James, being the brother of Jesus, experienced very closely the earthly life of our Lord. In this well-researched message, Brother Brandon Byler shares how James was there to observe Jesus’ childhood, ministry, death, and resurrection. He believed the Gospel message of his Brother. He lived and taught a very practical faith and left a legacy to be followed. James was a doer. What are you doing?
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Opening prayer by Curt Wagoner:
Gracious God, heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, would just bless this brother abundantly in a very mighty way? Would you send Your Spirit in a very real way, Father, and move in this assembly this morning? Bless our dear brother. If there’s anything that needs to be purged from his life, would you do that purging right now, at this moment. And give his tongue the ability to just speak, and inspire, and direct us in the ways that You would have us. Father, would you bring thoughts to His mind, perhaps that he’s not even considered and just use him as a vessel in a very mighty way for your glory this morning as we worship together. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Well good morning. My name is Jacob, and I am a slave to my older Brother. Now don’t feel too sorry for me because I am a willing and joyful servant of my older Sibling. And I can assure you that it has not always been this way. I have not always desired to commit myself to my Brother. But it is a decision that took place in my life when I was in my late twenties or early thirties, a defining moment of my life.
I understand that you have come this morning to hear about “James, the Brother of Jesus.” Now that puzzled me a little bit when I heard of that expectation because, you see, I am a brother of Jesus. And there are three others who are also brothers to Him. There’s Joses. There’s Simon. There’s Judas, whom we also call Jude. And there’s me, Jacob – that’s my name. And so I did a little bit of digging to find out who this James person was, and I came to realize that several hundred years after I walked this earth, my name was changed to James! I don’t know how it happened, but it was. Well, if there’s anything that I’ve learned in life, it’s that true wisdom is gentle, and peaceable, and willing to yield. And so, I will try to call myself James this morning, for your sake.
However, I must say as I think back over my upbringing, it was such a wonderful experience. My older Brother’s name, of course, is Jesus. And we do not have the same father, but we have the same mother. He, of course, was conceived miraculously through the power of the Holy Spirit in our mother Mary. And my father was Joseph. We were both raised by our earthly parents, Joseph and Mary. And my parents were very devout people. I had such a wonderful upbringing in the home. They were so proud of the Jewish heritage that they had received. They had such visions and dreams for the legacy they wished to pass on to us as their children. And that’s why they named me Jacob; when you think about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, there’s importance there. And not only were they thinking of the patriarch, but they were thinking of my grandfather; my father’s father’s name is Jacob. And so that’s why they gave me that name.
Of course, the Person that I’m most passionate about is my Brother. When I think about our growing up years, I’m a bit amazed when I think about how normal everything was. I did not think of my Brother as perfect, for sure; I got irritated at Him. I did not understand Him many times. Can you imagine what it’s like to live with a Brother Who is perfectly obedient? It’s annoying! I just chalked it up to personality, or somehow He was just willing to bend and do whatever mom and dad said, but overall we had a very happy family. There was five of us brothers, there were several sisters, and other than a brief sojourn in Egypt (which I was too young to remember), we grew up in Judea just like most every other Jewish family.
One of the things that sticks out to me was the importance that my parents placed on spiritual priorities. One of the main ways they illustrated that was how they made a yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. We knew that if dad and mom were at all able to make that trip, we would all get to go along, travel with aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors to go to Jerusalem and engage in that feast. Talk about instilling spiritual values in a family! Maybe that’s some of what you’re doing here today in coming to this place called Roxbury, this Kingdom Fellowship Weekend thing. Maybe it’s a bit of a yearly pilgrimage for your family to instill spiritual values. Anyway, that’s what we experienced as we were growing up.
There was that one incident where my Brother was twelve, and the Passover had happened, we had a great time, we were traveling back from Jerusalem, and Jesus was a normal twelve year old; we just all assumed that He was out playing with cousins, or traveling with neighbors. We went a whole day without even realizing He wasn’t even with us. And, well that caused a lot of tension and concern. We had to drop out of the caravan, turn around, go back to Jerusalem, and try to find, figure out what happened to my Brother. And, I was a little concerned, but He’s twelve. He’s able to take care of Himself. And besides that, I had to leave my cousins and friends to turn around and go look for Him. But you know what, we found Him, and I thought “Aha, He messed up.” In fact, mom even rebuked Him. And then He said something to the effect of, “Well, don’t you know I need to be about My Father’s business?” I tell you what, He was something else! I just personality or disposition; I sure did not think Divinity.
