Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Even His brothers were not believing in him" (John 7:5)

I have been thinking a great deal about the price followers of Christ had to pay in terms of frayed and strained family relationships. As for me, it was almost 15 years after I believed in Christ that my family (I have 3 younger brothers) began to accept me for who and what I am. It is too painful to recount some of the family conflicts (and misunderstanding) due to my confession in Christ and my giving up of everything to follow Christ. Being the eldest son in the family makes my position and situation in my family worse. But I thank God for a measure of love and unity in my family now. A couple of weeks ago, all the family except one sister-in-law spent Chinese New Year in Kuching, Sarawak.

Jesus must have a hard time with his younger brothers. In Mark 3, his brothers together with Mary wanted to accost Jesus for they thought he had become mad. In John 7, even at the height of the most sacred of Festivals, Sukkoth Jesus was ridiculed by his own brothers as a fraud. They chided him for some apparent inconsistency of wanting to be famous but yet remaining hidden from sight. So they mocked, "Why not perform some eye-catching miracle if you want to be a public figure?" Even his brothers were not believing in him, so wrote John the evangelist. As one scholar has noted, the imperfect tense here of episteuon tells us that it was a continual state of unbelief toward Jesus during his life-time and it was only after Jesus' death and resurrection that at least two brothers came to faith, James, later the bishop of Jerusalem and Jude, the author of the letter bearing his name. It must have brought Jesus much grief to see his brothers in the flesh rejecting him, notwithstanding the former's efforts to visit his hometown from time to time (Mark 6:1ff and Luke 4:24). As for me, it is one of the hardest battles I fight all the time, my own parents and my brothers are still not believers and I do pray that they will become believers one day, hopefully before my death or departure in the Lord. What fellowship is there between light and darkness, or unbelief and faith?

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