What would it have been like growing up with Jesus as an older brother?

Knowing Him  is a chronological 50 Day Study in the life of Christ. This week we’re diving into Day 5 of the study, a look at Jesus’ relationship with His four younger brothers. 

“Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?””‬‬

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:55-56‬ ‭NLT

What was Jesus’ relationship like with His brothers?

Jesus was a carpenter, a “tekton” or builder. We often think of Him in a carpentry shop working with wood, making tables and chairs, but the word “tekton” relates more to a stone cutter. When you see the style on construction in Israel, it seems as though Jesus was more of a construction worker than a wood worker. He would have learned this trade from and worked alongside His step-father Joseph.

It also seems likely that Jesus’ four younger brothers would have also been tektons, and depending upon how old Joseph was when he died, Jesus might have had to apprentice them in the family business.

How did Jesus’ brothers treat Him when they were children? How did they treat Him when they were young men, working alongside their perfect older brother? Did they find themselves engaging in “locker room talk” on the work site, only to catch themselves and say, “Oh yeah, not while He’s around…”

One picture we have of Jesus’ relationship with His brothers is seen in Matthew 12 and Luke 8.

“As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:46-48‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Did they feel ignored or disrespected? It’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t have. There already seemed to be a rift or animosity that Jesus’ brothers felt toward Him.

“After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.”

John‬ ‭7:1-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Wow!!! Even His brothers didn’t believe in Him? They couldn’t see that He was in fact the Messiah, or didn’t want to believe He was the Messiah.

Did Jesus’ brothers truly despise and reject their own flesh and blood? This Messianic Psalm gives a vivid but sad picture of Jesus’ growing up years.

“For I endure insults for your sake; humiliation is written all over my face. Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrow, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me.”

Psalms‬ ‭69:7-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬



Ostracized by brothers

Scoffed at

Made fun of

Gossiped about

The subject of drunkards silly songs

This is the description of Jesus’ life growing up.

When He is described as a “man of sorrows” who knew grief and suffering, it’s important to realize that this had been Jesus’ experience His entire life and it only amplified as He approached the cross.

When God became man, this was the humility that He displayed. Not just the unimaginable disparity between being God and man, but the humiliation of how He would be treated by His own brothers, relatives, and neighbors throughout His life. Humbled to the degree that He was willing to be humiliated.

He did this for me.

This is just another reminder of how much I am loved.