The most rewarding relationships are often found within our own families. But they can also be the most challenging, as well.
Fortunately, people of faith can draw comfort from Jesus knowing that he understands what it’s like to grow up in a family that has difficulties when it comes to relationships. Because he grew up in such a family himself. A family that rejected him.
Listen in to learn how knowing that Jesus understands can help us.
In last week’s episode, no. 107, Seeing is Believing – Or Is It? we considered Jesus’ comment, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.”
We talked about how the townspeople of Nazareth rejected Jesus. But in today’s episode, I want to reflect on the rejection Jesus faced from his family and relatives in this same story.
For he gives us an example of what to do when we experience rejection from our own family
Jesus faces rejection from his family
But first the context. Here’s the story again from Mark 6, the first 6 verses.
The context of Jesus’ comments
“Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, ‘Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?' Then they scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.' They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.' And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.”
Jesus played several relational roles in his family, just as we do in ours
Because of this, we know he understands the challenges we face in those same roles in our family.
Jesus knew what it was like growing up in a large family, 4 brothers at least 2 sisters, likely 3, maybe more. His 4 brothers are named, but none of the sisters.
Jesus was the firstborn of the family. He identifies with other 1st borns. I’m a firstborn. Many of you are, too.
Where was Joseph? Was he dead? Little mention of him.
With the exception of his mother, Jesus was rejected by his own family and relatives as Mark’s Gospel tells us. Scripture is silent about Joseph in this context.
I wonder if Jesus’ siblings were jealous of him? Did they see their parents as favoring Jesus over them? Yet as adults we know that at least some of them traveled with him and his disciples. We also know
- The brothers of Jesus had wives (I Corinthians 9:5)
- Jesus was a brother-in-law. He had sisters-in-law
- Jesus was most likely an uncle
He identified with our struggles. He knew firsthand the challenges we all face in being part of a family.
So what does all this mean for us?
What are we to do when our family or relatives reject us here in the 21st century?
For one thing, don’t give up on the people who reject us. In time, they could come around. And cherish your relationship with those who still accept you.
Some of Jesus' brothers still followed him around from time to time, from village to village. It doesn’t appear that all his siblings rejected him.
And then there is his mother, Mary. What a mom she must have been, trying to navigate and encourage relationships between her children with their most extraordinary sibling, Jesus. I wonder what Mary felt to see some of her other children reject her firstborn son.
The family member who stayed with Jesus at the end
Then at the end, Mary was the only family member there with Jesus at the cross, at his crucifixion. No other family member was present.
Imagine what it must have like for her to watch her son die a slow agonizing death right in front of her. But she was there to support her oldest son. She was with him at Bethlehem, and now she’s with him at Calvary. Bookends to the greatest life ever lived.
A second thing we can do when our family rejects us is to draw closer to Jesus.
Our family's rejection can draw us closer to Jesus
Knowing that Jesus experienced what it’s like to be rejected by his family makes him easier to approach because he knows what it’s like. Jesus understands. He gets us. He longs for us to come to him for wisdom, comfort, and strength to deal with our family when they reject us.
When we draw closer to Jesus he enables us to do what he did when his earthly family rejected him. He moved on, focusing more on his heavenly family, with God the Father as its head.
Jesus didn’t reject his earthly family, as they did him. No, he still created space for them in his life. But his attention was directed to fulfilling God’s plan for his time on earth, and not simply to gain approval from his family. May the same be true of all of us.
Today's main idea to help in your relationships
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
Because Jesus went through rejection from his own earthly family and relatives, he is someone we can turn to when the same thing happens to us. He understands. He gets us.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
In closing, if you found the podcast helpful, please subscribe if you haven’t already done so.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships, even when you experience rejection in those relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.
Related resources you may want to check out:
Episode 107: Seeing is Believing – Or Is It?
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