Short Meditations in John 7: 5. Family Isolation
Jn 7:5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
In the previous two studies we have been picking up on the point that Jesus, within his ministry, as the Son of God under the direction of his Father in heaven, nevertheless a) came under pressure from people, i.e. particularly his family, and b) attended and used the various Feasts that were part of Judaism. In the previous study we particularly picked up on the point of his family not believing in him. That is clearly accentuated by our verse today. It comes as a stark declaration, and it is around that verse that we now focus.
What Jesus experienced, he warned us to expect: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” (Mt 10:34-36 quoting Micah 7:6)
It is a sad but inevitable experience for the believer. He or she comes to Christ but finds that the wonder of their experience is not shared by their family and there, instantly, there is division. When I first came to Christ and sought to share what had happened with my unbelieving parents (nice and good people) they failed to understand. In the fulness of time my mother eventually encountered the Lord in a lovely way, but my father held out and, indeed, on one occasion in a discussion about Jesus declared, “You’re of the devil!” (A little ironic!!!)
Time passed and he was clearly set in his unbelief and clearly no longer wanted to talk and I found myself praying and asking the Lord for wisdom as to what to do. “Write him a letter,” came the guidance so I wrote a letter, seeking to be as gracious as possible laying out the basics of the Gospel and concluded it, “Dad, no one else in the family knows I am giving this to you and I will not say anything more to you about my faith, so I just ask you to read what I have written here and think about it in your own time.” To cut a long story short, he came to the Lord in the fulness of time without me having to say anything more. To the best of my knowledge my sister, with whom I had shared extensively never made a profession of faith.
And that is the heart of it, division comes with belief and our job then becomes to share as graciously as possible with our lived ones, in whatever ways we can find the grace to do it, but we can never guarantee that loved ones will come through. We can pray, seek God’s wisdom and share, but the outcome is never automatic. When unbelief continues, the best we can do is seek for God’s grace to be loving and full of grace, respecting others, whatever the outcome.