18th August 2017

From Non-Believers to Believers 

“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Acts 1:14 (NIVUK)

Have you ever noticed the contrast between the passage above and John 7:5, where we read that “even his own brothers did not believe in him”? The Gospels note that Jesus had four brothers: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.

What happened to make his brothers have a change of heart? Two of them, James and Judas (Jude), went on to write epistles that were placed in the canon of the New Testament. The New Testament does not give many clues save for the obvious. They must have been convicted by the Holy Spirit, and thus responded to grace. Did their kinship relationship to Jesus Christ make a difference? Did their mother, Mary, have an influence? Was their decision about grace a gradual one? When Jesus told Mary Magdalene after his resurrection: “‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17), was she sent to his physical brothers as well as to the disciples? Perhaps. Were his brothers among the “five hundred of the brothers and sisters” to whom the resurrected Christ appeared, as Paul records in 1 Corinthians 15:6? I suspect they were, and imagine how emotional it would have been for them to see their own brother, who had been crucified, risen from the dead.

Jude makes a telling comment at the end of his epistle. He writes, “Be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 22). Was he talking from personal experience, that Jesus, his brother, always showed him mercy and grace? Is this what began the process of Jude’s moving from non-believer to believer?

Jude’s words are instructive for us, both in the family setting and outside of it, that we demonstrate the grace of Jesus to those who don’t embrace what we believe. Perhaps, in this way, we can be involved in helping others have a change of heart.

Thank you, God,  for the stories in the Bible that inspire us and instruct us, and help us please to show mercy and grace to those who doubt. In Jesus, name.

Study by James Henderson


About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Or email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

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