In Jerusalem of the first century Jesus of Nazareth was crucified as a heretic. He had neither wife nor children, but He left behind a family: brothers and cousins to great-nephews. And they continued His work and helped to establish the Church.
THE FAMILY OF JESUS
During Jesus ‘ Ministry in Galilee, both Jews and Gentiles recognized Him as the Jewish Messiah. But among those who are hardest to believe, were His own brothers.
Just imagine: one day your older brother comes home and says, “Family, I have wonderful news: I am the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” What would you do? Look in your telephone directory under “psychiatrists”, isn’t it? He is mistaken if He will not die and will not rise from the dead three days later like He said. If this happens, you can put aside the phone book and believe. It was so with His brothers.
JAMES THE JUST
One of the most convincing proofs of the resurrection — the conversion of James, who believed his brother when His earthly life. But now, after the resurrection, to him is Jesus, and there remains no doubt. James becomes the leader of the Church and, moreover, the author of one of the books of the New Testament.
Jacob was a godly man, well known in the Jewish Temple.
In fact, he was called James the Righteous because he was some kind of Saint. It was a great “bridge” between Judaism and Christianity, and he was nicknamed “Camel Knees”: it is so often on his knees that they had hardened and become like the camel.
After the death of Jesus the disciples had appointed James the first Bishop of Jerusalem. He led the first in the history of the Cathedral Church, which took a historic decision that Gentile Christians should not be forced to convert to Judaism. This is very serious! If the Council did not take this decision, it is impossible to assert with confidence, would have survived the Christian Church in General.
The Jerusalem Church survived, but James, like his Brother before, died a violent death.
James considered her as among the priests and among Christians. The scribes and Pharisees thought that I would be able to use it to discredit Christianity. Once they brought him to the temple and demanded to deny Jesus. But he began to defend Christ and to talk about His upcoming spiritual Board. In the end, they threw him off the wing of the temple. Fell, James, did not die immediately, and then someone took a stick to spin the Laundry and hit him on the head. So they killed him.
After his death, the local faithful gathered to elect a new Bishop. And they again decided to support the family.
SIMEON, SON OF CLEOPAS
The second Bishop of the Church was Simeon, or Simon. He was a cousin of Jesus. Allow me to explain. Joseph had a brother named Clopas. And Cleopas had a son named Simeon.
In Luke Cleopas appeared as one of the two people who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The sources of the early Church says that this man was the brother of Joseph the Carpenter. So, he was also an uncle of Jesus.
Simeon became Bishop of Jerusalem in 66. The first Jewish war with Rome had just begun, and the city was under siege, as Jesus had predicted three decades before: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh: then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains; and those in the city, come out of him.” Simeon remembered the words of his cousin and waited for the right moment to leave the city.
In November, 66 in the Roman army for some unknown reason, left Jerusalem for a few weeks. Later this military error historians call catastrophic. But for Simeon it is the so called “mistake” was a miracle. He convinced his flock to flee from Jerusalem. They left the city, having to grab only the clothing. Simeon led them to safety — Gentile town of Pella in the mountains of modern Jordan.
We don’t know why the choice fell on Pella. However, the city lying beyond the river Jordan and was mostly inhabited by Gentiles. So it seems logical to seek refuge in such a place, if you want to avoid control of Jerusalem.
The next four years, Simeon and his tribe safely held in Pella, while in Jerusalem, the Romans killed over a million Jews, and 97 thousand made slaves.
After the war, many believers returned to Jerusalem and settled on mount Zion, near the place where they first received the Holy Ghost, and where Jesus held the last supper with His disciples.
They built a new Judeo-Christian synagogue where once was a room. Simeon was the head man to the 106th year of our era, when he was arrested and tortured by the Romans. Then, Simeon, as his cousin, was crucified. Simeon was 120 years old.
For decades before two other relatives of Jesus attracted the attention of the Roman Emperor Domitian, who staged some of the most brutal in the history of the persecution of Christians.
THE GRANDCHILDREN OF JUDAS
Latest historical information about any members of Jesus ‘ family belong to the grandchildren of Judah. Judas was one of the brothers of Jesus. And his son, whose name is unknown to us, had sons — nephews of Jesus.
Grandsons of Jude were arrested and brought before the Emperor Domitian in Rome, as they were of the house of David, and, therefore, the representatives of the Royal dynasty, the possible claimants to the Jewish throne.
In the past Jesus had predicted the persecution of His followers: “And brought before kings and rulers… and it shall turn to you for a testimony”. Mindful of this prophecy, Grand-nephews of Jesus went boldly to Rome. They were taken to the Palace of Domitian. The Emperor asked them a series of questions, the answers to which depended their lives.
“Tell me more about this “Kingdom of Christ” — was asked of them, Dominician.
He asked them about the Kingdom of Jesus and when it’s installed. The brothers replied that this Kingdom is heavenly, not earthly.
Domitian asked the brothers about their origin and so on. They were peasants, engaged in farming, having a small plot of land. They showed him their hands, rough from farm work, and Domitian decided that they are not like members of the Royal dynasty.
“Take them away. They pose no threat to me,” said the Governor.
Thus, releasing the grandchildren of Judas, the Emperor stopped the persecution of the Church.
Then the brothers returned to the Holy Land, where they were very appreciate for the way they testified before the Emperor in Rome. They were called “desposyni”, which in Greek means “belonging to the Lord”. These people were from the family of the Lord, and then they become even more to read in the Church.
A few years later the two brothers were martyred while another Roman Emperor, Trajan.
Over the next several decades, members of Jesus ‘ family continued to lead the Church in Jerusalem. They do not know anything except the names preserved in documents of the early Church. The last known relative of Jesus was Judas Kyriakos. This Greek name means “Judas Christ”. He was the great-grandson of the brother of Jesus Judas and the last Jewish Bishop of Jerusalem.
In the 130th year of the Emperor Hadrian razed Jerusalem to the ground. On its ruins he built a new city dedicated to the Roman God Jupiter. Documents about the family of Jesus were lost, together with the old city of Jerusalem.
After that the trail is lost, but this does not mean that there are no more relatives of Jesus. We just have no record of them.
The legacy of Jesus ‘ family alive today. Two of His brothers were the authors of the books of the Bible. At least five of His relatives died for the faith. They were devout Jews who became the first Christian bishops of history and kept alive in the early Church of Jerusalem. From there, the words of Jesus, His brother, cousin and uncle has spread to all corners of the earth.
Today we have 2 billion 250 million Christians — the largest and most successful phenomenon that has ever occurred on this planet.
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