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Jesus and His Doubting “Brothers”

Jesus faced many challenges in His life. He met every obstacle by putting His Faith and trust in His Heavenly Father. From the Throne Room of God to the soil of earth, Jesus displayed the love of God. Becoming the sacrificial lamb, He acquired the ultimate forgiveness for the “whosoever’s” of the world. He conquered death and offered anyone who believed in Him eternal life. After His resurrection, He spent forty days reinforcing His teachings to those who would carry on the Gospel message. (Acts 1:3) Leaving His followers with the promise of the Holy Spirit and power, He ascended to His previously occupied seat at the right-hand of God. (Hebrews 8:1) There He assumed the role of High Priest, making intercession for all the earthly saints. (Hebrews 7:25-26)

One of the challenges in Jesus’ life was dealing with His own family. He had four half-brothers and at least two half-sisters. (Mark 6:3) How much did they know, and when did they realize that Jesus was, in fact, someone special? It seems that His mother and “siblings” were at a wedding feast in Cana when Jesus turned the water into wine. Weddings were family gatherings where all the community was called upon to celebrate the union between a man and a woman. We have no way of knowing how His family responded to the changing of water into wine, but surely it caused them to take notice, especially Mary. Shortly after the wedding celebration, Mary and her family moved to Capernaum. (John 2:11) (It would seem that Joseph had died and none of the “siblings” seemed to be interested in carrying on the family business, so they chose to relocate to the fishing community of Capernaum.) His family seemed to resist Him early in His ministry. One day, during a teaching session in the Synagogue at Nazareth, He acknowledged there was some resistance from His family by saying, “A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4) In another incident, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was being celebrated in Jerusalem. His brothers chided Him to go and show Himself. They were calling His “bluff,” for they did not “believe in Him.” (John 7:3-5) One day, Jesus was teaching in a house and the crowd was so big that there was no room even to eat. His friends came to “lay hold of Him, for they said He is beside himself.” (Mark 3:21) Mary and His “siblings called for Him to come outside, for things were getting out of hand. (Mark 3:31) One can only wonder how the wives of His half-brothers were involved in doubting His ministry! (I Corinthians 9:5) Christians talk about “Doubting Thomas” and his proclamation of unbelief, but little is said about Jesus’ doubting half-brothers and sisters.

Jesus never gave up on them, but through His love and compassion brought a change in the lives of His earthly family. Jesus’ life and finished work at Calvary, followed by His Resurrection and Ascension changed their lives forever. After His Ascension they all gathered with the Apostles to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1: 13, 14) James would later become the “figurehead” of the Church. (Acts 15:13, 21:18; Galatians 2:9, 2:12) He also wrote the Epistle of James. As one reads James’ epistle, one can see weaved throughout the letter a reflection of his own life and the lessons he learned. He wrote about the untamed tongue, remembering the times he challenged Jesus. Jude (Judas) would write the Epistle of Jude in which he warned about corrupt teachers and heresies. Both these brothers started their Epistles acknowledging their role as “servants of the Lord Jesus.”

Love and compassion can unify families in conflict. Actions speak louder than words!