MY MOTHER AND MY BRETHREN
"My mother and my brethren." Matt 12:49
How can I have a higher privilege than this? When I consider my own need, and the fullness and worth of a Savior for me, my relationships to him become the most important of my being. When I consider the dignity of his nature, his exalted power and excellence, in connection with my own unworthiness and guilt--the extent of his condescension and love to me seems amazing. When I realize the sufferings he has borne, and the death he has been willing to endure for me, and the glory which he has thus obtained and prepared for me--me so wretched and so vile--his compassion and tenderness are beyond my conception. And yet he brings his disciples, sinful as they are, into the most tender and permanent relationships to himself. He calls them his mother and his brethren.
How he here cuts off the vain idea of exalting his actual mother to a place of worship! Had it been designed that she should be venerated as an object of prayer, would he thus have placed her upon the common level of all his disciples? I can worship none besides Jesus. All his chosen, redeemed, sanctified flock, are as mothers and brethren to him; the dearest objects of his affection--the nearest relationships in his heavenly household. He alone is the one to whom prayer is to be made. Am I in this glorious, blessed relationship to my Savior?
1. Then Jesus is the object of the most tender affection to me. No relationship can express affection more tenderly--not the affection of passion or desire, but the affection of pure and respectful love. Why he has brought me into this relationship to himself I cannot now tell. His own choice has done it, for reasons wholly his own. How he has done it I am told--by taking my condemnation on himself, and procuring my pardon--by removing my hostility by his own Spirit, and leading me into cordial union with him. He thus adopted me as a child of God, and made me one with himself, and then gave me the spirit of adoption, and taught me to improve and enjoy the privilege thus bestowed. Our relationship is now one of the tenderest affection.
I know that he loves me. I could not say with truth that I do not love him. But I long to love him more. He ought to be personally very dear to me. I should ever esteem him a living friend--one who is ever with me--whose feelings towards me are most tender and kind. Such will I ever try to be to him--not believing or obeying merely in regard to his word or command, but loving him as the dearest object of my heart, feeling willing to give up everything or all things for his sake.
2. Then my conduct towards him ought to be perfectly frank and straightforward. I love to read that expression, his apostles "returned," and "told him all that they had done." Why should I not always do so? He knows it all before I tell him. I can give him no information. But he loves to have me thus deal with him. It is happy for my own heart, to be free in all my dealings with him. I know that I do many things which I may well be ashamed to tell him. But the very habit of telling him will restrain me. Why should I ever offend him? Why should I ever wander from him? I cannot be too minute in laying myself open before him. I should pour out my heart before him. He understands all my infirmities. He knows I am made of. He accepts me according to that which I have, and not according to that which I have not. He will correct me, but not in his anger. Let me learn to consult him, to talk with him face to face, as a friend. Thus acknowledging my offences, and yielding myself to him freely, I shall act consistently with this intimate and blessed relationship.
3. Then I should have entire confidence in his feelings and plans towards me. A mother and brethren! I know what feelings of tenderness I have towards my mother and brethren. Why has he not the same towards me? I ought never to doubt it. His love to me has been too thoroughly proved and manifested, to allow any doubts. He can do me no wrong and no harm. I know he has infinite power. He will exercise it according to his own wisdom; but it must be for my welfare, my happiness. It cannot be otherwise. In this I will confide. Is there any presumption in trusting in him? How can there be? Ought I not to put my whole trust in him? Ought I not to exercise entire faith? And what is that but perfect confidence? Confidence in his outward care; confidence in his full salvation; confidence in all his promises; confidence in his unceasing protection and defense. Unlimited power, unbounded wisdom, unchanging love! In these I may confide perfectly. And all this my Savior has for me. As one of his family, I may repose my perfect confidence there.
4. I ought to be very jealous for his honor. How earnest should I be in maintaining his authority, the influence of his gospel! I could not hear reproaches upon my mother. How can I be one of the Savior's family, and be heedless when he is despised, or his name reproached? How can I be ashamed to confess him--to acknowledge my relationship to him? How can I refuse to maintain his cause and his honor among men? Surely I cannot associate with those who despise him, or deny his dignity or his rights. He depends upon those thus connected with him, to maintain his honor. Ah, let me never be lacking to him. Many of my brethren in Christ have not counted their lives dear unto them, in maintaining his word. I will never deny him, though Popery, or Infidelity, or worldliness, assail and persecute him. I will stand by his sacred cause. If he will strengthen me, I am ready to give up all for him.
5. Such intimate affection, frankness in habitual communion, confidence in his love, and jealousy for his honor, become the mother and brethren of Christ. By this title, and by these attributes, would I love to be distinguished. Whoever else I love, let me love Christ still more! Then will he own me as his in everlasting joy!
There God's adopted sons
Cease from their earthly strife;
Rejoicing, sit on dazzling thrones,
And wear the crown of life.
There shines the little flock,
Rich in the Savior's blood,
Who early sought this living Rock,
And fixed their choice on God.