Tucked between two of the stories of Jesus in the book of John is one verse that is probably overlooked by most readers. But on a recent read it caught my attention and my imagination.
In John, Chapter 2, Jesus performs his first miracle by turning the water into wine. He’s at a wedding in Cana. His mother Mary is there and John tells us the disciples were there also. The passage does not mention any other family of Jesus, but in verse 12, John says that after the wedding, “he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples.” Whether they all attended the wedding together or the brothers, meaning the natural born children of Mary and Joseph, joined them later for the trip to Capernaum, it doesn’t say. But I wonder what that trip was like.
Imagine with me the conversations on that road to Capernaum. In particular, I wonder what the brothers had to say about the crew Jesus had assembled. We know from John, Chapter 5 that Jesus’ brothers didn’t really get him. They did not believe in him as the Messiah. Though we do know that at least one of them eventually believed. After the resurrection, Jesus’ half-brother James become a leader in the Jerusalem church. But on this trip in John 2, he had not yet been convinced.
If only I could have been a fly on someone’s shoulder…….
“So you’re my brother’s disciple, is that right? Must not have had much going on before………Oh, you were a tax collector? That’s pretty lucrative. So you’re on a vacation or leave of absence or something like that? ………. You quit? Really? Look, I don’t know what Jesus promised you, but he doesn’t have much money……….He told you that. He asked you to give up everything and follow him? And you said yes? …….. Alrighty then. (This guy is just as nutty as Jesus is.)”
And what did the brothers have to say to Jesus after meeting the twelve.
“Look, Jesus, about these disciples of yours, I don’t know what you’ve told them, but these guys have given up everything to follow you. Now, we know you’re special (rolling of the eyes). We’ve all heard the story. Every year on your birthday mom tells how the angel appeared and how you were a gift from God, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, come on. You were the first born. Naturally she favors you a little.
“And we all know about cousin John. He thinks you’re the Chosen One. But, face it. John has always been a little left of center. Am I right? I mean those clothes and living in the desert. Come on.
“All I’m saying is don’t let all that go to your head. Think carefully before asking these men to leave their jobs and families for good to follow you around on a public relations tour. Simon has a wife. Did you know that? …… Of course you do. How could I forget? You know everything.”
Jesus faced skepticism from his own family. The people who knew him the longest had a hard time seeing him for who he really was. And for those of us who have grown up in church, who have heard the Bible stories from the time we were old enough to walk, do we see Jesus for who he really is? Or are we too familiar with him?
Is he real in our lives, or just a storybook hero from the past? A good person to model our lives after, but with no real place in our lives today?
Or have you, like James, awakened to the wonder of God With Us in the form of this man, Jesus and allowed him to change you from the inside out?