Summary: In the light of Christmas, attempts to portray an understanding of how Jesus identifies with us.
OUR OLDER BROTHER
FIRST SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS
DECEMBER 27, 1998
KEVIN D. BARRON
BETHEL COMMUNITY CHURCH
INTRO. Sometimes it is hard to picture Jesus as my older brother. I have my
older brother, Dennis, to use as an example of this kind of relationship. My
brother and I fought too much when we were kids. We had a lot of different
interests. Being the oldest child in the family, he had to sort of blaze the trail
in asserting his independence from my parents and cutting the apron strings,
so he wasn’t always too happy when it seemed as if my sister and I got things
easier, and he wasn’t always very sympathetic when we didn’t get things easier.
Or maybe it just seemed that way. Once, when my brother was four or five and
my sister three or four, Dennis came running into the house. “What’s wrong?”
my mother asked. “Wanda hit me!” my brother, in tears, cried out. Not
wanting him to be unable to take care of himself, my mother told him to hit my
sister back if she did it again. A few minutes later, Wanda ran into the house,
howling at the top of her lungs. Dennis had found the largest stick - really a
tree branch - that he could pick up, then walked over to Wanda and swung it
at her as hard as he could, whopping her a good one. I’m not a real expert on
older brothers - I only have the one, and as the youngest in my family, I’ve
never had to be an older brother. It boggles the mind that Jesus wants to be the
older brother for the human race, but that’s what Hebrews says - “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 and sisters” (2:11). What does it
mean that Jesus is our older brother? Like I said, I’m not a real expert on the
subject, but I believe the passage in Hebrews tells us some ways Jesus is our
I. JESUS IS OUR BROTHER IN THE FLESH. He was flesh and bones, blood
and muscle, just like we are. Verse 14 - “Since the children have flesh and
blood, he too shared in their humanity.” Verse 17 - “He had to be made like his
brothers and sisters in every way.” To Sir With Love , Sidney Poitier the actor,
bled when cut. Cut Jesus and he bleeds, not just on the cross but throughout
all of life. He stands shoulder to shoulder with us in our struggle to live for
good and for God.
Mary had grown up knowing that she was different from the other
kids, and she hated it. She was born with a cleft palate and had to
bear the jokes and stares of cruel children who teased her non-stop
about her misshaped lip, crooked nose, and garbled speech.
With all the teasing, Mary grew up hating the fact that she was
“different”. She was convinced that no one, outside her family,
could ever love her ... until she entered Mrs. Leonard’s class. Mrs.
Leonard had a warm smile, a round face, and shiny brown hair.
While everyone in her class liked her, Mary came to love Mrs.
Leonard. In the 1950’s, it was common for teachers to give their
children an annual hearing test. However, in Mary’s case, in
addition to her cleft palate, she was barely able to hear out of one
ear. Determined not to let the other children have another
“difference” to point out, she would cheat on the test each year.
The “whisper test” was given by having a child walk to the
classroom door, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and
then repeat something which the teacher whispered. Mary turned
her bad ear towards her teacher and pretended to cover her good
ear. She knew that teachers would often say things like, “The sky
is blue,” or “What color are your shoes?”
But not on that day. Surely, God put seven words in Mrs.
Leonard’s mouth that changed Mary’s life forever. When the
“whisper test” came, Mary heard the words:
“I wish you were my little girl.”
- John Trent, Ph.D., Vice President of Today’s Family, Men of Action, Winter
1993, Page 5
He knows what the struggles of the flesh are, and because he does, he is
perfectly able to help us through those struggles.
II. JESUS IS OUR BROTHER IN THE SPIRIT. He knows what it is like to
be discouraged, depressed, ready to give up. Verse 14 says “he shared in their
humanity” - that’s our humanity and verse 17 says he was made like us “in