faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Acts 16:31).
Jesus taught His disciples the importance of family and brotherhood through many examples:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
“And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:34-35
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:11-13
“Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:32-34
Jesus’ message was clear – being a member of the family of God meant treating each person in the family as a brother and sister with the same love they had received from their Lord. Think about that for a minute – we are to love every member of God’s family in the same way Jesus has loved us! That’s a tall order. We will need God’s help to do it.
One of the things I first noticed when I became a Christian was how believers loved God and each other. I soon found out why. The Bible is clear about the importance of showing love toward others. It’s not an option.
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40
The religious leaders did their best to defeat Jesus with their wisdom and knowledge, but what they did was give the Lord the opportunity to present powerful truths that have changed people’s lives. I find it interesting that “an expert in the law” thought he could test the great “Law Giver.” The Law of Moses had a central theme and it was love – love God and others. That’s the Gospel in four words. Look at how God wants us to respond in life:
- Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind
- Love others as yourself
First, we give God everything because we love Him so much. Second, we love other people in the same way we love ourselves. That second one, loving others as we love ourself, is much easier to do when we love God with all our heart, soul and mind. If we don’t take care of the first one, we can’t do the second. Our journey to “walk like a brother” begins with loving God with our whole being. Take care of that and the rest is easier.
Now that we know why we are to walk with others like a brother, it’s time to get practical and see how to do it. We’ll look at that next week in GraceLife Thoughts.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”