Seven year old Tim’s life is just dandy, he has adoring parents who give him 100% of their time, attention and love. Then one day a little brother arrives, and suddenly Tim’s well-being is under threat. His parents are now exhausted all the time, having spent their energy running around after little brother, they don’t even have time to sing their favourite lullaby to Tim, the Beatles Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Tim is not happy.
It turns out that baby brother has another agenda, and is actually no ordinary baby. And after a protracted running battle the two team up in order for little brother to succeed in his mission and return to his mysterious secret base, leaving Tim at peace, and with the full attention of his parents once again.
Jesus had a family. It may not have been something you have considered before, but it is worth reflecting upon. Not least because being part of a family is not always a beer and skittles. There is a moment in Matthew’s gospel blog, chapter 13 verses 54-57 when a crowd gathers in Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth. True to form the local boy finds it hard to make good there. The crowd are a mixture of amazement, curiosity and confused disbelief, as they hear Jesus teach and then say to one another, ‘’ere! Ain’t he that old carpenter’s lad? The one with four brothers and all them sisters? ‘ow’s ‘e know all this then, where’s he get these new-fangled ideas from?’ That was at least the gist of what they said anyway. They mention the names of four brothers, but don’t bother naming the girls, just commenting on ‘all his sisters’. So Jesus clearly came from a big family, with all the joys and tensions that held. And that means he understands when we struggle with our family situations. He was a toddler, a lad, a teenager, a young man – in a family with brothers and sisters. On one occasion we are told that his brothers come to try and drag him home as they are finding his new ministry a little embarrassing. (Mark 3 v 21) On another occasion they try and trick him into going to a festival where he might well be carted away, and thereby stopped from upstaging the rest of them. (John 7 vv 1-5)
Eventually after Jesus returned to his father, his brother James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. The New Testament letter of Jude is thought to have been written by another of his brothers. So at least two of them went on to become believers and followers. In the book of Hebrews chapter 4, we are told that Jesus ‘understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.’ I think that partly refers to his growing up years, and the struggles and pleasures of being a brother and a son. He understands when you face that difficult situation again, those family frustrations, heartaches and hopes. He has been there and walked that road. He knows what it’s like and can help us take another step.