My big brother, Kevin, was born with a mental disability, but there were a few ways in which he was like every good Memphis boy:

1) you did not stand between him and a pulled pork sandwich, and

2) you did not mess with his little sister.

From the day I was born, Kevin was my guardian, my protector, my righteous defender – an equal opportunity hater of all who would do me harm. I fondly remember several occasions in which I, possibly deserving to be punished for some heinous slight and trivial misdeed, got off scot-free because Kevin rose up in outrage and forbade it.

What he lacked in logic, he more than made up for in love. Well, that, and a good five inches and 50 lbs on each of my parents.

Kevin was our family’s firstborn. That’s what Paul calls Jesus in Colossians 1:15: — “the firstborn of all creation.”

Jesus is not firstborn in the literal sense, like my brother. He was not born or created at all (one of the great false teachings of the early church); He exists co-eternally with the Father – Alpha and Omega, no beginning and no end.

Rather, Paul calls Jesus the firstborn in the sense of ancient Jewish law and custom – in rights and in place.

The firstborn has privilege above all who will come after him. He has authority and honor. He has charge of the inheritance, and takes care of the other sons and daughters. He is the agent of his father — the most privileged one.

The firstborn has the best seat at the table, and no one has the authority to take it away.

Except himself.

Jesus had not only the best seat at the table, but the only seat. There were no other sisters and brothers, because He alone was righteous and holy enough to dine at the feast of our God.

Only He could eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and live.

Only He could drink the cup.

So Christ rose from His seat at the table to show us compassion. He laid aside his firstborn rights for a time to adopt us as sons and daughters of God.

He had every right to keep all the treasure and riches and knowledge of the inheritance of God to Himself, but instead died to obtain it for us.

This eternal Firstborn, your big Brother, stepped down from His table and into your fight.

When others speak ill of us, He defends us.

When others betray us, He accepts us.

When our hearts condemn us, He frees us.

Where we are hungry for love or comfort, He fills us.

Where we are poor in thought or word or deed — taking loans out with our heart or our lips we cannot pay — His riches cancel our debts.

He guards our hearts, lifts our heads, jealously protects our adoption as His sisters and brothers, and, through His grace, defies the rules of this world that would punish our spirits.

We must not remain as orphans, starving on our crumbs of doubt and fear and self-repair, when we know the One at the head of the table.

The Firstborn has saved you a seat.

Go you today, and sit in it.

Read the next post in The Colossians Project.

featured image via Kinfolk and the West Elm blog