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The Big Older Brother

April 7, 2007

Romans 8:28-30
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

John Piper’s Sermon on Glorification.

You’ve got to actually hear Piper preach this message, because I can’t find the phrase “big older brother” anywhere in the abbreviated manuscript. I have to admit, hearing that phrase from Piper was a bit shocking to me – not the theological seriousness that we normally attribute to him. However, Romans 8 DOES say that he foreknew us so that Christ could be the firstborn among many brothers, so there IS something to this thought. What can we learn about Christ and us from his being the firstborn among many brothers?

Well, much like marriage, the sibling relationship can say something about how Christ relates to us. I’m the “big older brother” in my family. While I’d love my brother to talk about how this relationship looks to him (after all, he’s in our position – the younger brother), I know my older brother responsibilities can reflect weakly how Christ relates to us.

1. Protection. Christ is our protector, and it is my responsibility to protect my brother and sister. (Especially my sister.) I am to defend their honor, and I am to protect them physically as well. While my younger brother would probably be a better protector than me now, Christ will always be in this role.

2. Role model. Younger siblings love and pattern themselves after older ones. My brother especially wanted to be just like me when he was young – he wanted to spend time with me, and be just like me. My sister and I would talk about life, and I know she was also looking to my experience. Again, this is a responsibility – I have to realize they want to emulate me, and be sure to be a good example. Even now, I am looked to for advice in their lives. Just like my siblings look to me, we are to look to Christ. We know we can imitate him perfectly – he never sins, never does anything not worth emulating. While we cannot do everything he does (and in fact, shouldn’t do some things because he is God and we are not), there are things we can follow his example

3.  Love.  I love seeing the child-like love that a young kid has for an older sibling.  They want to be everywhere that their brother or sister are, sometimes to the annoyance of the older sibling!  My little brother in particular wanted me to play with him all the time – which wasn’t always what I wanted.  However, it teaches us how we should approach our big older brother, Jesus.  We should approach him with a childlike love, that just wants to be around him, learn about him, and do things with him.   And, unlike me and my selfish desires, our big older brother will never turn us away if we truly desire to know him.

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