This is Episode three of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “My Brother’s Love.” This is the second of a three-episode series focusing on and exploring our understanding of God—including thoughts about the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
On the campus of Father Flanagan’s Boys Home near Omaha, Nebraska, there stands a small statue of one young boy carrying another on his back. It’s not entirely clear from the statue, but the reason for the one boy carrying the other is that the smaller one is crippled. His legs didn’t function well, and he had difficulty walking.
One day, as Father Flanagan was walking across the campus, he saw this scene in real life with the older, stronger boy carrying his friend. The priest stopped and chatted with the two for a few minutes.
In the course of the short conversation, Father Flanagan remarked to the older boy that it must be difficult to carry someone else around on his back like that.
The young man answered, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s m’ brother!”
Those words are inscribed on the base of the statue commemorating that momentary, but profound statement.
Father Flanagan was so struck with the wisdom and attitude of this student, and his cheerful love for the younger boy, that he shared the story far and wide to illustrate the mission of Boys Town, USA. Eventually, that little encounter grew into a major theme for the ministry.
I have personally visited Boys Town and have seen that statue with my own eyes. Such a beautiful concept—expressed in real life for one young man for another!
“He ain’t heavy, Father! He’s m’ brother!”
Last week I shared a bit about my childhood home—a big old house in the farming community near Outlook, Washington. I mentioned that I was the fourth of four children born to Claude and Oral Fenton. I had two older sisters and a brother that was about 28 months older than me.
I guess we had a fairly normal brother-to-brother relationship. We were totally loyal to each other, but between the two of us, we were pretty fierce, struggling competitors. We did “carry” each other—as brothers will—but we also had some pretty horrific fights!
Beryl was more athletic than me. He did much better in active sports, for instance, than I ever could. He loved basketball. I was more of a football lineman type.
He was also a much superior musician. He played the 120 bass, piano keyboard accordion very well, and he could tell instantly if I played a wrong chord on my guitar after I learned to play it in later years.
When he got married, Beryl asked me to be his best man. And, when my turn came a few years later I was proud for him to stand with me at my wedding, as well.
When I finished Seminary training with my Master of Divinity degree, I can still hear the admiration in his voice as he said, “Loren, I am proud of you!” You can’t imagine how much that meant to me then, and still means to me now.
Sadly, Beryl’s life ended far too soon. He died at the early age of 43 from liver failure. We never found the cause for his condition. It was a sad day for our family and his many friends when he breathed his last.
His life impacted the lives of people from all levels of society in the Yakima Valley, from bankers and businessmen, to fellow farmers and hired hands, to his Native American neighbors of the Yakama Indian tribe, to his high school classmates, as well as extended circles of family, friends, and loved ones.
My brother Beryl was well loved. And I know he loved me. If it would ever have been necessary for him to carry me for whatever reason, I know I could have heard him gladly say, “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother!”
And, yet, the Bible tells us that we have a “friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). That “friend” is Jesus. He even calls us his brothers and sisters!”
So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11 NLT).
The Old Testament Isaiah’s prophetic pen recorded these immortal words nearly 700 years before the birth of Jesus:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
The child of Isaiah’s prophecy was Jesus, who is also called Immanuel, “God with us.”
He was, in fact, the One who created the heavens and the earth. Colossians 1:16-17 says, By Him [Jesus] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible . . . And He is before all things and in Him all things consist.
Jesus was the “Word” of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).
Let’s pause just a moment and consider what it means for Jesus to be called “the only begotten of the Father.”
This expression is translated from a Greek word, monogenes, which, literally translated, means “the only one of a kind.”
In other words, because Jesus is both fully human—and fully God—he is totally unique. There is no one else in heaven or earth that is like him. He is completely “like us” in his humanity, but he is also completely “like God” in his divinity.
As a human, standing in for Adam, Jesus won the victory over temptation and sin where Adam failed, gave up his life as the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and ascended to heaven as our “Elder Brother” where he serves as our Great High Priest in the Heavenly Sanctuary.
The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews says this:
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT).
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christian believers in Ephesus, [God the Father] seated Him [Christ] at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Ephesians 1:20).
Then, a few verses later, Paul writes, [God] raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6)
And Jesus himself told the disciples after his resurrection, All authority [power] has been given to me in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).
So, let’s summarize and review these few thoughts about Jesus:
- Jesus is completely at peace calling you and me his brothers and sisters.
- The child of Isaiah’s prophecy was Jesus, who is also called Immanuel, “God with us.”
- He is the “Word” of God—the One through whom all things were created and are sustained.
- He is the “monogenes”—the “only one of a kind”—the “only begotten Son” of the Eternal Father.
- He is the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
- He is our great High Priest in heaven today, representing our needs to the Father of grace and truth, and delivering the gifts of the Father’s love to us through the constant presence of the Holy Spirit.
I can almost imagine Jesus telling the Father about me, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s my brother!”
Indeed, friend. Jesus is our heavenly brother who loves us more than any cost or any trial. The Son of God came to Earth and became the Son of Man so he could take our place on the cross of sin and shame. In exchange for our record of sin, he gives us his own record of righteousness.
All we have to do is accept his invitation to join the family.
I’d invite you to do that right now, right where you are. Just say to him, “Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I need your forgiveness, and I accept your gift of purity, righteousness, and your promise of eternal life. Please, come into my heart as you have promised. Amen.”
And I can almost hear the Savior say, “Welcome home, my brother! Welcome home, my sister! Welcome home!
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
Next week we’ll conclude this short series focused on understanding more about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our study next week will be about God the Holy Spirit. I hope you can join me for that.