“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Family life was greatly complicated by the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the families of Christians have not been immune to the consequences.
But it should give us hope that even Jesus understands the pain resulting from broken families. Even the Son of God was not spared from the difficulties of family life in a fallen world.
The Bible seems to indicate that Joseph, the husband of Mary, died sometime during Jesus’ teenage years. The last time Joseph is mentioned in the gospels is when Jesus, then twelve years old, is left behind accidently in Jerusalem by his parents and is subsequently found in the temple courts listening to the religious teachers and engaging them with his questions.
If Joseph indeed died sometime after this event, as many biblical scholars have speculated, then Jesus came of age in a single-parent family. As the oldest son, Jesus would have been expected to take on increasingly more and more of the responsibility to become a breadwinner for his family and to help care for his younger siblings.
Furthermore, the Bible records that when Jesus began his earthly ministry, his siblings and other family members did not believe that he was the promised Messiah (John 7:5). They simply could not imagine that this man, who they had long known and had watched grow up, was God in the flesh.
At one point, his own family members actually called him crazy, saying that “he is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). It is for this reason that Jesus laments, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home” (Matthew 13:57). Thankfully, the Bible records that his brothers eventually came to believe in him (Acts 1:14).
Jesus Christ has felt the pain and sorrow that accompanies difficult family circumstances. He knows the grief of losing a father, as well as the burden of tending to his widowed mother and mourning family. He has felt the emotional sting of rejection from his own family, and he knows the heartache that results from worrying about unsaved family members.
All of this should give us greater confidence as we go to the Lord in prayer. Will you join me in prayer?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you that you can sympathize with our trials and temptations because you have experienced many of the same situations that we face. We know that your family experienced difficult times and interpersonal conflict. Please restore and protect our families, making us examples of your love. Restrain our sinful tendencies and extend your gracious salvation to our family members who have rejected you. In your name we pray, amen.