Everyone knows Jesus had a mother by the name of Mary. But many people do not realise he also had brothers and sisters too. He was part of an earthly family as well as being in the family of God.
This comes as a shock to some people the first time they see this, as common perceptions are that Jesus was an only child. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When Joseph was about to take Mary for his wife and found her to be pregnant he was going to divorce her. He believed she had done wrong by him by having sexual relations with another man. However, he was visited by an angel of God in a dream who explained that the child Mary carried was of God and would be the saviour of the world. Joseph then changed his mind and took her as his wife. But the scripture says, “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24-25) Joseph and Mary did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus was born. However after that blessed event, their marriage was like the normal relationship between a man and a woman, which included sexual intercourse and the birth of other children.
In Matthew 12:46 we see that someone came to Jesus saying that, “…his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.” So this verse indicates that Jesus did indeed have physical brothers who were the sons of Joseph and Mary. In Mark 6:3 we see that he had four brothers and he had at least two sisters as well. The brothers are named in this scripture as follows, “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?” So Jesus was the eldest child of Mary and through her he was half brother to four brothers and at least two sisters for the word “sisters” in this verse is plural.
Now even though we have a physical family on this earth, Jesus shows us that we will have brothers and sisters in the Lord as members of the family of God. This family that we gain in Christ, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, may even be more important in some ways than our family in the flesh. There are many people who are abused and hurt by their fleshly families, but the family of God will not do that to us.
Here in Matthew 12:46-50 we find Jesus showed us that everyone who does the will of the Father is his brother, sister or mother. And if we are thus related to Jesus, we are sons and daughters of God and part of the family of God. The key to becoming part of the family of God is to do God’s will, which is to believe in Jesus Christ and to follow his teachings and ways.
When Jesus spoke to the disciples just prior to Pentecost, he told them they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8) On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to them in the rush of winds and flames of fire and they all began speaking in tongues. (Acts 2:1-4) There was indeed power in this event and afterwards the apostles did many miraculous things, healing the sick, raising the dead and other things, all done by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today there are some in the church who wish to have this power to do miracles. But in thinking that way they miss the point about the power that the disciples received. They received power to be his witnesses so that they could bring people to God and increase the family of God. The real power that the disciples received is the power to become children of God as the apostle John said, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
The power to become the children of God and thus members of the family of God is the true power we have been given. Miracles are just a flash in the pan by comparison, for they will fade away and disappear eventually. In 1 Corinthians 13:8 we see it stated, “Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” All of these miraculous things will cease eventually but love, and especially the love in the family of God lasts forever. It is the power to become the children of God through doing God’s will that is important.
We may lose our fleshly families in the process as our physical brothers and sisters may choose not to follow Jesus. But Jesus promises that if we lose our earthly families we will gain a heavenly family in the family of God. He said in Mark 10:29-30, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
So we can take heart that even though we may lose the people who are close to us, not that we walk away from them, they will leave us, we will gain a family in God that will sustain us in ways our earthly family cannot. And his promise is that we will receive even more both now and in the future an eternal life with God the Father, Jesus and the rest of the family of God.