The Pattern for Brotherhood
IT WAS a beautiful, warm night in the spring of 33 C.E. A small group of men gathered in Jerusalem around a table set for a meal. Their leader was Jesus Christ, a man of 33 years, kindly, purposeful and dignified. He was giving his followers vital instructions, for this group was the first nucleus of a real brotherhood of mankind.
The spirit of the group was warm and loving. Although Jesus knew that his death was near, he was not concerned about himself. Instead, he calmly and lovingly took advantage of this last evening meal with his disciples to encourage and instruct them.—John chaps. 13 to 17.
Humility and Service
Jesus often taught by actions as well as by words. On this occasion he astounded his disciples by suddenly taking a basin of water and a towel and washing the feet of each one!
However, Peter objected, saying: “You will certainly never wash my feet.” But Jesus corrected him, washed the feet of the faithful apostles, and then explained: “I set the pattern for you.”—John 13:8, 15.
Yes, Jesus was setting the pattern of true brotherhood: a humble, loving spirit, and a willingness to serve without partiality, no matter how menial or unpleasant the task might be.—John 13:1-17.
Love and Unity
What was Jesus’ main theme in his discussion with his disciples that night? It was love, genuine brotherly love, the mark of the real brotherhood of man. As Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) That is the decisive test of true religion.
Do the Churches of Christendom pass that test? Do the other religions of this world? No, not at all. How can they when they encourage their members to kill one another in “Caesar’s” nationalistic wars?
True love creates unity, both in families and in communities. So, logically, unity was another theme Jesus used that memorable night. He prayed that his disciples might “be one.” (John 17:11, 20, 21) Later, the apostle Paul similarly wrote: “Clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Col. 3:14) Yes, a true brotherhood must be united.
On this score, how wretched Christendom’s condition is! Why, there are at least 4,000 Churches and sects in South Africa alone, which claim to be very religious! The mere fact that Christendom is not a brotherhood, but, instead, is shockingly divided, is proof that it is not Christian. That is why all who claim to be Christian should think very seriously about Jesus’ warning: “A house divided against itself falls.”—Luke 11:17.
Who Controls the Brotherhood?
However, you may say: ‘All this talk about humility, love and unity sounds fine. But who is to control such a brotherhood?’ That is a valid question.
Since a brotherhood, including of course sisters, is a “family,” there must be a “father” able to exercise complete control and win the loving respect of his “children.” But who? A Caesar? A Hitler? A Stalin? A pope? The results of control by such human “fathers” speak for themselves. As the Bible points out: “It does not belong to man . . . to direct his step.”—Jer. 10:23.
Hence, the “Father” of a true brotherhood must be a heavenly one—Almighty God. Recognizing and being subject to this Father is absolutely essential to becoming a true brother or sister.
There is nothing illogical about this. Although God is invisible, so are many powerful forces such as gravity or electricity that produce visible results. All the beautiful and amazingly complex things around us, from galaxies to atoms, all the delicate, intricate parts of our bodies, such as the eyes with which you are reading these words, declare the existence of a Maker with infinite power and wisdom.—Ps. 19:1, 2; 139:14.
Amplifying the voice of creation a thousandfold is the voice of the Bible. Its inspired prophecies have come true, or are in course of fulfillment now. It has a magnificent message of real hope for today, as it reveals the heavenly Father’s purpose and goodness.
Since man can guide a craft a thousand million* miles out in space, surely it is a simple matter for God Almighty to guide his servants on earth. And he has powerful invisible forces at his command—such as his active force, or holy spirit—compared to which man’s puny strength is nothing.
Failing to recognize and be humbly subject to the Father, whose name is Jehovah, is the main reason why so many attempts at forming a true brotherhood have failed. In much of Christendom as in other religions, paternal honor, in a spiritual sense, has been diverted from God to men.
To come to know and really love and be loved by both Father and Son is the way to become a “brother” or “sister,” and is also the way to everlasting life. As Jesus said to his brothers that historic night: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Earth’s New Ruler
Some might ask: ‘Did Jesus actually refer to his humble disciples as “brothers”?’ Yes. One day, when Jesus was speaking to a group, someone told him that his mother and fleshly brothers wanted to see him. He replied: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Extending his hand toward his disciples, he said: “Look! My mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”—Matt. 12:46-50.
So Christ is the “head brother,” as it were, in the universal brotherhood, He is the one through whom God ransoms mankind from slavery to sin and death.—Matt. 20:28.
However, Jesus’ vital role now is far greater than when he was on earth. He is now earth’s new ruler! No, not the ruler of this decaying old world, which is actually ruled by Satan the Devil, for Jesus declared: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”—John 18:36; Luke 4:5-8.
The Kingdom is the government of God for which Jesus taught his followers to pray when he said: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:10) It is the main theme of the whole Bible, and Christ’s principal teaching.
Despite these facts, the Kingdom government is rarely mentioned by church leaders. Historian H. G. Wells called attention to this, writing: “Remarkable is the enormous prominence given by Jesus to the teaching of what he called the Kingdom of Heaven, and its comparative insignificance in the procedure and teaching of most of the Christian churches.”
God’s heavenly government, with Christ as ruler, will shortly cleanse the earth of all corruption and evil, putting an end to all present governments of men. The prophet Daniel foretold this, saying: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. . . . It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [of this world], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Dan. 2:44.
That takes place at “the end of the world,” when “the war of the great day of God the Almighty”—Armageddon—is fought. (Isa. 34:2; Rev. 16:14-16) But will all mankind be destroyed? No, for the inspired psalmist answers: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. . . . the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:9-11.
Who are these “meek ones” who are “hoping in Jehovah”? They make up the true brotherhood of mankind who will survive Armageddon and enjoy paradise when it is reestablished on this earth under God’s government, when His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.—Rev. 7:9-17.
Is this not a glorious prospect? What a privilege it will be to live under a world ruler like Christ—so kind and humble, so just and merciful, so understanding of mankind, since he knows us so well! And how different he will be from the Machiavellian school of politicians ruling today! How pleasant to live and serve with a worldwide family of brothers and sisters and to enjoy “exquisite delight in the abundance of peace”!
However, perhaps you are thinking: ‘But does such a true brotherhood really exist today? Does it really work? If so, who constitute it? Where can I find them?’
Voyager I, a U.S. spacecraft, was guided accurately around the planet Saturn nearly a thousand million miles away.
[Picture on page 9]
The early nucleus of the true brotherhood