Well, time moved on, we grew up as all young people do, right? Our father passed away, and Jesus as the oldest in our family now had responsibility to care for mom and for us as the brothers and sisters. And of course, all of us boys, we learned the trade of our father in carpentry, and so providing and protecting was no hard difficulty for us. We were glad to do that.
But somewhere in the late twenties or early thirties, Jesus really began to do some unusual things. He started gathering His disciples. He was teaching some powerful things, things that caught my attention. And we weren’t sure exactly what to make of it all. In fact, crowds started to gather to Him, and you know, the things that He was saying really stuck out to me because I had grown up with Him. I could verify that He had lived everything that He was teaching. There was no question about that. I really couldn’t put it all together.
I remember one occasion when the crowds were really thronging around Him, and several of us decided we needed to stage an intervention. We needed to go rescue Him. He’s going mad! He needs to be saved from Himself before He gets completely done in by the crowd. Now that didn’t work.
Then on another occasion, some time later, several of us brothers thought, well, if we can’t rescue Him from Himself, maybe we just tell Him to go out there and put it all out there in the open. So we said, “Hey, this Passover is coming up in Jerusalem. Why don’t you just go show Yourself to the world. That’s what you ought to do if this is all true and right what you’re saying.” Well, He didn’t do that, either.
Personally, I had my own set of concerns. My concern was that as the next oldest, if something happened to Him, then obviously the responsibility of the family would fall on me. So there was personal issues that I was dealing with in what was going on with my Brother. But you know, His teachings were something I couldn’t get out of my mind. It was so influential because I knew Him. Even though I certainly was no convert of His.
And then it happened. There was just this awful conclusion. In Jerusalem, it was over the time of the Passover, we traveled up as we had year after year after year. But that year things were different. That year my Brother was arrested and He was tried. He was unfairly tried. He was turned over to the Romans and He was crucified. I can’t express to you how devastated we as a family felt. The shock. The grief. The shame. Our Brother went from being a household name to being a national disgrace. We didn’t know what to do with all that was happening. There was the hasty burial. The somber silent Sabbath. The shock. The grief. We didn’t know what to do.
And then the events took an even stranger turn. Suddenly there were report that there were sightings of my Brother. That He was alive again. That there was an empty tomb. Grave clothes left behind. We were thick in the midst of grief and we weren’t sure what to make of all of this. But then the defining moment happened. Several days after the crucifixion and the accounts of these strange happenings, my Brother appeared to me. Suddenly He was there. I could hardly believe it. So surreal, but it was real. And we were able to talk. And suddenly everything that I observed and thought about His life, His miracles, His ministry, His message, suddenly it all came together and I understood. I understood Who my Brother was, and it was at that moment that I committed myself to Him to be His bond-servant, His slave, His joyful subject.
Of course, He ascended to heaven a couple of weeks later, but His presence is still so real to us. So real to me. From that personal encounter, everything has changed about my passion and purpose in life. My desire now is for His Kingdom to come, and His will to be done everywhere. And so my challenge to you is this: hear my Brother’s words. But don’t just hear them. Be a doer of the words that you hear. Commit to being a bond-servant of His. Thank you for listening to my message today.
Grace to you and peace be multiplied. My name is Brandon James Byler. We just had James, quote, unquote, share a testimony with us. I’d like to share a few more details with you about this man. His name really is Jacob. Those of you who are Greek readers know that from reading your Greek New Testament text. But we’ll stick with James because that’s how we know Him best.
It is difficult at times to keep track of the James’ because there’s a number of them. It was a common name in that time. At least four James’ are mentioned in the New Testament. The first James, we’ll look at just three of them to delineate who they were. The first one is of the “Peter James and John had a little sailboat” fame, brother to John. We understand he was the older brother, since we was always listed first, and that Peter along with those two others, the sons of Thunder, carried on a fishing enterprise together. They were the sons of Zebedee and had quite fiery temperaments. There were two James’ who were the disciples of Christ, and seems that they were given nicknames to differentiate them one from the other, must like we might do today with David or Michael; and those are great names, but often there are several David’s or several Michael’s, so we designate them. Same happened in Scripture, we have “James the Greater” or just “James.” And then the second James we want to define was “James the Less.” It doesn’t mean he was less than James the Greater, it doesn’t even mean he was smaller, but it may indicate that he was younger. So we think of James Senior and James Junior, both being a part of the twelve.
