Matins Devotion: February 21, 2023
In our reading from St. John today, Jesus has just driven away many of His followers by telling them they must eat His flesh and drink His blood if they wish to have eternal life. And in this moment, our Lord finds himself surrounded by His flesh-and-blood brothers, brothers whose lips are spewing mockery. Jesus doesn’t want to go to Judea at this moment because the powers-that-be wish Him dead, and his brothers respond by essentially saying “hey, why don’t you give it a shot anyway. Surely if you are what you say you are, things will turn out ok.”
On the one hand, their hatred of Jesus is almost incomprehensible. This is your brother, the Son of your mother, the Savior of the world, and you want him dead? It’s absolute madness. But on the other hand, it makes all the sense in the world. Because this hostility that Christ’s brothers have for Him is just the hostility all men have for Christ boiled down to its essence.
If you grew up hearing that your brother was the rightful heir to David’s throne and that you therefore weren’t, you would have hated him. If you grew up hearing that your brother was going to save not only His people from their sins, but save you from your sins, you would been smothered on the constant reminder that you needed to be saved, and so you would have hated your brother. If you grew up hearing that your brother was perfect and holy, and every day His perfection and holiness screamed how corrupt and unrighteous you were, you would have hated Him too.
And so, Christ’s brothers hated Him for the same reason that we in our sinful nature hate Christ. We hate Him because we need Him. We hate Him because He dared to draw close to us with all of His divine righteousness and highlight the condemnation we earned. We hate Jesus because He shows us that we have failed to earn the love of God.
But when Christ’s brothers hated Him, He still loved them. Still suffered for them. Still served them by going to the cross and being pierced for their transgressions. And He did the same for us. When we hated our brother, He loved us, cherished us, gave up the blood from His veins and the breath from His lungs to make us His own forever. And now He has. So praise God for the Brother He gave us, the Brother who killed our envy with His mercy, and who slaughtered our hatred with His undying love.