As an Elder Brother I must confess I was never close to my earthly father, especially growing up. He was typical of most fathers at the time-not touchy feely, not very open, a man of few words; but when he spoke, you obeyed because you feared the consequences. Even as a young man working for him, we were never very close. I knew he loved me and had my best interests at heart, but there never was a closeness that some sons enjoy. He was always gone in those important 4-14 years, a traveling salesman. When he was home it was usually in a disciplinary fashion. Mom had had enough of dealing with three and then four rambunctious boys all week long. Friday evening was reckoning time around our house. I loved my Dad, I respected my Dad, I even feared my Dad, but I never felt close to my Dad.
Jonathon must have had that type of relationship with his father Saul. Saul had great responsibilities leading Israel, but he was a poor father. He was even a poor King. One day (1 Sam 14) Jonathon did a typical Elder Brother thing. He went with his armor bearer and tackled a guardpost of Philistines deep in Israeli territory. They killed as many as 20 men, causing the other Philistines to think an army was upon them. King Saul was told what was going on and ordered an assault. The Philistines were in disarray and suffered heavy casualties. Saul was so focused on complete victory that he ordered his soldiers to not eat or drink anything until all the Philistines were killed. His men were weak from hunger and thirst. Jonathon, unaware of the command, dipped his spear in some honey and was instantly energized after eating it. When told of the command of his father, he said the order was nonsense.
King Saul inquired of the Lord to get further military instructions (at least he was still trying to follow the Lord at this point). No Word from God came. He was upset and sought to find out the cause. Even if it was his own son, Jonathon, the perpetrator would be killed. The answer came back that Jonathon was indeed the cause, and Saul ordered him KILLED! The people intervened and Jonathon was spared. Some dad eh? All mine ever did was spank me!
Imagine how difficult it would be for Jonathon to get close to that kind of father. Selfish, conceited, unloving, such was King Saul. Fortunately, as a young teenager my life was influenced by a Divine Father who desired a close relationship with me. I discovered He is the most loving Father anyone could want. We all need to be loved, to have close friends, even us Elder Brother types.
When Jesus walked this earth, people were drawn to Him, but only those who had a relationship with Him were changed. Mark 6:56 reveals why: “as many as touched (háptomai) him were made whole.” We think that the tactile touch was all it took, but the word haptomai means much more than a physical touch. This “TOUCH” means that “the handling of an object was done in such a manner as to exert a modifying influence upon it or upon oneself”.
I experienced such a TOUCH in times of reading my Father’s Word, in times of praying with my Father. Those ‘touches” exerted a modifying influence upon me, upon my heart.
When I was 19, my earthly father touched me with a confession. With tears in his eyes he told me that God had given him a second chance, and he asked my forgiveness for not being around when I was growing up. I remember the converstaion as if it was yesterday.
Such is this God, this Divine Father that loves us so much. When He touches our heart, we are never the same. That touch will open our hearts to those around us, those in our care. When God touches us with His Love and Forgiveness, it gives us the ability to Love others!
Elder Brothers need to be touched, need to have our hearts opened up to the needs of those around us. The Elder Brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son kept his heart closed, resisting the touch of his father. The younger brother had nowhere to go, so he eagerly accepted the touch and kisses of his father.
Jonathon met a younger brother named David, and their souls became knit together. Jonathon gave everything he had to care for David. He was the Elder Brother that David needed when everyone else was against David. Jonathon was even the target of his father’s own spear because of his love for David. The time came for David to go into hiding because it was obvious King Saul wanted him dead. Jonathon and David met secretly and said their goodbyes, “Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.” (1 Sam 20:41)
Have you been touched by your earthly father? Have you been touched by your Heavenly Father? Is there a younger brother who has been touched by you? Will there be tears when you say goodbye?
My dad went to be with God in 1995 at the age of 63. In typical Elder Brother fashion I was the strong one during the funeral and the days following. I could not cry. I drove down to my Mom and Dad’s home in Destin Fl, to get some things of my dad. While I was there, trying on some of his clothes, it finally hit me. I broke down and wept and wept and wept. I don’t know how long, I only know I had never wept like that before. It was at that time I renewed my commitment to my Divine Father to serve Him and to answer the call to preach that He had given me 24 years earlier.
Dad, thanks for touching me with your life, thanks for opening my heart to serving the younger brothers around me. Your touch continues to be upon my life all these years later. When I preach, when I teach, when I serve, I know it is your touch that is by my side.
Father: Thank you for those who touch our lives. Would you open our hearts to be sensitive to the needs of all those around us. Would you allow us Elder Brothers to touch you and be made whole!