James Senior or James the Greater was killed by Herod Agrippa I in approximately 44 AD. He was the first of the twelve to be martyred. James the Less, also called the Son of Alpheus, and we really don’t know a lot of what happened to him after Pentecost. It’s possible that he became the leader of the church in Syria.
And then the third James is the one that we’re focusing on today. He was one of Jesus’ four brothers, and in the several places where the brothers are listed by name, James’ name always comes first so we speculate that he was the second oldest brother in the family.
We don’t have any indication of James become a believer until after the resurrection. The apostle Paul says this in First Corinthians 15; he’s talking about the various people to whom Jesus revealed Himself, and verse seven Paul says:
7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
Our understanding would be that that revelation took place between the resurrection and the ascension.
The next time that we hear about James is in Acts 1:14. You recall that Jesus has just ascended to heaven, and the people that were there went back to Jerusalem to the upper room to await the promised giving of the Spirit. And Luke says:
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Our understanding being that James was with them.
So we think back to John 7 where it says that His brothers did not believe in Him. Now His brothers are in the upper room seeking this gift of the Holy Spirit. Something happened. And it’s possible, and I’m speculating there, that perhaps their unbelief in John 7 wasn’t so much unbelief as it was disbelief, or a difficulty to believe. We grew up with this Guy. We know Him. What does it mean for my Brother to be the King of the Kingdom of God?
It’s likely that James was married, even though we never hear about his wife or family. And this comes to us from what Paul asks in First Corinthians 9:5:
5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
You recognize that James’ brother Jude wrote a small letter, an epistle, in which he opens up with the words:
1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James…
Of course, James wrote his own epistle with a much similar opening, similar wording:
1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…
So that gives us a bit of an overview of James’ life.
I’d like to also give a little overlook of the leadership of James. The life of James being what it was; there’s also something to consider about the leadership of James. And how did he become a leader anyway?
We have Scripture and early historians, both secular and Christian historians, who give us some insight into what took place there in those early days.
Eusebius, who was a church historian living in the fourth century, quoting from an earlier work by Clement says that:
“Peter and James and John, this is the James Senior, after the ascension of our savior, though they have been referred by our Lord, did not contend for the honor, but chose James the Just as bishop of Jerusalem.”
That’s pretty amazing considering the aspirations for power and leadership that particularly James and John had as they walked with Jesus in His earthly ministry. They wanted to have the positions of preeminence, of leadership. But Clement said they deferred to Jesus’ brother James and chose him to lead the church in Jerusalem. To me that speaks powerfully of the change that had been at work in the lives of these men.
Chronologically, the first reference to James as someone influential is mentioned by Paul in Galatians 1:18, he says:
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days, but I saw none other of the apostles save James the Lord’s brother.”
This probably happened around 37 AD or so; we’ll try to keep some of these dates in mind. It’s likely that James was put into leadership somewhere in the early 40s AD, with the first ten years or so of Pentecost. The next indication we have of his influence was around the year 44, in Acts 12:17. You’ll remember that James Senior was arrested by Herod, was put in prison, was beheaded, so he was off the scene. Herod saw how much that pleased the Jews, so he decided to take another one of the apostles, so he arrested Peter and the same design for him. Peter, of course, was delivered by an angel, came out of prison. He ended up at a prayer meeting that was in session for him. And once he was finally able to convince his brothers and sisters in Christ that their prayers had worked (always great to realize that prayer does work), he said this – he said:
“Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren…”
Indicates the position of leadership that James had. Particularly this position is established by the mid to late 40s or so. Paul writes about this in Galatians 2, he talks about how after fourteen years he went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas to see and make sure that the message he was preaching was approved by what he calls the “pillars” there in Jerusalem. So he shares with them what he had been teaching with the result being in verse 9:
9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
So they agreed to focus their ministry on the Jewish people, and Paul and Barnabas would focus on the Gentile people. They gave them the right hand of fellowship. James, of course, is listed first there indicating likely his preeminence in leadership in Jerusalem.
