Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Jesus’ Early Family Life
WHEN Jesus is growing up in Nazareth, it is a rather small, unimportant city. It is located in the hill country of an area called Galilee, not far from the beautiful Jezreel Valley.
When Jesus, perhaps about two years old, is brought here from Egypt with Joseph and Mary, he is evidently Mary’s only child. But not for long. In time, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas are born, and Mary and Joseph become parents to girls too. Eventually Jesus has, at the very least, six younger brothers and sisters.
Jesus has other relatives too. We already know about his older cousin John, who lives many miles away in Judea. But living closer by in Galilee is Salome, who apparently is Mary’s sister. Salome is married to Zebedee, so their two boys, James and John, would be Jesus’ cousins. We do not know if, while growing up, Jesus spent much time with these boys, but later they became close companions, as we will see.
Joseph has to work very hard to support his growing family. He is a carpenter. Joseph raises Jesus as his own son, so Jesus is called ‘the carpenter’s son.’ Joseph teaches Jesus to be a carpenter too, and he learns well. That is why people later say of Jesus, ‘This is the carpenter.’
The life of Joseph’s family is built around the worship of Jehovah God. In keeping with God’s law, Joseph and Mary give their children spiritual instruction ‘when they sit in their house, when they walk on the road, when they lie down, and when they get up.’ There is a synagogue in Nazareth, and we can be sure that Joseph also regularly takes his family along to worship there. But no doubt they find their greatest enjoyment in regular trips to Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem, as we will consider in our next article. Matthew 13:55, 56; 27:56; Mark 15:40; 6:3; Deuteronomy 6:6-9.
◆ How many younger brothers and sisters did Jesus have, and what were the names of some of them?
◆ Who were three well-known cousins of Jesus?
◆ What was Jesus’ secular occupation?