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Why Didn't Jesus' Brothers Believe in Him?
Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. - John 7:3-5, ESV
One of the most puzzling facts recorded in the Gospels is the fact that Jesus' younger half-brothers did not believe in Him during His earthly ministry. In fact, Matthew, Mark and Luke all record that Jesus' brothers tried to stop His public ministry. John here records His brothers taunting Him and daring Him to go and get into a public confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem.
Why didn't Jesus' brothers believe in Him? Well, He was their older brother. They all grew up in the same household. These men were the natural sons of Joseph and Mary. They all knew that Joseph wasn't the biological father of Jesus. They had probably heard the stories of their mom's miraculous conception of Jesus in her womb, but they obviously didn't believe it. They probably suspected their parents lied to cover up some ugly reality.
Even though these men had grown up with a literally perfect older brother, they did not believe that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. The fact that all four Gospel writers record this truth is stunning, really. It is stunning because Jesus' brothers did actually become believers later. James and Jude became leaders in the early church and wrote the books of the Bible that bear their names.
So, what would have changed the minds of these brothers of Jesus? How did they go from mocking unbelief to committed discipleship of their older half-brother? The conversion of James and Jude is one of the key pieces of evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Both men were converted to Christ when they saw Jesus alive again, risen from the dead following His crucifixion.
So it turns out that the unbelief of Jesus' brothers is more than just an uncomfortable fact that makes parts of the Gospels painful to read. It's an important demonstration of the truth and power of the resurrection of Jesus.
Prayer Based on Psalm 23:
You, O Lord, are my shepherd; I shall not want.
You make me lie down in green pastures.
You lead me beside still waters.
You restore my soul.
You lead me in paths of righteousness
for You name's sake.
Lord, please lead me in paths of righteousness
for Your name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in Your house, O Lord,
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