Also in the late 40s or early 50s we have the story from Paul in Galatians 2 where Peter had come from Antioch, and “[Paul] withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed” Paul says, for certain men came from James, certain men came from James and after they arrived in Antioch, Peter withdrew from fellowship with the Gentile Christians because of some sort of concern about what these Jewish believers would think from James. And Peter, and even Barnabas, was carried away, and the rest of the Jews, by this hypocrisy. Paul’s statement was to Peter:
“If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?…”
There’s a similar situation in Acts 15 – I don’t know if this was the same situation or not – where you have Jewish Christians from Jerusalem going to Antioch and attempting to Judaize the Gentile believers, meaning their preaching was “You have to as a Gentile have to first become a Jew first, then become a Christian. If you want to become a Christian, you have to become Jewish first, then become a Christian. Be circumcised, follow the commands of Moses, and that is the approved path to Christianity.” Obviously that raised a big dispute. James is not listed in that passage – says they came from him – but it caused a big stir, and so it led to a major brother’s meeting, or maybe you could say a leader’s meeting, in Jerusalem. Paul, Barnabas, a bunch of people from Antioch traveled to Jerusalem to pass down what should be done about Gentile believers? What should be expected of them?
And what’s fascinating is you have Peter standing up and sharing what he’s sharing, a lot of disputing going on. Paul and Barnabas shared what God had done through them, and then it says everything became silent.
Then James spoke up, and he gives a summary of what he sees going on, he quotes some Scripture, and he provides a path forward as to what he believes ought to be done in telling the Gentile Christians what they should do, or what is expected of them, in order to follow the Messiah. As a result of that stand by James and that leadership is that everyone was pleased, and a letter was drafted and was sent back to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, as well as emissaries from the Jerusalem church, and everywhere they went sharing this message of what was decided there was encouragement, there was joy, there was peace, there was excitement. Why? Because James had exercised wise leadership, the church banded together, and they all recognized that this pleasing to the Holy Spirit. This is the direction that we ought to take. And that account is where I really see the indisputable authority of James in the church there.
There’s one final passage that has James’ leadership fingerprints on it, and that is in Acts 21; it’s probably the mid to late 50’s AD by now. This is the story of Paul travelling to Jerusalem along with his entourage. The brother received them gladly, and it says that:
“…after they’d gotten there, the following day Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present. And when he had greeted them, he told in detail the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry, and when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, you see how many myriads of Jews there are that believe and they are all zealous for the law, but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses.”
This is a big concern. “Paul, are you saying that Jewish Christians shouldn’t follow Moses?” Now, this can get a little bit perplexing here in what happens next. What happens next is: it doesn’t mention James’ name, but it says he went in with James and the elders, at least the elders have this plan, they said to Paul, “Look, here all four men that have made a vow. We want you to pay their expenses, and also be purified yourself to prove to all the Jewish brothers that you still walk in an orderly manner and you support the law of Moses.” Now this is Paul; Paul is the one who, if I have my Romans correct, really comes down hard on the law, and the fact that the law is put away; the law of Moses is unnecessary. The law of Moses – that’s for back there. We have something new. This Paul submits to this plan, to show the people, the Jewish Christians, that he is (and the Jewish non-Christians) that he is still walking orderly, and he still supports the law of Moses. What are we to make of all of that?
In a nutshell, I believe Paul was living out what he expressly stated. “To the Jew, I will become as a Jew. I will become all things to all people without denying my Messiah.” I believe that what James was living. I believe that was his vision, his desire. This is what I see in James’ leadership.
Now remember, the guys that came from James, some of them were really zealous, and they felt like the Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. I’m not sure how that all went down, but it indicates to me that, if nothing else, James was a devout Jewish Christian. He did not see that as two things that had to be split apart or divorced one from another.
What we see in James’ leadership is several things. But James was about doing. John Maxwell says that “leaders have a bias for doing things, for getting things done.” James was a leader. James had a bias for getting things done. He was a doer. We can confirm that from his letter. James says in his epistle that he wants his listeners to be swift to hear, but then he hastens on to say that he doesn’t want them to just be hearers but be doers, doers of the Word. Faith and works must not be put asunder. His is a letter that moves, and it wants people to move.
