His Own - John 13. 1 - My Brethren
A. C. Hinton, Uxbridge
'But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God', John 20. 17.
IN THE LAST ARTICLE we noticed that, with the thought of friendship, we arrived at a higher plane than our earlier studies had reached. It is a privilege to be His servant, and an honour to be His disciple but friendship implies association of an entirely different and superior order, so that the wonder of His words 'My friends' passes telling. Yet this is, in turn, surpassed by the truth now before us, which reveals an infinitely loftier level of blessedness and dignity, i.e. relationship, kinship.
Unlike the terms already considered, the Lord did not address His own in this way until after His resurrection. Then, fresh from the conflict and the triumph, He made the unfolding to them of this astonishing truth His first concern. In this He followed the pattern of Psalm 22. The early part of that Psalm is occupied with the Cross, its sorrows and woes, but it ends with His declaration that God had heard Him, verse 21. Some of the results are then recorded, commencing with 'I will declare thy name unto my brethren'.
Another important difference is to be observed. We. have noticed the 'hearing' of the sheep, the 'let him follow' of the servant, the disciple 'coming after' and the 'doing whatsoever' of the friend but all thoughts of this kind are absent here. Relationship is unconditional and unalterable. It is not affected by personal achievement or worthiness, it is not a matter of character but of birth.
It is noteworthy that, in the first instance, the Lord entrusted the making known of what had hitherto been a precious secret of His own heart, to the one who had lingered near the empty tomb when all her fellows had found other places to turn to, her heart being completely occupied with Him - although she thought of Him as dead. It is still the case in our day that He will reveal Himself and His choicest thoughts to such.
Thus His own learned of this high dignity bestowed upon them as those associated with the risen Saviour - the near relationship of brethren. For this to be true of men they must be the sons of the same father and He speaks of His Father as 'my Father and your Father', His relationship to God, as Man, being now their relationship to God. This is not, of course, in regard to His eternal relationship to the Father in His essential deity but in regard to His glorified manhood.
This relationship was part of God's eternal counsel, its purpose being the glory of His Son, Rom. 8. 29. Its accomplishment necessitated His incarnation, taking part of flesh and blood because those with whom He was to be associated in this way were partakers thereof, Heb. 2. 14. It also necessitated the death of the Cross, otherwise He must have remained alone, John 12. 24.
Surely this is the very wonder of grace, purposed in eternity, contemplated from afar, announced on the glad resurrection morning, already accomplished in part but still awaiting the glorious completion when, His brethren all conformed to His image, He will be all-glorious above His fellows.
Development of this theme would lead into the subject of the believer's sonship, i.e. his relationship to the Father, which would be beyond the scope of this article. Here we may rejoice in the twin wonders that not only has God, in grace, made us sons but also that the One who alone has that designation by inherent right condescends to say of us 'My brethren'.
It remains to add that remembering the unique glory of Christ, we would shrink from speaking of Him as 'our brother': rather would we follow the example of Thomas and say 'my Lord and my God'.