More Honourable Than His Brethren
Not much is said about Jabez in scripture, but much has been made of his prayer. Probably too much. Whether this is the reason for his commendation by the chronicler, we can’t be sure, but what we do know is that it was never intended to be the catch-all guarantee of physical and material blessing it has become. But I digress.
The commendation of Jabez is remarkable. In the middle of recording the history of Judah’s family tree, the writer breaks off to tell us about a previously unmentioned figure, Jabez, who was ‘more honourable than his brethren’ (1 Ch 4:9, KJV). He was a man who stood apart from his peers in the way that he handled himself. The idea is that he was thought to be worthy of honour due to his personal integrity.
In this way he stands as a comparative type with another man from the tribe of Judah. The Hebrew writer tells us that ‘…our Lord was descended from Judah’ (Heb 7:14, ESV) and of Him it could truly be said that He was more honourable than His brethren. Hebrews also tells us that ‘He had to be made like His brethren’ (Heb 2:17, NASB), and so this Lord’s Day morning, I want to consider how the gospel writers record for us just how more honourable He was than the brethren He was made like. This will underline for us the perfect blend of deity and humanity.
First, He was more honourable in the way He dealt with children. On one occasion the crowds brought their infants to the Lord so that he would ‘put His hands on them, and pray’ (Ma 19:13, KJV), but the disciples (His brethren) rebuked them. You can imagine their thinking: ‘this kingdom business is serious. We can’t waste time on children!’ But how wrong they were. Matthew (one of the disciples and thus a self-indictment) tells us how the Lord responded; ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them’ (Ma 19:14-15, ESV). More honourable than His brethren.
Next, He was more honourable in the way He dealt with crowds. Some find crowds very difficult to manage. They feel overwhelmed and on edge. Maybe this is how the disciples felt when they looked out on a hungry throng of approximately 20,000 (Ma 14:21) and asked Him to ‘send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves” (14:15, ESV). After all, the Lord had withdrawn by boat having heard of the death of His cousin, John the Baptist; why wouldn’t He want some peace? Again, how wrong they were: ‘Bring them here to me’ (14:18, ESV) and ‘took the five loaves, and the two fishes’ (14:19, KJV) and ‘they did all eat, and were filled’ (14:20, KJV). More honourable than His brethren.
Last, He was more honourable in the way He dealt with strangers. As the Lord moved towards Jerusalem and His impending crucifixion He stopped by way of a Samaritan village. An envoy was sent in to prepare some accommodation for Him, but they were turned away, probably on religious grounds. James and John, living up to their sobriquet of the ‘sons of thunder,’ were outraged and decide to return fire with literal fire: ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ (Lk 9:54, NET). One wonders how they could be with Him for three years and think that this would be the desire of His heart! The Lord rebukes them and delivers a lesson in His purpose in coming: ‘the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them’ (9:56, KJV). More honourable than His brethren.
Children, crowds, strangers; He had time for them all. He stopped to place the focus on those on the margins of society. He was not touched by bias, prejudice or favouritism. He is more honourable than His brethren. Perfect man and entirely God.
 The discussion with the woman at the well in John 4 might provide some background as to why this occurred. The Samaritans claimed Mount Gerizim was the place of worship, while the Jews claimed Jerusalem (Jn 4:19-20). Being the time of the feast it is likely that this is a way of informing the reader that Jesus was refused entry to the village because He was a Jew.