Introduction to James

Thanks for accepting the challenge and joining us on this journey through the book of James.  There are times when scripture can be difficult to understand and apply.  James however is straight forward and to the point.  As Rick Warren might say, it, “puts the cookies on the bottom shelf”.  As you will discover, James is a powerful book written from a unique perspective–James is Jesus’ little brother.

Thinking about brothers always makes me reflect on my own.

My older brother was both a mystery and a fascination to me growing up.  The seven years that separated us seemed like an inscrutable gap.  Though raised within the same four walls, I looked at him more often like an alien, a foreigner, a curiosity to be studied and then ultimately ignored.  As a teenager, however, this view began to change.

It was a clear fall day as we sat across a picnic table from each other.  I had my heart broken by “the love of my life” and was a snot-filled weepy mess.  Micah had asked me to walk with him over to the park by our house for a chat.  This was a strange request and possibly the first time he had ever offered to “chat”.  But I went with it, and was glad I did.

I can’t tell you what he said to me that day.  The words didn’t stick.  His actions, his tone and the look in his eyes though are locked in my brain.  In response to my hurt and pain, he offered genuine compassion, kindness and a reminder that he was there to support and care.  He showed me the one thing that I have never doubted since—he was for me.  That afternoon forever changed my view of my big brother.  Ever since, he has become a man I listen to and try to emulate in many ways.

Imagine then how much more powerful was the change in relationship between Jesus and his half-brother James.  How strange was it to be one of Jesus’ little brothers?  To know that there was something distinctly different about your big brother, but not to have the maturity and faith to understand it.

Scripture tells us that when Jesus went public with his identity and ministry, his brothers and sisters were annoyed at best and in outright opposition at worst.  They didn’t get it.  They did not have eyes that allowed them to see beyond the simple brother they grew up with.  For James, the resurrection changed all that.

No longer was Jesus a curious and potentially embarrassing older sibling, he had become Lord in the eyes of his little brother James.  This is clearly revealed in the opening line from the epistle that bears his name.

This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. James 1:1 NLT

Knowing that this James was the half-brother of Jesus makes his self-introduction all the more significant. He does not proclaim himself “the brother of Jesus”, but only a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was not just James’ brother, more importantly, Jesus was his Lord. – David Guzik

During our journey through this letter that James wrote, we will see the Christian faith through unique eyes.  Eyes that may have seen Jesus as different and foreign became eyes of adoration, commitment and service.

An early history of the church says that James was such a man of prayer that his knees had large, thick calluses, making them look like the knees of a camel. It also says that James was martyred in Jerusalem by being pushed from a high point of the temple; the fall did not kill him, and he was beaten to death on the ground as he prayed for his attackers. – David Guzik

My hope is that our view of Jesus and our ways of following him change as we study the writings of James.  Once Jesus became Lord, it forever altered the course of his little brother’s life.  James is clear, once we allow Jesus to become Lord, the course of our lives must look dramatically different.  This is about transformation and service, about truly becoming Men Who Believe.  Join us.

Reflection:

Who are men that you have gained respect for as you have grown older?

What is attractive about their lives?

Do you view Jesus as a man worth emulating?

What attributes of Jesus would you like to model most?

Suggested Prayer:

Lord Jesus I want to be more the man you have created me to be.  I admit that I get it wrong more often than not.  Help me to learn about you, your example and your model of manhood.  Give me the strength to lean into the areas of my life that need to change.  Amen.

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