1 Corinthians 15:6-7 – After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (NIV)
Recently, I watched a fascinating documentary, hosted by the 700 Club, which discussed the biblical and historical record of Jesus' brothers and other family members. The name given to them in the Greek is "desposyni", meaning "the Lord's family" or "belonging to the Lord". According to the Scriptures, Jesus had four half-brothers, who were known as "James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas" (Matthew 13:55) and at least two sisters, whose names are not mentioned.
Interestingly, during the course of Jesus' ministry, the Gospels plainly tell us that the Lord's brothers did not believe in Him. But Galatians 1:19 specifically mentions "James, the Lord's brother", referring to him as an apostle. Therefore, we can be sure that he saw the risen Lord. Contemplating these thoughts, I found the eyewitness testimony of James most intriguing.
In today's text, Paul said that many who had witnessed the resurrection were still alive at the time of his preaching. Anyone with any doubts about Paul's report could have interviewed those individuals for their own satisfaction. Personally, I would have loved to talk to James because of his unique background. Evidently, like Paul, he did not accept the Lord until after the resurrection.
So, with a little imagination, I wrote the following questions as if I were going to interview James:
- James, tell me why you didn't support your brother's earthly ministry. Mark's Gospel indicates that at some point, your family was convinced that Jesus needed psychological help. What was the basis for this concern?
- What were you and your brothers thinking when you tried to persuade Jesus to go to Judea where his enemies were waiting to take his life? Looking back, do you think that jealousy played a role in your unbelief? What other obstacles may have stood in your way?
- Describe your encounter with the risen Lord. How did that experience affect your life?
Jesus said, "Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:35 NIV) By God's grace, James truly became one of Jesus' desposyni as Christ's resurrection transformed his life forever. Not only is he believed to be the author of the book of James, but also he became the most influential leader in the Jerusalem church until his martyrdom around 62 A.D. James is remembered for his powerful prayer ministry; many nicknamed him "camel knees". He was also known as "James the Just" because of his exceptional character.
Now that you have heard James' amazing testimony, in what ways has the resurrection impacted your life?
Prayer: We praise You, Lord, for the witness of James, Your brother and faithful servant. Use his life as an example and inspiration to us as we seek Your presence in our daily lives. Renew our spirits with the hope and power of Your resurrection through the blessed gift of eternal life. In Your name, we pray. Amen.