James and Jude

Half-Brothers of Jesus

Coming to his hometown, [Jesus] began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” Matthew 13: 54-56

“Ordinary” would have been the descriptive word used by the people of Nazareth about Jesus as he was growing up. Though conceived by the Holy Spirit while Mary was still a virgin, Jesus probably grew up as a normal boy like his half-brothers, Joseph’s sons, including James and Jude (Judas).

As Jesus began teaching and doing miracles (John 2:1-12), crowds gathered wherever he went. When his mother and brothers heard he wasn’t taking time to eat, they went to take charge of him, for “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he responded. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:31-35).

When Jesus taught in his hometown synagogue, his power and wisdom amazed them, but they too found it difficult to see Jesus in a new way. They thought they knew him—he was the carpenter’s son. His mother was Mary, and his brothers were James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. They knew his sisters as well. In fact, they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.’ And he didn’t do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13:53-58).

Jesus’s half-brothers, James and Jude, didn’t embrace his ministry until after his death and resurrection (John 7:5). Paul recorded a post-resurrection visit of Jesus to James (1 Corinthians 15:7). These brothers didn’t brag about their kinship with Jesus, but about their new relationship serving him as their Lord.

James became a strong leader in the newly formed church, one of the pillars (Galatians 2:9). He and Jude wrote letters which are included in our New Testament. They called themselves “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1) and “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James” (Jude 1).

Have you heard about Jesus and his teachings and miracles? Have you personally encountered the risen Jesus Christ? If so, dedicate your life to serving him.


Dig Deeper

What does scripture say about Joseph and Mary’s children in Matthew 1:18-25?

Read Acts 1:12-15. Who were described as joining those who were in constant prayer in the upper room after Jesus Christ’s ascension? Do you regularly join others to worship and pray?

Read Jude 24-25. How can you use this doxology (often used as a benediction) in your prayers?

Nancy J. Baker

This devotion is part of our series on Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.

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