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Friday, November 23, 2012

The Guy Who Grew Up with Jesus

I began reading the book of James this morning. I only read the first chapter, but I was blown away (again) by all the practical instruction in so few verses of Scripture. My immediate impression was, if you obey only this chapter, you will be well on your way in spiritual growth.

The author of the book of James is the half brother of the Lord Jesus, James. Picture with me: a fairly large family, living in a carpenter’s home. The eldest child is perfect. He never does anything wrong, never sasses His parents, always obeys, never tells a lie, never hits His brothers or sisters . . . . And, Mama tells the other kids that Jesus is special; He’s the Son of God. The angel Gabriel told her, and Elisabeth told her, and Anna told her, and Simeon told her. When He was born, shepherds came to worship Him. When He was a little bigger, wise men from the East came and gave Him expensive gifts. “This was before you were born.” Father adds, “Yes, an angel told me all about it, too. And, angels sang at Jesus’ birth. I will never forget that night . . . .“

James was one of those little brothers. He grew up with these tales in his head. And he rejected them.

When his half brother had a world-famous ministry of preaching, healing, and miracles, James still refused to believe in Him. So did his brothers. (John 7:5)

Jesus died, horribly tortured and nailed to a cross. He was buried. I wonder what James was thinking, then.

Three days later, James hears the amazing news. Jesus is risen! 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 tell us that, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter, then the twelve disciples, then to five hundred believers at once, then to James, and to the apostles. Why did Jesus make a special appearance to James?

Sometime between Jesus’ appearing to him and Acts 1:14, James and his brothers believed. They’re with over a hundred other believers in an upper-room prayer meeting. By Acts 12, James was a leader in the early church. (See also Acts 15:13-29; 21:17-18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12; and Jude 1. By the way, Jude was another of the Lord’s half brothers.)

James might be the earliest penned epistle in the New Testament, before Paul’s letters. We don’t know for sure. His letter may have been written a while before Paul’s (48-50 A.D.). The Jewish historian Josephus records James’ martyrdom in 62 A.D..

Keeping in mind James’ background, family, unbelief, and his path to faith, enjoy reading his very practical teaching of Scripture. Isn’t it wonderful that God used James to write a book of His Word? It’s another evidence of His mercy.

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