Big Brother

I’m not aware of any jealously on the part of the first grandson when the second grandson was brought into the house. Either the parents said the right things at the right time or the child just wasn’t the jealous type. He did need monitoring to prevent too much kissing and hugging for the newborn’s safety.

As I watched, I remembered the treatment my firstborn gave the younger sibling. At one point the 2 year old helper had dragged the baby out of the bassinet and was an inch away from dropping her to the floor. We were getting our coats on to go out and he was helping. Good catch, Mom. Where’s her coat?

Overall, he accepted the little sister at face value. As she grew, she clearly adored her big brother but preferred to play alone part of the time anyway. When he went to bed and she still had energy to burn, she would look all around for him, breathe a sigh of relief, relax and play. Anytime it became apparent that she had had enough brother love, we would put her in the 36″ square playpen. She would sit motionless in the middle, looking at him while he would nearly break an arm trying to get at her. No animosity, just exuberant affection.

We’re tying up a study of the book of James. There’s a great deal of meat and vegetables in those few chapters, lessons on humility, devotion, faith, pride — all things we conquer again and again. It is widely accepted that James was the half brother of Jesus. Yet, nowhere in his writing does he brag, or relate a story or drop a a name. When the leader asked for a summary of it, I imagined what it was like for James to be the little brother to God In The House. I wonder if James was Mary’s second child. If he was, we have a clue as to how far apart the boys were since the little family fled Bethlehem when Jesus was about 2 years old. Give them time to settle in Nazareth if indeed they weren’t carrying another child back out of Egypt with them and the boys were about as far apart as my two grandsons, 3 years, maybe more, just guessing as I can’t recall how long they were in Egypt.

We are told in scripture in Paul’s inspired writings that Jesus was without sin. I suspect He needed instruction as He grew, but obeyed and didn’t fall into sin. I also believe Mary told Him bedtime stories of the visiting angel, Joseph’s devotion, the star, the shepherds and wise men, the trip to Egypt, so that as He grew and studied, He knew Who He was and what was expected of Him eventually.

But what was it like to grow up in the shadow of that particular big brother? It would be impossible to measure up. Mom never got mad at Jesus but she sure had to have had problems with the rest of them.

When the midwife left and Mary was resting with Baby James in her arms, what went through the mind of Jesus, the pre-schooler? As He knelt down and looked into the baby’s eyes, did the baby smile in recognition?

Brothers. If they raced, if they wrestled, if they tickled, did Jesus let James win? If they talked, did Jesus share his future or just be a big brother? Some signs had to be there somewhere in the house over the years for Mary to confidently command the servants at the wedding to obey Jesus when the wine ran out. How did James and the others react to those signs and to Jesus’ relentless, annoying perfection?

We do know that his siblings considered Him to be crazy during His ministry. We also know that on Golgotha, Mary didn’t yell at anyone to take Him down from the cross because He was just a religious nut. She knew His mission. She stood silently weeping.

Where was James? When Jesus set up her care with the disciple John, that tells me the family was having nothing to do with this whole Son of God routine. Was James at his house, mourning the unjust murder of his crazy, wonderful brother? Was he in the crowd, angry? Crying out? I’d like a close-up of his face that horrible day and compare it to a close-up of his face when after the resurrection, Jesus walked up to him, arms outstretched, alive and glorified.

James wrote his gospel from his own experience. He recognized his pride, his lack of faith, his stubbornness, rejection, sinful tongue, his need for salvation, and worshiped Jesus. I think he got the best bear hug ever.

He recognized his big brother.

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