I always wanted a big brother. In the perfect family there is an elder brother, I thought. My mother is probably responsible for this deeply held ideal. She adored her six big brothers. They were the heroes of her childhood, the models of true manhood. I heard the stories of their adolescent pranks, their achievements, their successes, their courage and, yes, even some of their failures. The accounts of the latter, though, paled in light of their glory, and her love for them. Yes, everyone, but especially a girl, should have a big brother.
It’s no wonder then that I hoped my first-born would be a boy. It didn’t matter who came next as long as a boy came first. I didn’t dare actually ask God for this, however, thinking it would be presumptuous and childish of me. Ultra-sounds weren’t routine 40 years ago. I didn’t know who I nourished in my womb for those nine months and already loved the small person within me. I mentally prepared myself for a girl. Since I secretly longed for a boy, I figured it wouldn’t be. Can you imagine my delight when I met our baby boy and elder brother to all who would follow? I was speechless —and humbled.
I am the eldest in my family. I have two younger brothers. One of them is already with our Father in heaven. He was born one year and 11 days after me and from the time I became aware that a big brother is a desirable thing, I began to pretend that our ages were switched. In my heart, I made him my “big brother”. (Just to set the record straight, both brothers would laugh me to scorn at the idea that I played a “little sister” role.)
The good news, the gospel, is that God has done what he promised he would do by raising Jesus from the dead. About that historical event, God the Father proclaimed to Christ, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” This means that “as the God-man, the ‘man for others’, he took the first steps of man on the ground of the world to come.” Jesus opened the womb from mortality to immortality. He is the first-born of this new forever family. His “birth” from grave to glory, from death to life, paves the way for us to follow. He is our Elder Brother who makes our regeneration and fellowship with the Father a reality in the here and now. That resurrection day, when Jesus was born into a “world to come”, guarantees that what took place in the Elder Brother will one day take place in the lives of all the children, all who receive and believe this good news. I do have an elder brother after all! This one will never fail, will never disappoint. He is the ultimate Hero, my Forever Protector – but not only for me. He is the perfect big brother for my little brothers, too.
We are taking care of granddaughters while their parents are away. As we strolled along the pier our granddaughter, and eldest in her family, noticed the family groupings we passed. “They just have one boy. He doesn’t have any sister.” Then, “they have only girls and no brother! That’s like my family!” After a short exchange with the mother of the girls about brothers and sisters, our little one confidently asserted, “But my mommy might bring back a baby brother for us!” We swallowed our outburst of laughter, while I mused on the precious truth the she already does, indeed, have a Brother – and an Elder One at that.
“My Father, your provision amazes me. Not only have you adopted me and made a way that I, by faith, can call you my own Father – but you have provided for me an Elder Brother. Jesus. I pray that all my granddaughters who don’t have a big brother will trust you as their own perfect champion, their hero, the One they look to to save them from all dark things, the one they adore. And for those who do have a big brother, may they put their hopes and expectations in the Elder Brother who will never disappoint, who will never fail them and whose glory will not fade. Strengthen them, cause them to be rooted and grounded in the endless expanse of the love of their Elder Brother for them.”
Acts 13:32, 33; I Corinthians 15:20; Eph. 3:14-19
Sources: the Bible and Children of the Living God by Sinclair B. Ferguson