My big brother will git you fer that,
He’ll shine up your eye and he’ll step on your hat:
You’d better watch out in the mornin’, for he
Will be lookin’ fer you, jes’ for pickin’ on me.
You can slap me an’ cuff me
An’ bully and bluff me,
But I ain’t alone in this world,
That you’ve got to meet
When you’re out on the street
Who will fix you for certain, an’ that’s my big brother.
My big brother can clean up with two
Or sixteen or eighteen big cowards like you!
An’ you’d better be careful, coz when he’s around
With only one hand he’ll knock you to the ground.
When I tell what you did
He’ll say, ‘That’s all right, kid,
I’ll just send him bawling back home to his mother.’
If you’re looking for fight
You will get it alright
The very next time that you meet my big brother.
‘My big brother!’ I heard it to-day as I passed down the street,
And it brought back to me many memories sweet
Of the days long ago when my big brother, too,
Did for me what he threatened his brother would do.
When he finished my fights,
And he stood for my rights,
With a strength I believed that no rival could smother,
And I chuckled with joy,
And I thought: ‘Lucky boy!’
For I know what it means to possess a big brother.
– “My Big Brother” by Edgar Albert Guest
Perhaps you have a big brother. Perhaps you are a big brother. Perhaps you wish you had a big brother. Whatever the case may be – whether you have firsthand experience with older brothers or are on the outside looking in – most of us would agree that a big brother is a handy guy to have around!
As Edgar Guest pointed out in his down-to-earth poetry style, a big brother is (or ought to be) someone you can always count on to have your back. Unfortunately, some big brothers don’t fit the bill. Some big brothers treat their younger siblings with contempt…sometimes ignoring them, sometimes picking on them, sometimes manipulating them…using their status of “big brother” to elevate themselves and thus demote their younger siblings. A big brother like that is one we can all do without.
Even if you had a less-than-stellar big brother, we know that there are big brothers out there who would give an arm for you. Today, we are going to talk about such a one. Romans 8:29 hints about a certain someone who is our “firstborn brother” – that is, Jesus Christ. Can you think of a better big brother than our Lord and Savior?! We as Christians are blessed with The Best Big Brother a sibling could ask for. Let us muse over three ways that Jesus takes what we know about big brothers in the family unit to a whole new level.
- The Best Big Brother….
A great big brother is one who teaches his younger sibling(s) all he knows. You can find such a brother out on the court shooting baskets with his little brother. Teaching his kid sister how to win at chess every time. Letting them in on the secrets to his Mario Kart skills (well, some of them). He shows the little rugrats under his wing how to hit targets, pop wheelies, skip rocks, solve equations…and the list continues.
A great big brother doesn’t just teach his siblings how to succeed in the little things. He teaches them how to succeed at life. He shows his younger brother how to treat a lady. He makes sure his younger sister knows what kind of guy to avoid. He helps you with your friend troubles. He cheers you up when you’re feeling down. He gives great advice. Whatever problem you’re going through? He’s been there and done that “back when he was your age”. With such a big brother, you know there’s a practically endless supply of knowledge at your disposal…when he’s in the mood to share it!
The Best Big Brother certainly knows how to show you the game as well:
When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. – Mark 6:34
- A physical big brother may not find himself to be gifted at teaching, preferring to fly solo. Our spiritual brother’s identity as “teacher” is a vital part of His character. (John 13:13)
- A physical big brother that is gifted at teaching may still tire of our needy presence and ultimately tell us to buzz off when he needs a rest. Jesus is ever “gentle and humble in heart”; He exhorts us to “learn from Him so that we may find our rest”. (Matthew 11:29)
- A physical big brother may hold information out on us, because he prides himself on being the one and only big guy on campus. Jesus is not stingy with us, but divulges “all things He has heard from His Father” to His younger siblings, calling us “friends”. (John 15:14-15)
Jesus is The Best Big Brother, because He shows you the game.