Someone has noted that James’ short letter has fifty-four imperatives, that means fifty-four “do somethings,” in one hundred eight verses. That’s on average one “do something” for every two verses. This is a man who was doing things. And he was calling people to do things. He was a doer. He wasn’t a Judaizer, but he was a doer. And he believed that Gentile believers should also be doers. And he wasn’t just about doing; James was about doing hard things. Hard things. By his example, he chose to continue living as a devout Jew after his conversion. And he did this without denying his brother Messiah. And was apparently so strict in his expectations of himself that his disciples tended to take it one step further and assume that he would endorse the Judaizing of the Gentiles. That’s the sort of influence that I see James wielding in the Jerusalem church.
So the life of James; the leadership of James; these are things we can learn from. But what is the legacy of James?
You can imagine that such a legendary figure has all sorts of fanciful stories that would have been attached to him. And so it’s tough to figure out, sifting back through the mists of time and the biases of historians, exactly what all we should believe about him. That’s how fanciful some of the stories are. And yet I believe there are certain things that are true, as we look at his life and his letter, and how they corroborate.
One of the accounts talks about how he was a great intercessor. And he was much on his knees. And he was praying for his people. I believe that’s corroborated by his letter; he talks about how Elijah was a man of like passions like we are, and he prayed, and stopped the rain for three and a half years. We also have the power through prayer to do mighty things.
The legend is that his knees became as hard as camel knees. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but he apparently spent a lot of time in prayer, praying for his people. He was very concerned about the Jewish people.
Obviously, he led as an elder or bishop for twenty or twenty-five years, or so. What a wonderful legacy that is. He lived a wise and blameless life. In fact, he lived in such a way that he became known as James the just, or James the righteous. Talk about an amazing nickname, an amazing description.
By about this time, he was likely in his late fifties, early sixties, and you would think that such an upright man would have no enemies. But you know, he faced the same sorts of enemies that his perfect brother did, and historic accounts state that James became so influential to winning Jewish people to Christ, to the Kingdom, that the leaders became very alarmed. People from their own ranks were starting to recognize Jesus as Messiah. “We’ve got to do something about this man.” So, there are varying accounts. Was it the Sadducees? Was it the Pharisees? Whoever it was, it seems like it was religious leaders who concocted a plan to put James at the center of attention during Passover. Apparently they came to James, talked to him, said “We know that you are a just man. You do not show partiality. You are no respecter of persons. You treat everyone the same. Everyone respects you because you don’t respect persons. And we want you to stand up in the midst of the Passover and explain to everyone who is here who Jesus is.” And their hope was to pressure James to renounce Christ so that people would stop flocking to the Messiah. I don’t think James was looking for this. I don’t think he was angling for it. But somehow he was placed on a high place of the temple, the pinnacle, or a high wall, or something, and they commanded him to speak of Jesus.
And what he said was clear and unequivocal. The account says that his statement was,
“Why do ask me about Jesus, the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens at the right hand of great power, and is about to come on the clouds of heaven.”
And as many were confirmed in the glorious testimony of James, the said “Hosanna to the son of David.” The priests, the leaders recognized that they had miscalculated their scheme. They realized that this thing was backfiring. Suddenly they decided they had to do something to stop this thing that was going off the rails. According to the accounts, they pushed him off of that high place to the pavement below, or something of that nature, in an attempt to kill him. However, he wasn’t killed. He survived, hurting, I would imagine. He was able to get onto his knees, and he began to pray for them. They were so enraged that they began to stone him to do away with him. But James on his knees is praying, “I entreat you, oh Lord God and Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
And according to the account, one of the priests who was of the house of Rechab – remember the Rechabites who were highly esteemed by Jeremiah the prophet – a priest of the house of Rechab stood by said, “Stop, what are you doing? This just man is praying for you.” So you have a great melee going on with crowds who are very supportive of James. You have religious leaders who are angry at James and seeking to destroy him. They stoned him and continued to attempt to do him in until a fuller – this is a man who beats out material to clean it; a boy uses a club to clean out that cloth – apparently a fuller or someone who had a fuller’s club came along, and it says they beat out James’ brains there, and he died.
