History has no shortage of famous brothers.
Cain and Able. John, Bobby and Ted Kennedy. Jesse and Frank James. Joel and Ethan Coen. Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Marx Brothers. The Ringling Brothers. The list goes on and on.
Still, it only just occurred to me that the first disciples of Christ were brothers: Simon and Andrew.
Of course, Simon becomes Peter—the rock on which Jesus builds the church. So maybe Andrew just gets lost in the shuffle. Like Tommie Aaron, who shares in the major league record for most home runs ever hit by brothers (768).
But after Peter and Andrew… the next two called by Christ were also brothers: James and John.
And as you read through the Gospels, it becomes clear that Peter, Andrew, James and John were key guys – the inner ring of a small, select group of followers. These brothers climbed the mountain and witnessed the transfiguration, tussled for attention, prayed in Gethsemane and followed Christ through the trials all the way to his death on the cross… then ran to the tomb three days later.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that those called upon to follow Christ and spread the good news were brothers. We know for sure that there were times of doubt, fear and disbelief for these men. There were moments when they wanted to turn their back on God. When persecution and ridicule ran high. When it simply was too tough to believe. And even more difficult to walk in his footsteps.
And yet, they persevered.
Who else but a brother could convince you trust your heart?
Who else but a brother could reassure you in times of darkness?
Who else but a brother could kick you in the ass – and set you straight?
You see, Peter, Andrews, James and John shared a life before Christ. They shared experiences. Perspectives. Through their words, they could validate, strengthen and challenge each other like no other.
Some days I wonder, how much more could I do for Christ if my two brothers walked beside me. Could they reassure me, provide the strength and the nudges (and kicks) I so desperately need to be the man I know I could be? In my moments of doubt, fear and disbelief, could they grab me by the shoulder and whisper in my ear: Brother, we have grown up together... fruit of the same womb... be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be a man of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
I don’t know.
For unlike Peter, Andrew, James and John… I walk without my brothers.
But I do not walk alone. There’s TK, Stephen, Francisco, Dave, Mike, Kris, Dan, Kevin, Bill, Scott, Norbert, Derek, Perry, Rich. Bob and Byron, to name a few. These are my brothers. We can be honest, and brutal, and forgiving, and a pain in the ass when necessary. We look out for one another. Brothers, for sure.
But… perhaps… not entirely the same.