Being Brothers of Christ

Easter 1 Friday

Matthew 28:7-10

“[The angel said to the women:] “And go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.” So they left the tomb quickly in fear and great joy and ran to proclaim it to his disciples. And as they went to proclaim it to his disciples, look, Jesus met them and said: “Greetings!” And they came to him and grasped his feet and fell prostrate before him. Then Jesus said to them: “Fear not! Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.””

 

Christ not only tells his disciples not to fear. He makes this comfort even greater and more glorious. For he says, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me,” or, as John recounts it in John 20:17 that Christ said to Mary: “Go to my brothers and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.” This is what can be called preaching in a comforting manner when he calls his disciples “brothers.” Such title is nothing special among men. For when one calls the other his brother, then such title brings nothing with it except an advantage in terms of money and friendship. But when Christ, who is God’s Son, calls us brothers, then it first is an excellent, lofty, and ineffable title. For when he calls us brothers, he will also have to share with us and will not keep the inheritance he has for himself but make it common to us all. For this is how we always must grant the Lord Christ that does not use such title only for appearance’s sake, as the world often does where one often writes to the other, “Dear brother,” while he is his worst enemy in his heart, wishing him only the worst. But if Christ calls us brothers, he wholeheartedly means to be our brother and to consider us his brothers and to deal with us as with brothers. Now, how did the apostles come to such honor? Did they earn such title by running away from him shamefully, by denying him, and by losing all hope that he should live again and institute his kingdom? Such behavior should have given the Lord cause to consider them his enemies, not his brothers. But, as has been said earlier, he wants to deal with poor sinners and wants poor sinners to receive his resurrection and take comfort in it. Otherwise, he would not call his disciples brothers in truth since they treated him so badly and did not deserve such title – just as we do not deserve it, since we, too, are poor sinners, but still are to accept this title. Just so Christ commands all Christians to pray by saying: “Our Father who art in heaven…” For if we call God in heaven “Father,” we must be Christ’s brothers, as he says in John 20:17: “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” The only difference is that Christ is for himself natural and eternal Son of God, while we come to this honor through Christ, since he died for us and rose for our best so that we become God’s children through faith in Christ, adopted children, not born children, as Paul distinguishes it. Now, this word that Christ calls his disciples brothers is the true absolution by which he sets them free from their sins. They should forget them and fear them no more. For Christ evidently has no sin. Now, if the disciples are to be his brothers, they also must have no sin. Otherwise, Christ would have an advantage in the inheritance and would not really be our brother. But since he says that we are his brothers, it follows that we have the same inheritance.

 

St. Louis ed., 13.1:522-524.

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