Did Jesus deal with difficult unchangeable features?
Unchangeable features such as family, ethnicity, and time in history have a great influence in our lives. Sometimes these characteristics are difficult to accept. They can bring challenges into our lives and cause others to reject us.
Jesus Christ experienced the same defining features in His life. Scripture assures us that Jesus can sympathize with our struggles because He was tested in the same areas in which we are tested. (See Hebrews 4:15–16.)
During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ had to deal with the following unchangeables:
1. His Parents: A Shadow of Illegitimacy
Since Mary and Joseph were not married when Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit, others assumed that Jesus’ birth was the result of fornication. Joseph himself prepared to terminate their betrothal until an angel confirmed Mary’s integrity. (See Matthew 1:18–25.) The Jewish leaders, however, held the circumstances against the couple. In the midst of Christ’s ministry, the Pharisees contemptuously said to Him, “We be not born of fornication … ” (John 8:41).
Also, Christ’s parents were poor. Jesus was born in a stable, and He grew up in a city that was despised by his fellow Israelites. When Philip invited Nathanael to meet Jesus, Nathanael responded, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
2. His Time in History: A Wicked Ruler
When King Herod learned that a king of the Jews had been born, he gave an order to kill all Jewish baby boys two years old and younger in the vicinity of Bethlehem. (See Matthew 2:16.) Imagine how Jesus must have felt, knowing that His birth prompted the murder of many children.
3. His Race: A Despised People
Surrounding nations hated the Israelites and took opportunities to plunder and oppress the Jewish people.
4. His Nation: A Conquered Land
Jesus grew up in a land that had been conquered by Rome and was occupied by Roman soldiers. Ultimately, the Romans crucified Him. (See Luke 2:1–3 and John 18:28–19:30.)
5. His Gender: A Predetermined Vocation
In the day of Christ, sons were trained in the vocation of their fathers. Even though Jesus came to earth with a special mission from His heavenly Father, He was expected to labor in His earthly father’s trade until He was thirty years old. Consequently, when Jesus began His ministry, He was not known as the Son of God but rather as the carpenter’s son. (See Luke 3:23 and Matthew 13:55.)
6. His Birth Order: A Lifetime Responsibility
Jesus was the firstborn son and as such was responsible to care for the family if anything happened to His father. During Christ’s youth, His father did die. Thereafter, Jesus assumed the continuing care of His widowed mother. Christ fulfilled this responsibility until His death, when He transferred Mary’s care to His disciple, John. (See John 19:26–27.)
7. His Family: A Prophet Without Honor
People are often misunderstood or rejected by their own family members. Christ experienced this challenge during His ministry as well. His friends accused Him of being insane, and His mother and brothers came to His place of preaching to take Him home. (See Mark 3:21–22, 3:31–32.) His brothers’ actions demonstrated their unbelief. (See John 7:5.)
8. His Appearance: A Lack of Beauty
We do not have a detailed description of Christ’s appearance during His earthly ministry, but He did not possess unusually handsome features. “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).
9. His Divine Nature: An Offense to Friends
When Jesus stood up in the synagogue of His hometown and declared Who He was and what He had come to do, His own friends and neighbors were so offended they wanted to kill Him. (See Luke 4:16–30.)
10. His Death: A Public Shame
The time and circumstances of Jesus’ death were chosen for Him. Crucifixion was the most painful and ruthless form of execution devised by man. (See Galatians 3:13.) It was a sentence reserved for the worst offenders.
The specific circumstances of Jesus’ life fulfilled Biblical prophecy and equipped Him to complete His redemptive mission. Similarly, God prescribes our unchangeable features according to His design. We should not view them as “defects” but as carefully designed components that will bring glory to God and fulfill His purposes.
This information is adapted from pages 124–125 of the Basic Seminar Follow-Up Course.