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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Unbelieving Family

A couple of years ago my grandfather died. Well, he didn't just die. He committed suicide. It was a difficult time for me and for my family. We're mostly Christians, but my grandfather never was or even claimed to be. Despite years and years of hearing the truth, he went to his grave shaking his fist in the face of God. And knowing that my grandfather was not in a "better place" like we always tell people when a loved one dies was ... uncomfortable. (You see there my ability to make an understatement.)

Of course, in the final analysis I believe God does what is right and just and, in the case of my grandfather, did exactly that. In the end, I can rest on Heavenly Father for that. But knowing that a loved one did not believe or does not believe has the potential of being a painful and difficult thing.

And then I read this in my Bible:
Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So His brothers said to Him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." For not even His brothers believed in Him (John 7:2-5).
I know how I felt about my grandfather when he was alive and not believing. I know how I felt when he died not believing. I know how I feel now about people who are close to me who do not believe, even relatives. So I ask myself, "What do you suppose Jesus felt when His brothers did not believe?"

We are sure, despite the Roman Catholic perspective, that Jesus had siblings. We are not sure how many. And we're pretty sure that one of His brothers, James, believed and became very prominent in the Church. That's what you might expect having lived up close and personal with the Son of God. But we do not know (nor can we) if all of Jesus's siblings ultimately believed. We do know that in John 7 they did not. What, do you suppose, were Jesus's words of comfort to Himself? What was His attitude about members of His family and members of His extended family -- Israel -- who did not believe ... would not believe? Some, He knew, would go to their graves, having spent years and years of hearing the truth, shaking their fists in the face of God. What truth did Jesus tell Himself when He thought of that? I'd be interested in knowing that.

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