The Gospels, unlike modern biographies, do not tell us much about the personal life of Jesus. This is because the Gospels are essentially ‘statements of faith’, not descriptions of family life and relationships. The little that seeps through however, is intriguing.
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a village in Galilee. He spent his childhood, his adolescence, and even his young adulthood in this place, and some of the names of his ‘brothers’ are known to us. Mostly they were in fact his cousins, closely knit together in the large extended families of those days. As such, they felt a proprietary right over Jesus, for he was one of them, in all that he said and did.
When Jesus became famous through his teaching and his healings, there must have been both pride and envy in his family. Pride, because “one of our boys” has made good and showed the world what Nazareth can be; and envy too, because Jesus always seemed “so ordinary, while now suddenly he’s become so different”. So, “where did he get it all from ?”
Certainly there was irritation, turning to anger when Jesus refused to work many miracles in his hometown. The Gospels say he was saddened because of their “lack of faith”. This meant that his relatives and acquaintances refused to accept that Jesus could be more than what they thought he was: an artisan, and the son of a carpenter just like them, and probably too with dubious birth antecedents, as the term “son of Mary”, and not ‘of Joseph’ seems to imply.
Right from the beginning, Jesus would never work a miracle just to show off. Whenever he healed someone, he asked them to place their trust in him, to believe in what he stood for, to open their hearts to ‘the kingdom of heaven’ – new values in life. This, his townspeople were reluctant to do. They felt they knew it all, and weren’t going to be taught by this young upstart.
Yes, a prophet is never without honour, except in his own country.