Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.
Psalm 146:1 (NLT)
Series Focus: “Piece by Piece”
If you have ever been misjudged, betrayed, treated like a fraud or a liar, you are not alone. This was exactly what Jesus faced in His ministry. In the past, when I’ve experienced these feelings, I would set out for revenge, or at least to prove my innocence. But Jesus didn’t operate this way. There is no place for vengeance, hatred, or getting even when we choose to follow Him. His saving grace gives us strength to choose better. But when we stumble, we can come to Him and receive gracious correction, by confessing our sin.
Today, we meet a man who knew Jesus very well. He grew up with Him, shared meals with Him, worked with Him, and witnessed His ministry on Earth. This man was Jesus’ half brother, James. Born to the same family, grew up in the same home, but he could not see the truth lying right in front of him. While Jesus walked among them, he never accepted that He was the Messiah.
Let’s think about what it might have been like for James. Imagine living with a sibling who never lied, sinned, or disobeyed. Whether James and the other half-siblings were envious or possibly compared to Jesus, we don’t know for sure. But Jesus’ wisdom about God’s Word wasn’t enough to convince James of the truth.
When Jesus began His adult ministry, he was teaching and performing miracles throughout the land. When Jesus returned to His home, they met Him with doubt and condemnation. In Matthew 13:54-58 we read:
and coming to His hometown He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in His hometown and in His own household.” And He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. (ESV)
James, along with the rest of the brothers and sisters, continued to deny the truth of who Jesus was all the way to His death on the cross. John 7:5, confirms this:
For not even his brothers believed in him. (ESV)
James’ story didn’t end with Jesus in the tomb—it began. Jesus appeared to James after the resurrection. James’ unbelief turned to belief which led to his attendance in the upper room. He, along with the other apostles, awaited the Holy Spirit to descend upon them, as Jesus had directed.
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14 ES)
In Acts 12, we learn about Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. Peter’s instructions were to tell James and the others of this happening. James was a pillar in leadership of the church in Jerusalem. He became known as James the Just. Leading the church for many years, He was a respected, faithful leader and believer in Christ. When James witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, he did not know what that would mean for his life. He took one step at a time and his path unfolded bit by bit. Not only was James a monumental leader of the church in Jerusalem, he proclaimed as Peter did, the saving grace from God was also for the Gentiles. Read Acts:13:15-17:
After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘“After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ (ESV)
The Book of James is a letter written to encourage us to live out our faith and be doers of God’s Word, not just hearers. His teaching aligns with what Jesus preached and digs deep to the core of man’s fleshy desires. He writes of persevering through our trials and asking for wisdom. He warns us about our words to one another, our anger, and the deceiver who turns us against each other.
The power of the Holy Spirit overflowed in James. His story is full of faith, strength, and passion for the Word of God. We watched him move from unbeliever to believer, to leader and teacher, and eventually to martyr. He opens his letter by introducing himself in James 1:1:
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (ESV)
James never uses his relationship with Jesus to sway us in his epistle. He calls himself a servant of God and the Lord Jesus. He proclaims Jesus, his Lord, in the first sentence of his writing. How beautiful a story, built on God’s power to transform a heart.
Were you like James once? Jesus was drawing you in, but you turned away. He called your name, but you couldn’t hear His voice. And one day your fight was over, doubt gone, and heart opened—you became His child. Oh, what a glorious day!
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Psalm 146:1; Matthew 13, John 7:5, Acts 1, 12, 13; James 1-5