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Thursday, March 24, 2016

He Called Them Brothers

It is a wonder and a mystery all that was taking place as Jesus hung on the cross on that first Good Friday.  God’s righteousness and wrath intersected there.  He demonstrated both His great hatred for sin and His great love with which He loved us.  On the cross, God put forth Christ as a propitiation for sin so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The Scriptures also tell us the many wonderful things accomplished by the resurrection.  Christ’s being raised from the dead secured our regeneration (1 Pet 1:3).  It also accomplished our justification (Rom 4:23-25).  Our sanctification (Rom 6:4) and glorification (1 Cor 15:20) also find their genesis in the Lord’s resurrection.
Yet another blessing of the resurrection is depicted in John’s Gospel.  It is not spelled out explicitly, but it is there if we pay close attention to how the Lord interacts with His disciples over the course of the narrative. 
Initially, the Lord calls the twelve His “disciples.”  For example, in ch13 He says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Likewise, in ch15, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
But later in ch15, He changes their status, so to speak: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
By virtue of Christ’s revealing Himself to them, the disciples became the Lord’s friends.  What an amazing thing to be called the friend of the Son of God.  And yet, there was a relationship with Christ beyond friendship that was accomplished in the Lord’s resurrection.  We see this in His encounter with Mary Magdalene on Resurrection Sunday:
…she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:14-17)
You see, our adoption, too, was secured by the Lord’s resurrection.  The empty tomb signals that believers are brothers and sisters of Christ and sons and daughters of God.  And not only that, by virtue of our connection to Jesus, we are brothers and sisters of one another.  We were formerly enemies of God (Rom 5:10), but in Christ we have been brought near so that we are now members of the household of the household of God (Eph 2:19), and we call Him Father (Gal 4:6).
Being adopted by the Father has unfathomable benefits.  We have been made fellows heirs with Christ of all the blessings in the heavenly places (Rom 8:17; Gal 4:7; Eph 1:3).  All of this is because Christ died for us and was raised.  Here is yet another reason to praise God as we consider the gospel during this Easter weekend.  

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