Jesus is the most important person who has ever lived. He is the one and only God-man. Christians study his life, as has been revealed in the Gospels, backwards and forwards. Yet for the first thirty years in my walk with Christ, even after going through seminary, I didn’t have an accurate picture of Jesus’ family life. I knew about Joseph and Mary, but that was pretty much it. Not only did Jesus have siblings, but He had at least six of them.
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
– Mark 6:2-4
For most of my Christian life, I had no clue that Jesus had four brothers, and at least two sisters. Shouldn’t it be basic Christian knowledge that Jesus came from a family of at least seven kids? We tend to focus so much on “our personal relationship with Jesus” and then “the priority of the local church” that we miss God’s mission and purpose for families.
Jesus’ siblings were used by God to advance the gospel and build His Church. They were there in the upper room in Acts 1 along with their mother Mary.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
– Acts 1:12-14
James, who may have been the next oldest son in the family, became a leader in the early church and was the author of the book of James. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, James, like many others still did not understand who Jesus really was. In fact, in Mark 3:20, James and the rest of Jesus’ family members think He has lost his mind. But over time James changed his mind. Can you imagine coming to the point in your life where you became utterly convinced that your big brother was the Son of the Living God? James did.