What do we know from Scripture about Jesus extended family and the trials HE experienced because of His relationship with them. We know Jesus had at least one set of elderly aunts and uncles in Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of His cousin, John who by all Biblical accounts was seen as a “wild man” who ate “honey and locust” and was preaching probably a short six months before Jesus began His ministry. (Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6) We know His Aunt Mary who accompanied His Mother, Mary, to the cross was the wife Cleophas, the brother of HIs mother. These were very close and supported His ministry. It seems reasonable to believe they knew the story of the Immaculate conception and the danger Mary experienced because she was only engaged to Joseph. It may be through Cleophas the story of the birth and young life of Jesus was passed down. (John 19:25) James, Jesus brother, would go on to write the book of James and he wrote it from his experience of watching Jesus behavior and how this is our proof of our belief. (Galatians 1:19) “Framed within an overall theme of patient perseverance during trials and temptations, James writes to encourage believers to live consistently with what they have learned in Christ.” (Wikipedia)
Every family has its “odd characters.” Jesus was without a doubt considered one of His family’s weirdos. Ponder for a minute the fact Jesus created cousin John, Aunt Mary, Uncle Cleophas, and James. All these would be vital to his life. These brought both joy and sorrow to His life. For example, John, known as the baptizer, would baptize Jesus, declare Him to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” only to then doubt this as he faced being beheaded for his preaching of the coming kingdom of God. Jesus loved John. His death broke the heart of Jesus. (Luke 7:20)
This is not the only family member laid to rest during His lifetime. Aunt Elizabeth, Uncle Zechariah, Joseph, and possibly a sibling or two just based on infant mortality rates of upwards of 50% and life expectancy of 28-35 years of age during this time period. Great sorrow brings families together for the funeral and can divide them as they divide the spoils of a short life. Trinkets squabbled over. Someone so afraid another will get a shekel more than they. Difficult times create difficult relationships.
What trials do families bring to bear in our lives? Competition in play. Cooperation in work. Acceptance of differences in lifestyle, mental, physical or emotional ability. Loving people as they are not based on our expectations. Compassion and championing for those with deformity, disability, or difference. Judgement of success or failure. Pain. Feelings of rejection. Each person in our life places a thumbprint in the clay of our being molded into the person we will become. Some people smooth our rough places because they are sandpaper and others act as a constant drip of water slowly, imperceptibly wearing down the clay into a shiny, smooth vessel capable of beauty and function. We learn patience, We learn to see beyond the outward expressions to the heart easily wounded and guarding. We learn to accept our differences as important to the function of the family unit and for our assistance during times of trouble for another has expertise we lack. We learn to be strong and tough as nails through conflict. We learn diplomacy through dispute. We learn to stand strong and firm for our beliefs as we process the world around us. We learn to forgive. We learn how to win and lose. We learn “we don’t like in others what we don’t like in ourselves.” (My Mamma’s favorite saying when I would complain about other people!) None of this comes easy. Most of us resist this kind of growth. It is like an oak standing in the face of hurricane force winds. Limbs break off, the trunk bends, and leaves are blown away. What remains is the strongest part of the tree and over time it becomes large, sheltering and beautiful in its twisted, bent, and expanding stand. The long term result is a tree with a multitude of acorns to feed wildlife and produce more healthy tree stands.
Yes, Jesus like us was tried and tempted by His family members: Both immediate and extended. Are you not glad to know this? He feels my frustration, angst, and turmoil caused by myself and others in the family. Jesus says we are His brothers and sisters, joint heirs. (Hebrews 2:11, Romans 8:17) Do I cause Him great consternation when I am jealous of my brother or sister? I am sure He is. He is our peacemaker. The Word tells us He cares for us! (I Peter 5:7) He desires for us to be in harmony. He loves us each equally but differently. He provides what we need individually. To be a part of His family, is not for sissies! We must bend and not break. Aren’t you glad to know Jesus had a functioning dysfunctional family? I sure am!
Yes, Jesus had extended family issues just like we do!
The Family Prayer Song by the Maranatha Singers
Treading with my tribe,