This Week's Focus Passage

John 7:5 ‘For even his brethren did not believe on him.’

Must we not confess, at least the most of us, how frustrating and how depressing it is when we are not able to convince even our nearest and dearest ‘kinsmen according to the flesh’ of the truth as it is in Christ. We are unable to bring them to an understanding that the Scriptures, the Bible, is the very Word of God; that the gospel of Jesus Christ is worthy of acceptation by all. In spite of our own understanding of the sovereignty of God which informs us that the essential need of every soul is that of a new heart; a new birth; regeneration; something we know very well that we cannot accomplish; something that is entirely, as they say, out of our hands, we continue to lament our helplessness in the matter. Intellectually, we would never subscribe to any notion of our having, or being given, the ability to actually convert another. Yet, many of us may freely confess our guilt in occasionally wishing that we could. Why won’t they believe our report? Isaiah spoke eloquently to this question. I believe that he was most certainly crying out when he enquired pathetically, Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed? The second question actually answers, in many ways, the first question. Isaiah is lamenting, as we often do, when he asks, ‘who has believed our report?’ the reality that few, or none, are they that have indeed believed the gospel that we set before them from our lips, and hopefully by our lives. Yet, as suggested above, the second question bears closely upon the first. In other words, if we enquire with the prophet, why have none believed our message? the answer is that the ‘arm of the Lord has not been revealed unto them.’
This answer has been given us by none other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in John 12:37-40:
But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him: that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake,
For this cause they could not believe, for that Isaiah said again,
Jesus has cited passages from the prophet which are found in Isaiah 53:1, as well as 6:10. Why should we then wonder that our kinsmen do not believe? Think about it. His kinsmen according to the flesh; His immediate half-brothers and sisters had lived with Him for years. They had likely played with Him as little children; worked together with Him perhaps as young men learning their father’s trade; went to synagogue together as a family. To put it concisely, they grew up with Him; this One who, as a twelve-year old lad went in company with His family to the feast of the Passover—Luke 2:41ff.—on that occasion where, on their beginning their return home, they discovered that Jesus was not with them. They could do nothing else but return to Jerusalem to look for Him.
And it came to pass, after three days they found him, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both hearing them, and asking them questions: and all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? knew ye not that I must be in my Father’s house? The chapter concludes with:
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. —Luke 2:46-49, 52
Can we even begin to imagine what His brethren thought about these things? We would expect to hear a response along the lines of that uttered by the disciples in response to Christ’s rebuking the wind and the raging of the sea in Luke 8:22ff. We are told, And being afraid they marvelled, saying one to another, Who then is this?
Is this not what we would anticipate as the reaction of His family, His brethren, when they found Him in the temple in serious dialogue with the teachers of the Jews? We are told that they were amazed at His understanding and astonished at His questions, yet we do not hear them crying out, ‘Who then is this?’ Rather, we discover some years later—probably about 18 years later—that when He had begun His public ministry, even his brethren did not believe on him. Is this not what is truly amazing and truly astonishing?
Do you, like me, have family members who do not believe in Jesus? If so, we are in good company. So did Jesus. And I think this is meant to give us hope. Hope engenders prayer; we pray daily for the salvation of our ‘kinsmen according to the flesh.’ This fleshly family of Jesus had the same need that every one of us has.
We need a new heart; ye must be born again. Among mankind, there is no exception to this rule. Among the truths that God has brought us to the knowledge of is that of His sovereignty. But even when we learned that blessed truth, we must confess how difficult it has been to grasp it with regard to our loved ones. We find ourselves often wishing, in spite of our better judgment that we could somehow save them. O shame on us! Praise God that we have been taught also to watch and pray. We understand that we are to Delight thyself also in Jehovah; and he will give thee the desire of thy heart. We have the privilege and duty of praying for the desires that God puts into our hearts, and waiting upon Him. We have been encouraged by the intimation that Jesus’ brothers, His kinsmen, did later believe—Acts 1:14—may it be so with ours?

David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church


Join us Sunday at