Sharon’s letter grabbed my attention. She loved my books—couldn’t put them down. But she had never opened a Bible. “I can’t get into it,” she told me.
And suddenly I knew what God was calling me to do. Sure I could introduce people to God through fiction, I could give them Scripture and lessons rooted in God’s word and I could speak to them through the backdoor of their hearts. But how was I using my storytelling to draw people closer to Scripture, to a love for the Bible?
I began to think about biblical characters, and that led me to the family of Jesus. What must it have been like, being Mary, bearing the scorn of her Nazareth community and very nearly losing Joseph?
What of Joseph? Leading Mary on a donkey to Bethlehem, while she was days from delivering? The journey had to be terrifying. Did he cry out to God in desperation? Did he notice the marking of a cross on the back of the donkey—the same marking on the back of every donkey? And did he maybe comfort Mary and tell her, “Just focus on the cross. I’ll get us over this ridge.”?
The sorrow felt by Elizabeth and Zechariah over being childless riveted me, as did the couple’s exuberant joy over the birth of John. Did they live long enough to see John captured and put in prison? It’s possible. Were these elderly parents devastated by their son’s beheading? Did they wonder at the plan of God?
And maybe did Mary make a trek to see Elizabeth, to sit with her and cry with her? Elizabeth had taught Mary how to welcome a child. Now did Elizabeth teach Mary how to let go? How to get up in the morning and still remember to breathe through the pain?
These questions filled my heart and I began to allow these family members of Jesus to take shape. Stories began to grow and develop and I began to take notes, outlining each of the characters.
From the beginning Scripture was, of course, unchangeable. The anchor points. But between the Bible verses about these people, I allowed myself to do what I do best – I told a story.
The question for the theologians who helped me became this:
Was it possible?
Could Joseph have brought wild orchids to Mary? They grew in Nazareth at that time, so yes. It was possible.
In this way – staying true to the Bible, to culture, and to the time period – I wrote six fictional pieces on the characters that made up the family of Jesus. Then I wrote a Bible Study section on each character, so that you could determine what was real and what was storytelling.
What happened next could only be God’s hand at work.
My friends at LifeWay read the Bible Study and loved it. One woman said, “Everyone needs this. Your book made me cry and at the end I realized I had never loved Jesus more.”
The team at LifeWay wanted to come alongside me and develop a curriculum so you and your friends could dig deeper, exploring the very real lives of these special characters. We filmed a video series and developed a workbook.
Now, all of that will be available in July under the name The Family of Jesus. Every time I think about this book I smile. Because I’ve always wanted a way to point people to the Bible, to help them fall in love with God’s word the way I love it. But there is one person I think about more than any other.
So, Sharon, if you’re reading this just know that I wrote The Family of Jesus with you in mind. I pray this study helps you get into the Bible, and that in doing so your life would be changed forever. Only Jesus can do that!
Click here for a FREE sample of The Family of Jesus.
Number one New York Times best-selling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s favorite inspirational novelist with more than 20 million copies of her award-winning books in print. Karen has more than a dozen novels that have hit #1 on national lists. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, Don, and their five sons, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.