February 18. Romans 8:28-29 Part 1: Jesus, the Firstborn Among Many Brothers.

Romans 8:28-29. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

We come now to what William Newell calls “The Great Marvel,” Romans 8:28-29. Of course, everything we write about here at To Live is Christ is about our union with Christ. But every once in a while we come to a scripture that is so clearly descriptive of this union that we must take time to mine the depths of the truths contained therein. Therefore, we will spend the next few days exploring these two glorious verses from back to front.

in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Let’s remember where we’ve been in Romans so far.

  • Ch. 5 -Our justification through Christ’s blood, forgiveness of our sins.
  • Ch.6 – Our union with Christ in his death to sin.
  • Ch. 7 – Our union with Christ in his death to law and our struggle to fight against sin and law due to remaining indwelling sin (the flesh).
  • Ch. 8:1-27 – Our position in the Spirit and our condition of walking in the Spirit in the midst of great suffering.

And now Romans 8:28-29 – God’s victorious saving work in our lives. A work that is already done and that nothing in the universe can stop. All things lead to his glorious end.

But what is that end? What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? Why are we saved? Why did Jesus come? Why the cross? Why the resurrection?

The final answer – so that God can have a family. So that Jesus can have brothers and sisters. So that God can glorify Jesus as the firstborn.

This is the great purpose of all of redemptive history. It’s why Adam and Eve were created. It’s what God predicted in Genesis 3:15. It’s why Noah survived the flood. It’s why God called Abraham out of Ur. It’s why the Red Sea was split open. It’s why David was crowned king. It’s why Jesus was born. Why he lived. Why he died. Why he rose again. Why he indwells us. It’s everything.

God wants to be our God, and he wants us to be his people, his family.

Genesis 17:8. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

Exodus 6:7. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God,

Leviticus 26:12. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.

2 Samuel 7:14. I will be to [David’s son] a father, and he shall be to me a son.

Hebrews 8:10. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

We will live forever as the brothers and sisters of Jesus. The adopted siblings, yes. But also the born siblings, complete with his DNA. His attributes. His character. His likeness (but now we’re getting ahead of ourselves).

Christ will live forever as the preeminent oldest brother of a whole new race. A resurrected race. And, if we are in Christ, we are part of that race. The family of God. A family tree that God is grafting together. A family of forgiven sinners. A family of believers. A heritage of misfits and outcasts, of failures and addicts, and of recovering Pharisees. All heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ to the glory of God our Father.

Are you part of this family tree? Is Jesus your big brother? Is God your Abba Father?

Just for fun…imagine drawing out Jesus’ spiritual family tree.


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