Welcome back to day 18 in this Advent series on “Parenting Jesus”!
One of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar is the Day of Atonement. Once – only once – each year, the High Priest entered the Holiest Place and made atonement for the sins of the nation. This day was marked by solemn penitence and fasting. In contrast, five days later, the next celebration on the Jewish calendar was the most popular feast of the year, the Festival of Booths. This was a joyous celebration of the harvest, marked by bounteous amounts of food much like our Thanksgiving.
In John 7, Jesus’ brothers announced that they were heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Booths. What caused the brothers to travel many miles to celebrate the later festival when, given a choice, one might expect them to have gone to Jerusalem for the far more important event? Were they avoiding the serious business of atonement and instead opting for the fun of a harvest feast? Was this like celebrating the fun of Santa Claus without remembering the Christ of Christmas?
When Jesus said he was not planning to go along, the brothers scoffed, “If you really are doing the things you say you can do, then you should show yourself to the world!” Can you imagine Mary’s feelings as she listened to her younger sons mocking their older brother? Mary’s heart must have ripped in two when she saw that some of her children did not believe. But the story did not end there. Years later, Mary experienced joy when she saw her son James choose to follow Jesus and even go on to lead the church in Jerusalem.
Are there members of your family that are not following the Lord? Don’t give up praying. The last chapter has not yet been written!