James. That small letter in the New Testament. Many think it might be earliest of the NT writings. Most hold to it being written by the brother of Jesus. But let me clearly state that James doesn’t belong on the Bible.
THE WRONG NAME …
Before you unfollow me, make nasty responses in the comments, or call the church to have me fired … let me explain. There are several people named James in our Bible. Brother of John, the Zebedee boys. James the Lesser, one of the twelve. James, the half brother of Jesus. But each of their names need to be stricken.
You see, in the Greek, it’s not James … it’s Jacob. There are no James in the Greek manuscripts. But through the years, the name got translated, altered, mispronounced, and eventually anglicized to James. Maybe King James liked it so much that he made it stick. What’s weird, is when the translators are translating the name when it refers to an Old Testament character (like the patriarch Jacob) they leave it Jacob. Go figure.
THE WRONG START …
James, aka Jacob, had a tough start in his following his brother Jesus. I mean it had to be weird. Your brother is Jesus. Did momma Mary show favoritism? Did they know the stories of how Jesus was born? Did they celebrate Christmas or was it just another birthday party for big bro? (JK)
Jesus’ family didn’t get it. They called him mad. They rejected him. And at the crucifixion, Jesus made it a point to give John the apostle the responsibility of looking after Mary.
THE RADICAL TURNAROUND …
But one of the first people appeared to after the resurrection was James. James believed. There is true power in the resurrection, and once realizes and experiences the living Savior, everything changes. There is much he is known for in his role in the early church. But one of the best stories is the one of his death.
THE RIGHTEOUS END …
Eusebius, an early church historian, tells of James’ martyrdom. The religious leaders take James to the top of the cliff outside the Temple. They confront him on his talking about Jesus who, they say is dead. (Italics are Eusebius’ words).
James preaches to the people … James calls out just as loudly, “Why do you ask me about Jesus? He sits in heaven, at the right hand of God, and will return on the clouds of heaven.” Many of the people are convinced then and there that Jesus is the Resurrected Lord and start praising Him on the spot.
James’ Words provoke the religious leaders … The leaders are beside themselves. They shout to the people, “Oh dear! The just man is confused himself!” and throw James down from that height. But he is not killed, so the leaders start stoning him.
James prays for his persecutors … James does what he has always done. He kneels down and asks God to forgive the Jews. The stones continue to batter his body as a priest yells, “Stop! What are doing? The just one is praying for us!”
James goes home to heaven … A launderer takes the club used to beat clothes and hurls it at James’ head, and the just one finally dies.
Driven from the Temple. Thrown off a cliff. Stoned. And finally beat to death. Through it all, he prays for his oppressors, he proclaims the good news of Jesus, and he stays faithful.
The moral … it doesn’t matter your past, your start, your baggage … if you experience the power of the resurrected Savior, everything will change. And what people will remember, is how you end.