Tall Poppy Nazareth Style

It must have been tough being a sibling of Jesus. A brother or a sister, I mean. James, Joseph, Judas, Simon or one of his sisters. (Mark 6.3) Sorry, sisters, you don’t get named – it’s a patriarchal society. And don’t forget the cousins and uncles and aunties – the ‘relatives’ referred to in verse 4.
The lectionarybrothers and sisters gospel this week takes us to Nazareth, Jesus’ home town. We don’t know why he went there. Home to see his mother, Mary? Time out with the family?
Jesus was the oldest, remember? What happens to oldest children? What do they get? Responsibility, privileges, authority. They get to do some of the child minding of the younger ones. They get to help Mum bring up the little kids, especially if Dad dies – like Joseph almost certainly did. That was big brother Jesus’ role.
And then big brother moved out, got a following, and became known for ‘miracles’ , and teaching about God that carried weight with ordinary people because he ‘spoke with authority, and not as the scribes.” Simply put he made sense, he connected. He was real. And people who came into contact with him got better – physically, emotionally, spiritually.
This guy is the big brother of the family. He’s a name. The rest of you are known by your relationship with him, like “he’s the brother/sister of Jesus, the famous teacher and healer.”
And now he’s in your patch, home for a visit, and everyone wants a slice of the Jesus action. Surely he will have some pretty good miracles for the home-town folk.
But when big brother goes into the synagogue and teaches, he somehow upsets the locals and they run him out of town. “They took offence at him.” They know this guy, he’s a local. Others further afield might be impressed, but not the Nazareth folks. They grew up with him. Their kids played with him.
What an upstart! Who does he think he is? ‘What is this wisdom that is given him, that he even does miracles?’
How do you feel now, as a brother or a sister of Jesus? How do the other townsfolk relate to you, speak to you? He can leave town, but you have to continue living there, and deal with the fall-out of his visit.
Sure, the main thrust of this passage is about the rejection of Jesus in his own town, and the lack of faith among the locals. But the family stuff is worth thinking about too, because that’s what we’re most likely to encounter. Really, when did you last have a local big-name guy hit town, upset the locals, and then tell them he felt rejected.
What’s it like today, when one member of the family is a star? What’s it like being a brother or a sister of Richie McCaw? Or Lorde? Or Kate Sylvester? Or John Key? Or John Campbell?
You’re always being compared, always an also-ran. You’re the brother or sister of that other person.
Okay, so I’ve over-drawn the picture a bit. But you get what I’m on about, don’t you?
It takes a lot of strength of character, God-given strength, to be your own person.
One of the most important things we can affirm in each other is that strength of character and colour of personality are God’s gifts to us at conception. We make that character stronger when we love and accept and affirm others as the people they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses. Just as they are and not in comparison with anyone else. God’s gifts to us – just as they are.


One comment

  1. Peter Bristow · July 1, 2015

    Hey Chris,

    keep it coming brother. Loving it. Especially this as a big brother.

    There was a school of though that suggested Jesus’ brothers and sisters were children Joseph had from an earlier marriage – but seriously, wouldn’t the gospel have mentioned that?



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