2 Chronicles 17-18
“For even His own brothers did not believe in Him.” —John 7:5
The Bible tells us little about Jesus’s childhood or family life, but what it does tell us suggests Jesus’s relationship with His family was strained. The only childhood event Scripture records is Jesus at 12 years old remaining in Jerusalem after a Passover celebration. No one in the family realized He was missing until a day into their journey home. When they turned back to the city to look for Him, they found Him talking with the teachers of the law. His parents questioned why He had stayed behind, to which the young Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for Me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
If this is any indication of what Jesus was like as a child, His half-brothers and sisters likely came to resent Him. It could not have been easy growing up with a sibling who exhibited moral excellence in every way. Yet, for a Jewish family, even this would have been easier to accept than His claims to be the Messiah and the Son of God. In fact, when Jesus first preached at the age of 30 in Nazareth, their hometown, His family “went to take charge of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind’” (Mark 3:21). During the course of Jesus’s ministry, He and His siblings grew further apart, and only Mary was present when He was crucified. The rest simply could not believe Jesus was who He said He was.
It is possible some of Jesus’s siblings remained unbelievers until their deaths, but the Bible reveals at least two of His brothers eventually came to believe in Him. We do not know the circumstances behind Jude’s conversion, but Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:7 that Jesus appeared directly to James after His resurrection. Jesus deliberately sought out this younger brother whom He had grown up with, played with and driven to embarrassment, ultimately convincing James that He truly was the Son of God.
Some of us may worry about family members who are not yet believers. We have sought to live godly lives that demonstrate Christ-like qualities, but they simply do not want to see it. If that is the case, do not lose heart. Do not stop praying for them or revealing Christ to them. Jesus was the greatest example of a man living in dependence on God, the most Christ-like person ever because He was Christ, and His own siblings missed it! But if James’s and Jude’s conversions teach us anything, it is that given time, God can reach into our loved one’s hearts and draw them to Himself, no matter how resistant they may seem right now.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am reminded that You understand my family struggles as You have experienced them too. I will continue to pray for the work of Your Spirit in bringing my loved ones into Your saving grace. Thank You, Jesus.