Have you ever wondered why so many have trusted Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior over the past two thousand years?
Very few of Jesus’ followers believed in Him enough to stay with Him through His trials and crucifixion. As a matter of fact, God’s Word says all but John and a few women ran away! Yet many came back to trusting Jesus and to spreading the Good News of total forgiveness in Jesus (Colossians 2:9-15). Why? 1Corinthians 15:1-11 reveals that they all saw Jesus after His resurrection. His appearances are even included in the Good News so that we all may know that it is for all who would believe. God will forgive the fearful, the deniers like Peter, the missing in action like the 500, the opposition like Paul, and even skeptics like Jesus’ half- brother, James (Matthew 13:55).
Can you imagine growing up as the younger brother of Jesus? All the stories and great memories would have been of Him! Maybe like the family that took all the pictures of their first born but were too busy to take very many of the rest of the children. How often might James have sat and listened to the stories of the visiting angels, the virgin conception and birth, the shepherds’ visit, the magi, going to Egypt, Anna and Simeon at the Temple, and Jesus being left behind at the Temple (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2). James may very likely have felt some resentment. After all, Jesus was just his big brother with all the body functions — eat, sleep, drink, sweat, cry, laugh, waste elimination- of any other human. Why should He get all the attention?
But things got markedly worse once Jesus started His formal ministry. The responsibilities of the oldest brother were left to James. Jesus no longer worked in the family business or helped support the family. At one point, James, his mother — Mary, and his siblings thought Jesus had lost His senses and tried to bring Him under their control. Jesus put them in their place and lowered them to needing to obey Him like everyone else if they wanted to be in His family (Mark 3:21-35). Tension was building. Jesus wouldn’t even let James announce Him as The Messiah (Christ) at the Feast Of Booths (John 7:1-11). That led to James abandoning his older brother such that he would not even vouch for the birth place and lineage of Jesus (John 7:41-43). We finally see just how angry and skeptical James was toward Jesus as Jesus was hanging on the cross. James was not there for Jesus nor for his mother. Jesus had to entrust His own mother to the Apostle John because James was so skeptical and angry (John 19:25-27). What could ever change the heart of such anger and doubt?
1 Corinthians 15:7 says that after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to James. From then on we see James in the thick of faith in Jesus. He is in the upper room praying for The Holy Spirit with 119 other believers (Acts 1:14). He becomes the head elder of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19; 2:9, Acts 12, 15, 21). James even wrote a book of the Bible — James. In that little letter he could only refer to himself as a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, James, the former skeptic was stoned to death for his faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Only the witnessed resurrection of Jesus Christ could have turned such a mind and heart around.
If you are skeptical of the Christian faith, check out the facts of the resurrection of Jesus. Knowing the story of James, I’m sure you can find the same forgiveness he found.
[Jesus]…”was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead..” – Romans 1:4
Because of Jesus Christ,
Terral Bearden is the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church and a member of Pastors United In Christ.