The story the four brothers tell

Published 9:36 am Sunday, October 22, 2023

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By Rev. TA Mathews

Their names were James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. Four brothers out of five. Do you recall the name of their famous other brother?


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-None of the above

Lock in your choice, and I’ll tell you the correct answer.

Many don’t realize they are named in Scripture, but the Bible tells us the four brothers of Jesus: James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. (Mark 6:3)

The correct answer is No. 1.

After Jesus saved the day at the wedding in Cana, turning water into wine, He and His mother and brothers and disciples all went to the beach. Or at least to a beach town on the Sea of Galilee. Here’s the passage.

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee … (it) revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.” (John 2:1-12)

This is the first of three scenes the Gospels show us with Jesus’ brothers. Just three. But they tell a story. One you might be familiar with.

First, at Cana, Scripture says this scene “revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” Like the disciples, obviously Jesus’ brothers were also pleased, and they all head for the beach.

But the tide turned. As Jesus’ ministry progressed, those who resented our Lord mocked Him and even called Him insane. Here’s the passage.

“And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. And when His own people heard about this, they came out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘He has lost His senses.’ The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.’… and (others) were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’”  (Mark 3:20-30)

So, His mother and brothers came to get Him: “Now His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd.” (Luke 8:19-21, Matthew 12:46, Mark 3:31)

John’s Gospel then shows us a third scene. The Lord was well into his ministry because John has said at least two Passovers have come and gone. It was now autumn and the time for the Feast of Booths. Look at the passage and see what you think. Do His brothers resent Him?

“Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now … the Feast of Booths was near.  So His brothers said to Him, ‘Move on from here … no one does anything in secret when he himself is striving to be known publicly. If You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world.’” For not even His brothers believed in Him.” (John 7:1-4)

John makes sure you get it, that you see the brothers’ resentment. John plainly says in the next sentence, “Not even His brothers believed in Him.” (John 7:5)

James, Jesus’ oldest brother, will ultimately lead the church. Scripture pointedly tells us that Jesus appeared to him after the Resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:7)

Jesus’ brothers missed following Him. They missed hearing His words of truth. They missed seeing His awesome miracles.

Scripture shows us only three scenes with the four brothers, but they tell us a story — those closest to Jesus missed knowing Him.

Who are you?

The person who spends time with Him every day, or are you waiting until life slows down — for vacation or when you retire — then you’ll have time for Jesus?  Are you the skeptic, unable to believe His deeds in Scripture or the Resurrection?

People come to the Lord for different reasons. It can take a crisis to bring a person to their knees — a grave illness, imprisonment, financial distress, impending divorce. It might happen on a person’s death bed, after they have missed a lifetime of being with Jesus.

Our God is alive, and He wants you.

But if you wait until that crisis when you desperately need Him or wait until you have time on your hands, you’re going to miss out on the greatest adventure of a lifetime: Being with God.

Confess your sins and believe Jesus died to save you from them. Believe and know God. He will answer you, guide you, comfort you. Turn to Him. Do it right now.