2. The Best Big Brother…
A great big brother is one who goes to bat for you…even when you’ve made a right fool of yourself. His attitude is “if you fall, I’m going down with you”. If Big Brother has any fault, he takes responsibility for the misdeeds of the collective group. If he bears no fault, he takes the role of defense attorney – persuading Dad and Mom to go easy on his little pal(s). After all, did he not once share in the juvenile plight of his sibling(s), with no one to go to bat for him?
A great big brother never lets you walk the “walk of shame” alone. Sure, he may think you were a big dummy for doing whatever it was you did, but do Dad and Mom really need to know that? He’ll give you a stern talking-to later, but the first priority is getting you out of the line of fire that is your parents’ wrath. With such a big brother, you know that you won’t be left alone to answer for yourself.
The Best Big Brother certainly knows how to share in the blame as well:
Therefore, He had to be made like unto His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. – Hebrews 2:17
- A physical big brother may be apathetic towards our parental predicament. After all, whatever trouble we find ourselves in, it’s not his problem! Our spiritual brother stands up for us and smooths things over with Dad, as our “advocate” and “propitiation for our sins”. (1 John 2:1-2)
- A physical big brother, though perhaps being equally guilty in wrongdoing, may chicken out and leave us to bear a mutually-deserved punishment alone. Jesus, who “knew no sin”, became “sin on our behalf” – taking our blame upon Himself when He had zero part in it. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- A physical big brother may (whether secretly or openly) be delighted when we get “busted”…it cements his status as the golden child and gives him future ammunition with which to deride us. Jesus not only understands our weaknesses, having been “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin”, but he also “sympathizes” with us…compelling Him to extend mercy and grace to us when we have need of it. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Jesus is The Best Big Brother, because He shares in the blame.
3. The Best Big Brother…
A great big brother is one who keeps the bullies at bay. Nobody better pick on his sibling(s) unless they want to feel his wrath! Any would-be assailants are sent running for the hills at the mere thought of contending with Big Bro.
A great big brother is a superhero in the eyes of his kid brother or sister. Got a battle? He’ll fight it for you. Got an enemy? He’ll send them packing. With such a big brother, you know you’ll be safe from harm’s way.
The Best Big Brother certainly knows how to shove off the gang as well:
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. – Revelation 12:9-10
- A physical big brother may think he’s “too cool” to get involved in the affairs of his little sibling. He wouldn’t dream of being seen defending a little pipsqueak in public – the guys might think he’d gone soft! Our spiritual brother allowed Himself to be “made for a little while lower than the angels”, He willingly “tasted death for everyone”, and He is “not ashamed to call us brethren”. He was willing to humble Himself and become “flesh and blood” for our sake – so that He “might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil”. (Hebrews 2:9; 2:11; 2:14)
- A physical big brother may dismiss our concerns over bullies. He might think we’re overreacting, and need to grow a backbone. He may think we’re making up stories just to get attention. Jesus is well aware of the enemy we face in Satan. Rather than diminishing the very real threat that the devil is to us, he acknowledges it: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” – but that’s not the end of the story – our big brother will take that thieving bully down. Jesus assures and comforts us – He came “that we may have life, and have it abundantly”. (John 10:10)
- A physical big brother may, in fact, be our bully himself. He might abuse his elder position in the family, treating younger siblings to a steady diet of his cruel teasing, blackmail, and imperious dictatorship. Jesus doesn’t use and abuse his underlings. In contrast, He says He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” – this attitude of service ultimately led Him to make the ultimate sacrifice that took us from harm’s way and sealed our bully Satan’s fate. (Mark 10:45)
Jesus is The Best Big Brother, because He shoves off the gang.
Every one of you reading this article – from the only child to the member of a family full of brothers – has the opportunity to form a relationship with The Best Big Brother. Being Jesus’ little brother or sister has its perks: He will Show You The Game, He will Share In The Blame, and He will Shove Off The Gang. Metaphorically speaking, Jesus is The Best Big Brother. Literally speaking? He is all that and so much more, because…
There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24b
For God’s Glory,
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.