I have an older brother, and when we were kids, Rob possessed the very useful talent of always appearing to be completely innocent. No matter what mischief we had gotten into together, when we were caught, I would get in trouble and he would somehow get out of it. I guess he just had an innocent face – and he must’ve been smarter than I was since I would always be the one caught holding the evidence of our misbehavior. At least, that’s how I remember it…
Can you imagine having a brother like Jesus? Of course, certain schools of thought insist that, when the Bible says “brother” or “sister” it means something more like “cousin,” but it’s actually pretty clear that Jesus’ mother Mary and her husband Joseph had other children. Jesus had siblings.
So think about this: how rotten would it have been to have JESUS for a brother – someone who was actually perfect? The Bible doesn’t give us much detail about His childhood, so this would fall into the category of speculation, but I imagine the others got really tired of hearing “Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus?” That must have been really, really irritating.
But that is what we are all called to do: to be like Jesus – or as Paul puts it in Romans 8:29, “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”
What does it mean to “be like Jesus?” It doesn’t just mean being nicer to everyone, or somehow achieving moral perfection. In Luke 9:22-24, Jesus clarifies what this would look like:
And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (NIV 1984)
If I think that “being like Jesus” just means making a few small adjustments to my way of life, I’m deceiving myself. “Being like Jesus” means denying myself and taking up my cross. It means choosing to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). It means facing rejection and opposition because of my association with Christ.
Why can’t we all just be a little more like Jesus? Easier said than done.