Jesus and his brothers
Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” That was certainly true of Jesus. His mother Mary honored him because the angel Gabriel had foretold his birth and he had been born while she was still a virgin. Joseph honored him because after he discovered that Mary was pregnant an angel appeared to him in a dream to tell him that Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and that he would save his people from their sins. But after he was born Joseph and Mary had other children. There were four boys named James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, and an unspecified number of girls. These children had not received the divine revelations their parents had and they thought that Jesus was just an ordinary person like them.
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)
This changed after the death and resurrection of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul lists some of the appearances Jesus made after his resurrection.
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:7)
The James mentioned here was the brother of Jesus. He became a leader of the early church and was the author of the book of James in the Bible. Another of Jesus’ brothers wrote the book of Jude. The Bible says nothing about the other siblings of Jesus but I think it is safe to conclude that they also became believers.
The children of Joseph and Mary weren’t the only brothers Jesus had. Jesus came to be king of the Jews and so in a sense the entire Jewish nation could be said to be his brothers. Most of the responded to him the way his immediate family did.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11)
A few Jews believed in him and followed him, and after his death and resurrection they formed the nucleus of a new body called the church. Most of the nation, including the leaders, refused to follow and when he was on trial before Pilate they formally rejected his kingship.
They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)
The members of Jesus’s immediate family eventually came to believe in him. The same thing will happen to his larger family, the Jews.
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
His brothers became believers after Jesus rose from the tomb; Israel will repent and believe when he returns from Heaven. The details of his return are found in Zechariah 12-14. The nations of the world will be united in an attempt to destroy Israel. Two thirds of the Jews will perish but the other third will call on God and be saved.
In the whole land, declares the Lord,
two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, “They are my people”;
and they will say, “The LORD is my God.” (Zechariah 13:8,9)
After this Jesus will return and give victory to his people.
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. (Zechariah 14:2-4)
The way the family of Jesus came to be saved is a picture of how his greater family, the Jewish nation, will come to salvation.