James: The Skeptical Brother of Jesus
James was the brother of Jesus and the author of the Book of James. Historically, he has been called James the Just. He was also the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. But for now, I will share about him as a little brother, a skeptical brother at that. Jesus was older, stronger, and obviously more holy! He was Mary’s firstborn, and James came later. In opposition to the popular belief, held by many Catholics, that Mary and Joseph had no children after Jesus, the Bible says otherwise (Luke 2:7, Mark 6:3). Jesus had siblings, and James is one of them (Matt. 13:55). He is the little brother of Jesus Christ our Lord!
James and Jesus would have shared all the normal family experiences brother have. James would have felt all the awkward challenges of living in Jesus' shadow: outwrestled, outwitted, and schooled in his knowledge of Scripture by his big brother. Because their family was Jewish, they would have visited to the synagogue regularly, read the Torah daily, and made pilgrimages to the Temple in special occasions. James would have spent much time memorizing the Torah (the first five book of our Bible and some 613commandments).
Even though James grew up in a family of faith and knew the Scripture, this didn’t mean he believed Jesus was the Messiah. We don’t know exactly why James was skeptical, but we can imagine the reasons. Growing up with Jesus, James would have seen His miracles, but James was just like you and I. When we see modern-day miracles, our faith soars to new heights and yet a few days later we can be down in the dumps wondering where God is. Ultimately, we need to remember James was HUMAN. His greatest struggle was faith. His brother was the Son of God? The Messiah? It was hard for Jesus’ siblings to swallow. Imagine saying, “My brother is God.” Or “My brother is King of Kings.” In that day under Roman rule, that kind of statement was treason, punishable by death (John 19:19). Perhaps Jesus’siblings didn’t really want to believe. Believing in Jesus as Lord would have meant they needed to worship him. Who wants to worship their big brother? Joseph would have taught his son James and the other siblings about their oldest brother's position as Messiah, but many scholars believe Joseph died after their family traveled to the temple in Jerusalem in their childhood (Luke 2:41-52). As the years
passed and Jesus grew into a man, his reputation spread due to his miracles, incredible reaching, and healing the sick and lame. Jesus' fame brought controversy. Some thought he was a prophet, some a crazy man, others the Son of God! The gospel of John tells what his brothers thought: “not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:6 ESV). In that time, to believe in Jesus as Lord could mean being executed as a traitor or shunned as a heretic! While we have every indication to believed that Mary’s faith was strong throughout the life of Christ, James on the other hand is another story. So what changed in this skeptical man? In the next blog you will find out.
1) How can you relate to this?
2) What do you think it would have been like to be a brother or sister of Jesus?
3) How do think God was using this life experience to grow James?