“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” John 20:15-17
What are we to Jesus, and what is Jesus to us? Let us consider three ways the scriptures express our being related (joined or united) to Jesus Christ, (Brethren, His Body and His Bride).
Brethren: Jesus identified Himself with us in our fallen condition, was made sin for us and died in the place of the whole ruined old creation, that He might bring many sons to glory.
Why did Jesus say, “touch me not” to Mary? Consider this, He was to be the first fruit unto God of a new creation. God the Father was to receive the first enjoyment from His Son and the victory won at the cross. Oh, what a great joy that return of his Son to heaven must have been. It is evident that after Jesus ascended to the Father, He then returned and revealed Himself to His brethren as was recorded in Luke 24:39, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”
“GO TO MY BRETHREN:” It seems that Jesus had partially fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22:22, quoted in Hebrews 2:12. He who has provided for our sanctification and is not ashamed to call us brethren, says, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” It is certainly a joy for holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, to consider Him today. For He is the one who has made it all possible. Thank God, we, being born again, are members of God’s family. This is such a good “brotherhood.” I am glad to be part of the family of God. This is indeed a membership worthy of hearty participation! This is “the” brotherhood recognized by God. Let us enjoy the closeness in which we may partake with Him and His brethren.
As His brethren in the spirit, men may also experience being disciples, followers and friends. Paul reminds us, “God is faithful, by whom ye (we) were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul prayed for us unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family of God in heaven and earth is named.
HIS FOLLOWERS: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” – Jn. 8:12. They who follow Jesus may enjoy an illuminated path on a uniting course. The Word was spoken, “Let there be light;” “The Word was made flesh.” Jesus Christ is the illuminator of man. Thank God for the illuminating power of the Scriptures. Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Read Ps. 16:11 & Prov. 4:18.
Jesus provided for the unity of this brotherhood. He prayed for it and prayed for its reality in the lives of His brethren. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice…I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” -Jn. 10:4,15-16. Also Jn. 17:20-21.
Wholehearted participation in this brotherhood promises an eternally rewarding companionship. “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands. For my names sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” – Mt. 19:29. This total commitment does not teach us to mistreat, neglect, nor forget our loved ones. Yet love for Jesus must be predominate in all dealings during this earthly sojourn. There is a full inheritance for those who let nothing between, or hinder our closest relations with Him. Apostle Paul said in essence, “He is worth everything to me.” Some follow the Lamb from afar, some go a little farther, and praise God, some go on all the way.
HIS FRIENDS: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” Prov. 18:24. Jesus is that kind of friend. We wonder at Him as we consider the great distance He covered to make us friends of God. Just think of how He showed Himself friendly: He laid down His Life for His enemies. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” Prov. 17:17. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not…” Prov.
There are friends of value. John called Himself “a friend of the bridegroom.” Abraham was called a friend of God. Thank God that we are able to make the choice today and not be an enemy of the cross of Christ, James wrote, “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” In Christian brotherhood we often find spiritual friendship far better than natural kinship. I greatly appreciate Christian brotherhood, but thank God, we find that there is mentioned in scripture a closer, more tightly knit union than brethren.
HIS BODY: which we call a mystical body, is indeed an amazing body, made up of those that believe upon Jesus Christ as their Savior during this Church Age. Col. 3:15, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Rom. 12:4-5, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
The scripture makes it very clear how we (children of God) have been bought into this relationship. This is a supernatural work, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…Now ye are the body of
Christ, and members in particular” I Cor. 12:13,27. Nothing about this membership is man-made, man could not plan, nor reason out, nor develop such a marvelous organism. This was not meant to be organized, managed, or manipulated by humanity. The natural bodily functions call for harmonious relations, while operating under the guidance of its head. So, also, the body of Christ has only one true head, Jesus Christ. His body is the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. He would impress upon every member of His body that each of us are very special and important to Him. For any individual assembly to function the way it was intended, each one is to fulfill their place. We are to bless and be a benefit to one another – Eph. 4:4,5,12-16. God’s Word solemnly entreats us each to be faithful in our place.
The Apostle faithfully warns us of another grave danger, that brings divisions. Col. 2:18-19, “Let no man beguile you of your reward…not holding the head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” We must honor our head, and be totally dependant, looking to Him as the author and finisher of our faith. Our sufficient head hates nicolaitanism. The Holy Spirit brings forth in each of us individually, that virgin characteristic that would hold Him alone personally as our head. This is essential to closer relations with Him.
The last part of this message “Intimate Relations” is Christ’s Bride and it will be in the next issue, September – Glorious Gospel.