When Belief in Christ Breaks the Home Apart
In Mark 6:4, Jesus is rejected by His listeners in Nazareth and quotes the well-known proverb: “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
Notice how He specifies three groups and narrows the group each time―hometown, relatives, and household. Jesus knew what it was like to be rejected by His family for the gospel He preached and is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” accordingly; He is “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Whether the temptation was frustration, anger, or whatever―Jesus was tempted to react sinfully towards His family for their rejection of Him. It is no surprise that “he marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:6), but He did not sin, an example for us today.
Jesus warns us elsewhere that our belief in Him sometimes breaks a home apart: “a person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt 10:36; cf. 10:34–35). But, as we love Him more than those who hate Him (even family members), we lose our lives for His sake and find life eternal by bearing such a cross (Matt 10:37–39). The proof of this love is often shown in difficult day-to-day choices that we make as we interact with these family members. Jesus shouldered His family’s dishonor and continued to preach the gospel.
Jesus’ sympathy in this situation encourages us all the more to “hold fast our confession” of Christ and “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” in prayer (Heb 4:14, 16). Even when family rejects you, continue to confess Christ and ask Him for grace and strength to endure.
We should also pray for our family members who reject Christ that they would come to believe. Jesus’ family once said “He is out of his mind” (Mark 7:21), and later it says, “not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5). However, we find out that they believed in time. Those praying in the Upper Room before Pentecost were the apostles, “together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14). Speaking of missionary travel, Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” (1 Cor 9:5).
Mary always believed in the truth about her Son (cf. Luke 1:28, 38), but her sons did not at first (John 7:5), and all of them at least occasionally misunderstood Jesus during His earthly life. Nonetheless, all came to properly understand Him in time, and His brothers even became evangelists for the gospel they once rejected. As we pray for grace to interact with the lost we love so much, we should also pray for their salvation to see what God may do in time.
About David Huffstutler
David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.