In the middle of the First lesson for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, from Acts 1:12-26, we read in verse 14, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to pray, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers.” I suspect that when we read that lesson last Sunday we simply passed over the presence of Mary and Jesus’ brothers. Of course, they were there.
However, the Gospel lesson in the LCMS for Pentecost is John 7:37-39. Jesus is teaching in the temple during the Feast of Booths. He does so amid a rumor mill working overtime regarding his identity. Even though people were seeking to kill him his brothers urged him to go to Judea and show himself to the world. Then John writes, “For not even his brothers believed in him.” (John 7:50) So, when his brothers went up to Jerusalem, Jesus didn’t go with them, but went by himself.
Somewhere during the latter part of Jesus’ ministry his family did come to believe in him. Thus, when we come to the gospel lesson for Trinity Sunday, Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus sends his disciples into all the world, with no qualifications as to who was Gospel worthy.
I think of a man who lived only a couple of doors down from the church where I was pastor. The secretaries informed me that he had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital, however, “there was no use in going to see him, he won’t want to see you.” I said, “I’ll let him decide if he wants me to visit or not.” So, I went to see him. He was receptive. I asked if I could pray with him. He accepted. And about the second or third visit I brought communion.
I can’t remember why he was upset with the congregation, and I don’t think he ever talked about it. But he did return to church.