WHO WERE THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF JESUS CHRIST?
Before a clear understanding of the context of perfection in the grand designer of the universe and everything therein can be appreciated intelligibly, a deeper insight into the master plan is a pre-requisite or sine qua non. Coming from the early days of creation, mankind wore the image of God and enjoyed his presence in the Garden of Eden where every good thing was in abundance. Doing the will of God was uppermost in the minds of our fore parents, Adam and Eve, until Devil came into the picture. The result of that encounter was disobedience and subsequent loss of paradise. The whole picture then changed. Happiness was gone while suffering and death took its place. Wickedness and acts of injustice became rife and the scenario was that of hopelessness and despair until God intervened.
God set up a roadmap to the way of bringing salvation to mankind. He pronounced judgment on the serpent “I will make you and the woman hate each other, her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head and you will bite his heel (Genesis 3:15 -Good News Bible Today’s English Version) From this moment intensive preparations were outlined and thorough details in the qualities of this woman fit to be the mother of mankind’s saviour devoid of error were carved out by God for the sole purpose of being the mother of Jesus Christ. She must be of Immaculate Conception i.e. without original sin inherited from Adam. Again she must be a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). There are other qualities which abound in the bible but these two are necessary for this write up.
A little digression is of utmost importance to elucidate the painstaking preparations made by God in bringing into being of this woman. The encounter between angel Gabriel and a girl promised in marriage to a man named Joseph would throw more light into this discussion. In Luke 1:28 the meeting began thus; The angel (Archangel Gabriel) came to Mary and said “Peace be with you; The lord is with you and has greatly blessed you.” It has to be borne in mind that Mary was probably a girl of about fifteen years and could not have merited these heavenly commendations by her sanctimonious achievements at such a tender age, God himself pronounced that he has greatly favoured her and found her worthy to be the mother of the expected messiah. Mary acknowledged this grace because she sang. “From now on all people will call me happy because of the great things the mighty God has done for me. His Name is holy”. (Luke 1:48-49)
It therefore goes to reason that this program for the salvation of mankind was riddled with thorough theory and research to ensure water tight arrangement. Jesus Christ, son of God had to take human nature so as to be able to mingle and teach human beings the way to salvation. A woman specially prepared had to be available for the role of the mother of God, as we believe, or the mother of son of God, as others assert. But it is an established fact that the son of God is God as the son of man is man.
This called up the question of bringing forth a perfect person. Human beings have all sinned and come short of the glory of God because of the sin of one man, Adam (Romans 3:23), But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets us free. This pre-supposes that a sinless Jesus had to be borne by a woman specially prepared by God. The disobedience of Adam to God’s instruction brought about the original sin of man.
The DMA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) of Jesus would match that of Mary since she was the biological mother of Jesus. Mary’s genetic factors ran through his blood veins. Therefore, for Mary to give birth to perfect Jesus informed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, that is, Mary was conceived without original sin of Adam, She was created for the sole purpose of bearing the messiah who was guilty of no sin (John 8:46). The holy book of Islam testifies to the veracity of the above assertion. Koran chapter 3 verse 33 implies that Mary was born without original sin, was ever virgin and never committed any sin in her life. She was consecrated when she was still in her mother’s womb. It reads Lo! Allah preferred Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of Imam above (all his) creatures. They were descendants of one another. Allah is Hearer, knower. (Remember) when the wife of Imam said “My Lord! I have vowed unto thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me lo! Thou alone thou art the hearer, the knower. And when she was delivered she said: my lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female -Allah knew best of what she was delivered. The male is not as the female and lo! I have named her Mary and lo! I crave thy protection for her and for her offering from Satan the outcast” (Koran3:33-35). It is not in doubt about the perpetual virginity of Mary which presupposes that no other maternal brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ existed. But who were then the siblings mentioned in the bible?
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus Christ, a poor carpenter belonged to the low class of the society and was not regarded with much interest in the secular world. He was probably if not obviously much older than Mary, took major decisions in running the holy family and carried out this heavy assignment that God had given to him, to care for and raise this unique child. He faced daunting challenges and protected his family against the forces of nature and evil men like King Herod. Joseph was a man well experienced in life, upright and obedient. He was last mentioned in the bible when Jesus was twelve years old at the Passover festival in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-45).
When Jesus began his ministry of spreading the good news about the kingdom of God, he was trailed by his mother all alone without her husband, Joseph. This informs the presumption that he died before Jesus was thirty years old. If that was the case, when did Mary give birth to the other six or more brothers and sisters of Jesus? Who was the husband who fathered these other ones? Remember “Though he (Joseph) had not had
Intercourse with her (Mary), she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:25-Jerusalem Bible). This manifests that Joseph did not have marital relationship with Mary before and after the birth of Jesus.
The brothers and sisters of Jesus were simply half brothers and
sisters. According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary International Students Edition – “A person’s half brother is a boy or man with either the same mother or the same father as they have” The same applies to half sister. Mary was therefore the step mother of the brothers and sisters of Jesus. After the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension into heaven, the disciples usually gathered in the upper room “They gathered frequently to pray as a group together with the women and Mary mother of Jesus Christ and with his brothers “(Act 1:14) It takes wisdom to discern the beauty of phrasing the passage and its implied meaning. Mary was specifically referred to as the mother of Jesus Christ. She was not said to be the mother of his brothers. Rather she was mentioned as staying with his brothers and not her sons during the frequent gathering of Jesus disciples for prayers in the upper room. Who were then Jesus brothers? These were probably from an earlier marriage of Joseph. In the Apocryphal gospels or the lost books of the bible or the forbidden gospels as some choose to call them, the proto-gospel of James also called the birth of Mary attested to this doctrine of Immaculate Conception and perpetual virginity of Mary.
In December 1945 near Nag Hamada in Upper Egypt peasants came upon 13 papyrus manuscripts containing 52 texts of The Apocryphal Gospels. Of course these gospels were in scrolls and circulated freely with other scrolls from which were compiled the canonical gospels found in the bible. History will vindicate the basis of the selection.
It is known that Joseph was alive when Jesus was 12 years old. At that age many Jewish youth began to learn their father’s trade and became apprentices at 15. Joseph evidently lived long enough to teach Jesus to be a carpenter. In our cultural setting it is abnormal to leave an interval of about 15 years before having another baby if the mother or father has no health issues or does not develop one. The same applies to the Jewish culture as in elsewhere. Yet no mention was made of Mary having other children after Jesus was 12 years old in the bible. This aptly suggests that these other brothers and sisters of Jesus did not have Mary and Joseph as the biological parents.
Anybody that teaches otherwise or joins those that do so belong to the “Enemy of Christ” and now many enemies of Christ have already appeared and so we know the end is near. These people really did not belong to our fellowship and that is why they left us (1 John 2:18-19).
CREDIT : This article is composed
By E.S.OFOMAH CPA. MBA.
E S Ofomah writes from St. David’s Catholic Parish, Azigbo. Reactions are welcome and should be channelled through the above address or via mobile phone number 08101327059.