Brothers Because of the Cross – Easter Meditations
In the last week I have been preparing a sermon for Easter, and a verse jumped out at me I had never noticed before.
John 20:17 – “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
In this passage Mary Magdalene was weeping because she could not find the dead body of Jesus. Then she encounters Jesus alive. Naturally she holds on to Him and He tells her He has to leave. But the part of the text that stands out to me is that Jesus said “Go instead to my brothers.” This is the very first time that Jesus ever called the disciples His brothers.
He had called them “friends” (John 15:15). In this same verse He mentions that He had called them “servants.” But here post-resurrection is something new, something amazing.
Jesus was close with His disciples. They lived together, served together, ate together, traveled together, suffered together for years. But now the fundamental relationship between He and them had changed forever. It changed because of the cross. When Jesus died on the cross the veil was torn in the temple from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 9:1-9), signifying a new relationship between people and their Creator.
Before this sin was an inseparable gap which separated us from God. It was unfathomable that the Creator of the universe could allow sinners to be part of His royal family. But because of Christ’s work on the cross, sin was paid for. Our sin was placed on Him and His righteousness was placed on us.
The last Jesus had seen of Peter was his denial of Christ right when Jesus was facing the worst test of His life. And Peter was one of the bravest of the disciples. Except for John, no one else was even to be seen at the court where Jesus was tried. They had all run away. This is not what brothers should do.
When Jesus called them brothers it was not because they had behaved in a brotherly way. They had not treated Jesus like a brother when they ran away and fled for their lives. Jesus chose to welcome these men into His family. The Father chose to welcome these men, and us, to be His children.
While showing the new relationship with His disciples, it also shows us Jesus’ kind and forgiving heart. He did not hold what they had done against them, but instead forgave, even before they asked for it. He desired a close relationship with them. And He desires that same relationship with us.
As Easter approaches, spend some time meditating on the personal relationship you have with God. This is only possible because of His work on the cross. Before that the best one could hope for was to be His friend. Now you can be part of His very own family. Happy Resurrection Day!