And so James suffered martyrdom, but his legacy is one of a faithful witness, one who endured unto the end. Interestingly enough, Josephus who is a non-Christian, non-believing Jewish historian, claims that immediately after this, whether it was immediately, or several years right after this, the Romans put Jerusalem under siege. And Josephus says that he blames, or he considers that it was because of the mistreatment, the injustice, the murder of James the Just.
And he’s not the only one; there are other people who were looking on who went through those days, who lived through those days who also felt that the Jewish or the Roman siege was directly related to the mistreatment of James. Faithful until death, a characteristic of his legacy.
Another aspect of James’ legacy is his willingness to remain within a strict religious culture in order to win the people of that culture.
Today, were in a setting right here where there are people who are or have been Amish, perhaps Nationwide, Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite, River Brethren, German Baptist, Washington County Mennonite, or something similar. My beloved brethren, I appeal to you to consider the example of James. It may well be God’s will for you to remain within a strict religious culture in order to affect positive influence within that culture. Obviously, James’ culture didn’t even accept the New Testament, so you’ve got it a lot easier than he did. I do not see our Lord’s brother isolating himself, either, from the broader group of believers. He was willing to blend in, if you will, to recognize a culture and be part of that culture, and not seek to be individualistic or to stand out.
He lived his life in such a way that it encouraged his followers to do radical things. He lived his life in a way that makes me uncomfortable with how much he integrated with Jewish culture, but I’m here to learn from him. At a minimum, I think it is time for us to stop bashing strict, God-fearing religious cultures. The only way to overcome the dominant world culture is to live and present a dominant, radical Christian culture, within the Kingdom context, of course.
Interestingly, the liberals thought that James was conservative because he appeared to be a Judaizer. And then on the other side of the spectrum you have the conservatives who considered him liberal because his letter doesn’t say anything about the Mosaic law. There’s a lot of doing in there, but nothing about the Mosaic law. That is part of his legacy.
Now that’s not the best part of it. I mean, anyone can appear more conservative to those who were more liberal than he, or more liberal to those who are more conservative than he. I think that could even have happened today. You know, when I first got up to speak, and those of you who are here today or are watching online, when you saw I was wearing a plain suit, it’s possible that you immediately put me into the more conservative camp. But for those of you who are listening on the telephone line or a future recording, it’s also possible that when you heard me begin with a narrative, with a story, and did not see how I was dressed, you put me into a more liberal camp. Isn’t that interesting? It still happens today.
So the amazing thing is not that James appeared more conservative to those who were more liberal, or more liberal to those who were more conservative, the amazing thing is that people who were on all sides of James looked at James and they said, “This is a just man. The way this man is living is right, and it is good, and it is righteous. And yes, the culture is a little strange to us, but it’s a good way. It’s a godly way. It’s a way to points to Christ. It is a Kingdom way.” That, my brothers and sisters, is the legacy of James. The fact that people who didn’t even agree with him looked at him as a man to be trusted, and yes, even a man to be emulated.
Probably the best known part of James’ legacy is the Bible book that bears his name. In five short chapters, he packs quite a punch. But he does so from a distinctly Christian perspective. I like how commentator Douglas Moo says it. He says,
“James depends more than any other New Testament author on the teaching of Jesus. It is not that James directly quotes Jesus, rather that he weaves Jesus’ teaching into the very fabric of his own instruction. The author of the letter seems to have been so soaked in the atmosphere and specifics of Jesus teaching that he can reflect them almost unconsciously.”
James was so filled with the teachings of his brother, so permeated, that the wisdom of Christ, and the way of Christ, and word of Christ, simply flowed out of his writing.
So this is my challenge for you today. I leave you with a challenge to do something. My challenge is not just to hear the word of James’ brother, but to do it. My challenge is for you to pick up the Sermon on the Mount, and to read it today. Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Read it today and every day for thirty days, and every day I’m calling you to ask yourself the question as you read that passage, “Am I obeying these commands? Am I obeying these commands?” I’m calling you to saturate yourself, to soak yourself in the words of Christ, in the words of our King, so that we too, like James, can present a life, leadership, and legacy that honor our King.