October 28, 2016

Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

This is the very first mention of Jesus’ brothers as being among the believers, or even those who followed Him. Paul mentions that Peter got a personal visit from Jesus after the resurrection, apart from the other apostles, and after all of that, that He appeared to James, who was His half-brother, pointing out that he (Paul) was tacked on almost as an afterthought. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) Evidently James managed to convince his other brothers, because they were present here. Often we have the most difficulty evangelizing our own family, even though they are the ones we most care about. In our case it may well be because they know all our imperfections, but in Jesus’ case I think it was simply that familiarity breeds contempt. Until the resurrection, Jesus’ brothers couldn’t see that He was the Messiah, rather than just their slightly weird older brother. It is very significant that Jesus wanted to be sure His family was included before the Holy Spirit was poured out. It is also significant that even though James later was a pillar of the Church in Jerusalem, at this point he and his other brothers were definitely “low on the totem pole,” under the apostles whom Jesus had chosen personally. They evidently weren’t considered at all when it came to replacing Judas, because they didn’t fit the criterion of having been with the group “from the time of John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.” (21-22) At this point they were newcomers to faith, though they had known Jesus humanly speaking longer than anyone but Mary.

This brings up the whole issue of the complexity of human relationships. Relationships change with time and circumstances, and should not be presumed on. At her recent 50th high school class reunion, Cathy discovered that everyone had changed, in more ways than just appearance, and some more than others. Some of that was expected, and some was surprising. She discovered rapport with people she had not previously been close to, and some relationships had cooled. I experience the same thing in various ways. I think the lesson is not to write anyone off, but leave things in God’s hands. My own position in my family has shifted, because though I am the youngest, I am the one who followed in our father’s footsteps as far as occupation. I am not to take that lightly, nor be presumptive either. I am to relate, not just to my siblings but to everyone, as an agent of God’s love, grace, and mercy, so that all the plans of the enemy may be defeated and God’s will be done, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this insight. I was talking about some of it just the other day with a pastor friend. Help us all fulfill the place in Your family that You intend, so that together we may build up the Body of Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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