Not Even His Brothers
John 7:5 (ESV) — For not even his brothers believed in him.
Many people like to assume that if they had lived during the time, and around the place of Jesus, they would have followed Him. Some even claim that if they saw what others saw, it would strengthen their faith. We assume that our proximity to Jesus would increase our faith and trust in Him. But the Scriptures offer plenty of places to give us caution on that notion.
Our passage today is one such example. In John’s Gospel he records, “For not even his brothers believed in him.” This is in reference to Jesus’ own family members not believing in Him. Jesus was teaching inside of a home with large crowds gathered both inside and outside. His mother and brothers came to the home to find it impossible to get in. They sent a message to Him to stop what He was doing and come out. John tells us why: they didn’t believe in Him.
What does this mean? It means, at minimum, His brothers didn’t believe in Him as the Messiah. They grew up with Jesus. He was the oldest boy in the family. All the children of Joseph and Mary come after Jesus’ birth, when they could marry one another. So these boys grew up around Jesus. He was too normal to them. He was just their brother. Watching all these people flock to Him, and hearing the way He was talking, confronted them on a deep and personal level. But Jesus didn’t change what He was doing because of their unbelief. He was on a mission from His Father.
However, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the family came to faith. James and Jude, both the half-brothers of Jesus, came to believe He was the Messiah. What changed their mind? They saw Him crucified and raised from the dead. The glorious reality of Jesus’ resurrection opened their eyes to His true nature and calling. We should see their conversion and transformation as evidence for our own faith. They saw Him alive. They then gave their lives, even to the point of death, in spreading the gospel message.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do you think Jesus’ brothers struggled with believing in Him?
- How can we explain their transformation and conversion to someone else?
- How should this passage help us to think about unbelief in the world today and what is needed to overcome it?
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