Sibling Rivalry

W-O-W.  That’s my overall impression today after beginning Beth Moore’s James Mercy Triumphs Bible Study.  It has been at least six years since I participated in a formal Bible Study.  Then I started homeschooling, and the clock grew wings and flew right out the window.  I did my own study these past two years, reading the Bible through chronologically, and I’m not going to stop doing that because there is value in looking at the big picture. Every time I read a passage, the words on the page just come alive, and I find new insights.  When I participate in a Beth Moore study, the same thing happens….only it seems that she finds nuances that I never would have noticed on my own.  Well, perhaps in another twenty years or so, I would have noticed them.

Tidbits like this one just bring scripture to life: James likely had a serious case of sibling rivalry going on with Jesus. When you do a study with Beth, be ready to bounce all over the Bible because Beth doesn’t stick to just one book of the Bible.  She digs out context and content from the Bible as a whole.  Now I have an entire movie playing in my head of this scenario in Jesus’ life.

Scene 1.  Dust rises through the air as people scuff their feet, hanging on to every word that comes from Jesus’ mouth.  Stomachs are rumbling.  The people listening in are hungry, and they ask Jesus to perform a miracle.  Why not provide manna from heaven, like Moses?  Jesus reminds them that Moses didn’t provide the manna.  God is the one who provided the manna, and then He confounded everyone around him by comparing himself to that manna.  The people who are taking him literally scowl and move a few steps back when he tells them that they must feed on HIM in order to get to heaven.  He’s trying to tell them that He is the one who will provide spiritual sustenance, but many of these followers don’t see past the “eat my flesh’ and ‘drink my blood’ part.  Some of these people who eat kosher turned tail and ran.  They were so offended with his analogy that they didn’t stick around to figure out what he really meant. (John 6:60-66)

Scene 2.  Jesus is back at home with his half brothers and sisters.  The family is preparing to travel to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, a joyful celebration.  Bags are packed, food is prepared and stored, and the household chores are completed. James and Jesus’ other siblings are seething after the ‘eat my flesh’ speech yesterday.  He’s embarrassed the whole family with his weird nonsense.  In a mocking tone, they tell him that he should go with them to the Feast and give his speeches and perform miracles out where everyone can hear.  It’s obvious they don’t believe that He is who He says He is.  Jesus tells them that it’s just not His time, and he does not go on with the family to the feast. (John 7:1-9)

Scene 3. Jesus is again speaking to a number of people in a crowded house.  The pace is so hectic that he doesn’t even take time to eat.  His family hears about it and tries to intervene.  His own family said, “He is out of his ever-loving mind!”  (Mark 3)

Suddenly I am seeing all sorts of intrigue that I never noticed before….such as sibling rivalry. Can you imagine what it must have been like to have grown up in the same household with the Lord himself?  He started out like all of us…toddling around.  But unlike us, He was perfect.  I’ll bet he slept through the night every night and never once spit up on his mom.  He ate all his broccoli without complaint.  He was obedient to his parents at all times and never had to have his mouth washed out with soap.  He loved everyone, even those who mistreated him.  He made straight A’s and won every game he played.

Talk about an inferiority complex!  Growing up in His shadow must have been tough.  There may have been some resentment among the brothers…perhaps that’s why they taunted and mocked him about making himself public at the festival. But by the end of the story, which is the beginning of OUR story, these mockers had become believers.  James saw his brother crucified, and then He saw him again, very much alive.

I’m looking forward to reading more about the life of James, half-brother to Jesus.

Speaking of brothers and sibling rivalry, of which I’m sure we NEVER felt (ahem), here’s a photo of my own brother with his lovely wife.  This was taken last weekend when they got to attend the Third Day concert.  Not that I’m jealous or anything:

Growing up, we shared goofiness and the sillies.  As the OLDER child, I tried to mother him….er, boss him around.  He is excellent in all areas in which I am not.  He’s the athlete.  I’m the weakling.  He never had to study to make good grades.  I had to chew up my notes and swallow them in order to remember them long enough to make an A on the test.  (Um, not literally, but you get the gist of it, right?)  As he got older, he kept growing…and growing…until he got so tall that my dad had to cut a hole in the roof just so he could join us at the dinner table, whereas I stopped growing when I was five.  Okay, so not really, but I get silly just thinking about my one and only sibling.

We had this game we played when he was little…around three or four years old.  I must have been about eight.  He hid under a blanket, and my mom and I tried to guess what the lump under the blanket was.

“Is it a cat?” I’d ask.  From under the blanket came a distinct, “Mee-owww.”

“Is it a dog?” my mom would ask.  The blanket barked, “Woof-woof!”

“Is it a bird….” and so on.  Until one day we asked, “Is it an elephant?”

Not knowing what sound an elephant made, my then-three-year-old brother paused before saying, in a tentative voice, “Elephant, Elephant?”

We laughed so hard we cried.  Okay, maybe you had to have been there, but I get a smile on my face just thinking about it, and I remember playing the same game with my daughter when she was little.

So…I love my brother.  I was there when my parents brought him home, just as Jesus must have been there when James was brought into the world.  It’s good to know that Jesus knows firsthand all about brotherly love, and I am eager to dig into James to see how that perfect love transformed his life.  It’s also good to know that I got to see Third Day before my brother did.  (Just kidding!)

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