This James (as distinguished from other James’ in the New Testament) was a half-brother of Jesus… the son of both Mary & Joseph (while Jesus was the Son of Mary & the Holy Spirit). But, James did not believe his half-Brother was the Messiah… the Christ; see John 2:12; Mark 6:3; Matt. 13:53-56; John 7:3-5.
– His Point of Belief? See 1Cor. 15:3-7.
Evidently, James did not believe Jesus was the Christ until Jesus went to the cross and was resurrected. When Jesus was resurrected, one of those He singled out to see was James.
– Early Church Leader; see 1Cor. 12:17; Gal. 1:18,19; Acts 15:1-21; Gal. 2:11,12; Acts 21:17,18
James won a reputation in the early church for his wisdom. He was very practical. His gift of discernment, which meant he had to be convinced of the Resurrection, became a powerful asset in the early church… and James quickly became recognized as a leader.
James chaired the first church council, settling the issue of how/whether Gentiles would be received by the Church. James reminded the group that God was clearly working among non-Jewish believers and that Scripture supported their inclusion. His recommendation won the day.
– His Letter to Christians; the book of James
James demonstrated his practical wisdom in the short NT letter that bears his name. Browse through his letter… keeping in mind it was probably the first NT letter written (and served as a “How-To” Manual for those first Christians), and was written by someone who watched Jesus closely for almost 30 years.
– His Death
In 62AD, Hanan, the High Priest, took advantage of a governmental leadership vacuum to assemble a Sanhedrin who condemned James “on the charge of breaking the law”, then had him executed by stoning. Josephus, the Jewish historian, reports that Hanan’s act was widely viewed as little more than judicial murder and offended a number of “those who were considered the most fair-minded people in the City (Jerusalem), and strict in their observance of the Law”. In response, King Agrippa replaced the high priest.
James died as a martyr… because he believed in the half-Brother he did not believe in for so long.
I cannot imagine how many times James thought back to those years he was wrong… probably most of his life! I wonder if he felt guilty… And I cannot imagine what strength and dependence on God it took to lead while, at the same time, carrying all that baggage.
Maybe YOU feel like you’ve got a lot of baggage from your past you have to carry around. Like James, you will eventually have to recognize Jesus’ death and resurrection was big enough to overcome EVERYTHING… including your past. Trust Jesus today!
You can read the story of this particular James in John 2:12; Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:53-56; John 7:3-5; 1Corinthians 15:3-7; 12:7; Galatians 1:18,19; 2:11,12; Acts 15:1-21; 21:17,18; James 1-5.