[Oct 28]--Family Problems

John 7:1-13

            From the long and public discussion/confrontation in chapter six we turn to a much more intimate scenario. Have you ever wondered about Jesus’ home life, the household in which he grew up? I certainly have. Of course, the vast majority of his life (30 years out of 33) is a complete mystery to us. We suspect that Joseph was dead by the time Jesus started his ministry, since he isn’t mentioned past the time of boyhood. It seems that Mary believed in him, especially since she came to him during the wedding feast in chapter two. But what about his brothers (actually half-brothers)?

            Jesus himself said that a prophet would never be accepted in his hometown, and apparently this extended to his own family. Why is that? Why would a prophet not be accepted among his own family and the other people he grew up with? The answer's found within the question. They grew up with him. They lived with him.

            If you have siblings, did you have one who was the “goody-two-shoes” with your parents? It seemed that the favorite son or daughter could do no wrong, and you could do no right. Of course, any siblings we have are sinners like the rest of us, so they weren’t really perfect. But Jesus was. We know that he subjected himself to his parents’ authority, and he didn’t have to. He never disobeyed them, at least as long as they were following God. He never lied to them, never stole anything from anyone, and never bullied anyone or forced someone to do something for him out of selfish motives. He always put other peoples’ needs before his own, and was always wiling to serve others. So how'd you like to have a brother like that?  Can’t you hear his parents now: “Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus? He never gives us any problems!”

            So how did they respond to Jesus’ ministry? In Mark 3, they came to take him away, because they literally thought he was out of his mind. And in today’s passage they’re taunting him, trying to get him to preemptively declare himself as the Messiah. “If you’re the Messiah, show yourself! Go to Jerusalem if you want to be famous!” But he didn’t take the bait. He would reveal himself, but only according to the Father’s plan and timing. The rest of the chapter deals with his encounters with the crowds there.

            But for now, I’d like to make a few more notes about his family before we move on. We don’t know what happened to all of his half-brothers, but we know a bit about two of them. After his resurrection, our Lord appeared to several people, among them his half- brother James. This James (who's different from the James who was an original apostle) became a pillar in the church and was mentioned several times in the book of Acts. He presided over the first official council of the church in Acts 15, and yes, he’s the one who wrote the book of the bible named after himself.

            The other one we know is Jude. Tradition states (and based on verse 1 of the epistle that bears his name), that he also was a half-brother of Jesus who became a believer after the Resurrection. So we have two half-brothers of Jesus who rejected him at first but who became leaders in the church (and who added to Scripture). 

            I realize that many people who read this devotional, like myself, were raised in a Christian family. If that describes you, please stop and thank God right now for that incredible blessing. But if not, if you’re alone in your family in serving Christ, please take heart. Your Savior went through the jeers, the misunderstandings, and the heartbreak of having family members reject you because of what the Father has called you to be. And don’t lose heart: There just might be a James in your family who hasn’t appeared yet. You never know, do you?

Father God, for all those who read this who have this heartache, please be with them. Be their Father, their brother, their all-in-all. Lord Jesus, as only you can, please make your presence known to them. Comfort them, please.

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