In the earliest chapters of the Bible, we read about the first murder of a human being. Cain developed a dislike for his brother, Abel. Things escalated. Cain’s dislike turned to anger and evil.
Then Cain invited Abel out into the field, and killed him. How does God respond?
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’”
“‘I don’t know,’ he replied, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:8,9)
If you’re responsible for someone and you’re asked by your parent or your boss what’s going on with that person or where they’re at and you say you don’t know, that’s not good. But if you follow it up by saying you really don’t care, that’s a lot worse!
So the Lord God thunders at Cain, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). Maybe Cain can let it go, but God can’t. There has been an injustice. A murder. God’s ears and heart are provoked. He can’t just close his eyes and think positive thoughts. He can’t just say, “I’m not responsible for Abel,” like Cain just did.
More than that, with undeserved mercy the Lord responds to Cain. The Lord takes up responsibility for this murderer, in ways that keep others same from him and also keep him safe from others. The Lord becomes Cain’s keeper.
And he still does this today. The Lord God shows mercy on murderers, and on the rest of us who haven’t committed murder, except there are those times we really haven’t cared about people, times we’ve hurt people, or both. God can’t let that go. Justice cries out.
So God carries out justice, just not on us. Like he did for Cain, God responds to murderers and to our lack of caring with mercy and forgiveness. How? Blood.
The blood of Jesus Christ cries out, “Father, forgive them.” The blood of Jesus Christ spilled onto the ground beneath the cross. It painted this entire earth, once and for all, with the punishment for sin that God’s justice demands. Jesus became your brother, not to kill you but to save you.
The Bible says that Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
Believe in Jesus, your strong and saving brother who rose from the dead. He is your brother. His death puts to death your hate, your anger, and your indifference. His resurrection brings to life your love, your peace and kindness, your caring and compassion.
Now, where is your brother? Your Abel? The person Jesus wants you to help?
Staying at home now for over a year and feeling disconnected, growing in the womb of a young lady considering an abortion, sitting next to you at the doctor’s office. A classmate, a roommate. The new kid on the team, a hungry kid in the community, the elderly neighbor, the lost soul you’ll meet this weekend, the person who finds your church online because you helped fund an improved church website. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).
Say it with me, “I am my brother’s keeper.”
PRAYER: Let your forgiving blood cry to the heavens and to the corners of my heart, dear Jesus. Heavenly Father, accept your Son’s blood on my behalf. Lead me, I pray, in the way of love and forgiveness, and open my eyes to those near and far who need another. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Slow down, and use the PRAY acronym.
- Praise (tell God what you appreciate about Jesus being your brother)
- Repent (tell God about your sins, trust in his promises of forgiveness)
- Ask (“Where is my brother?” Open your heart and eyes to better see the people God wants you to help)
- Yield (talk to God about the next step after you say “Amen,” how you want faith to lead the way, how you are willing to be part of his answer and see it develop for your good)