Is Jesus our brother or our father? Sorry if that’s a weird question.
You know what preacher joke I dislike the most? When the preacher talks about Creation and says, “So the Father was just playing catch with His Son and the Spirit was like, ‘Hey let’s make something’ and Jesus was like ‘Yeah daddy I’m tired of playing catch for eternity –” and yeah. It’s cute, but it’s also kind of dumb and I’m pretty sure it’s racist (I use the race card at will).
Seriously though: the idea of the Holy Trinity as Family is something I’ve been thinking about for a while — that’s what it’s like to hang out with me — and I’m no closer to it than discovering how to divide by zero. The only conclusion I can draw is that the Bible uses the analogy of family to illustrate what we can’t comprehend. At the same time, God made people into “families” because it also reflects His own nature.
Let’s go through some theology here —
The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is the absolute best visual of the Trinity: you have the Father who wants what’s best for his kids and he has given his whole life for them. The rebellious son and the religious son are you and me. The Father’s heart of compassion is all Holy Spirit. The slain fatted calf is the slain Lamb of God. Jesus is the True Elder Brother who brings us into the family of His Father, and we lost orphans are adopted into an eternal union with the best family of all time.
Later in Luke 20, Jesus seals the parable of the Prodigal Son by talking about a vineyard owner who rented out his farm to some wicked tenants. They won’t pay out, so finally the vineyard owner sends his own son to collect — but the tenants kill the son. This is what we have done.
While this can get a little sticky, Jesus is like our Older Brother who is bringing us back home to the Father. He gives us access to the Father with his own life, and this is a plan that was set in motion before the beginning of time. Jesus was not unwillingly crushed: he did it of his own accord, for he had the power to lay down his life and raise it up again. But he did go through with the horror of the cross for us.
In some mysterious unexplainable way, the Trinity is like the perfect family that we’re all looking for. When Christianity is recited as a “belief system” with these complex doctrines and systematic theology, we can easily lose the simple awe of a brother who fights for us and a Father who loves us. Read the New Testament with that sort of lens — that Jesus is the brother who calls his disciples to a brand new family. C.S. Lewis calls it an invitation to the Divine Dance.
People don’t want religion: they want a Father. Especially a dad who actually wants to enjoy His kids, hang out with them, and have a blast. That’s why it’s a joy to serve God: because we get to have God.
In the end, real faith is about intimacy with the Father and a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s not new to you, but very few people actually pray as if they’re sitting in their daddy’s lap, cradled in the Father’s arms. Not many of us pray acknowledging that Jesus intercedes for us on our behalf while the Holy Spirit gives us words we didn’t know to speak and shapes our hearts to be like Christ.
Your new identity is a son and daughter of God because Jesus made it possible. In the famous words of a certain Italian mobster, You’re family now.
Check out Mark Driscoll’s sermon on the Prodigal Son, where he discusses the Trinity Family dynamic.