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James the Just

Little Bobby was spending the weekend with his grandmother after a particularly trying week in kindergarten. His grandmother decided to take him to the park on Saturday morning. It had been snowing all night and everything was beautiful.

His grandmother remarked…”doesn’t it look like an artist painted this scenery? Did you know God painted this just for you?”

Bobby said, “Yes, God did it and he did it left handed.”

This confused his grandmother a bit, and she asked him, “What makes you say God did this with his left hand?”

Well,” said Bobby, “we learned at Sunday School last week that Jesus sits on God’s right hand!”


Can you imagine being the younger brother or sister of Jesus? Part of me thinks that would have been so cool. Part of me thinks that it might have brought tons of pressure. James, sit up straight at the table like Jesus. Joses, don’t run down the hall…Jesus doesn’t. Judas, can’t you finish your school work as fast as Jesus? Simon, can’t you be still like Jesus? I’m not sure if all that happened. My guess there were times when it did…Mary and Joseph were human like us. I’m sure there was wonderment too when Mary or Joseph would tell the story surrounding Jesus’ birth. I’d imagine there was also some envy or jealousy as well.

This week’s focus is on one of Jesus siblings (Mark 6:3). James is noted not many times, but enough to be noticed. James’ story is not unlike many in the church today. It is recorded in John 7:1-5 that his brothers didn’t believe in him. This is where Jesus is 30+ years of age and assuming that they were probably late teens and twenties. His own family, not including mom and dad, did not believe in him. That must have been a burden for Jesus. Tradition holds that James did not believe until after his brother, Jesus’, resurrection from the dead. After this, we see a huge change.

There are many times where people don’t “see the light” until they are older. Jesus was right under the nose of his brothers and sister, yet it is recorded that the brothers didn’t believe. Some adults go through so much in life, are surrounded by incredible Christian influences, yet don’t see the love of God or believe in it. Then at one certain point in time, something clicks. Something makes sense, leading them to make a life changing decision.

James made that decision and life was not the same. He goes from being Jesus’ oldest/unbelieving sibling, to being an impartial person and leader of the church family in Jerusalem. He was a trusted person in the church. Peter respected Him. Paul found him worthy of honor. Many others looked to him for guidance and instruction.

All the time, as Jesus family was following Him around, still not believing, James was taking it all in. He was focused on his brother’s Word. He must have understood the logic and simplicity of God’s grace. It just looks like all he needed was proof…a Jesus who came back from the dead. When he saw his brother alive (1 Cor. 15:7), his heart changed. Everything he had been taking in, all of the words and stories of his brother now became the words and stories of the Son of God. What a priviledge.

Two questions that come up for us from this bit of history. 1. Are we patient with those we are mentoring…not giving up, but knowing that at some point they might “get it?” I can imagine that when Jesus was teaching, every once in awhile he’d lock eyes with James to make sure he was hearing this wisdom from Heaven, knowing the payoff would be a believing brother with a gift of leadership for His soon to be church. 2. Do things still “click” for us? Are we still searching for truth, even though we are all growing older? Do we allow our behavior to change when the “click” happens? James must have had a huge change to progress from unbeliever to visible and named leader of the church family in Jerusalem. Do we keep searching and running after the “bigger” plan?

Here we have a simple story with huge implications. Where do you fit in the story…where do your students fit?

For Kids – I’d focus on the part that Jesus had a family of brothers and sisters…just like most of us do, unless we’re an only child. However, even in this case, it would be easy to imagine Jesus as an older brother. How would they like growing up like this? Jesus had 4 brothers that we know of and at least 2 sisters. Mary and Joseph had a full house!

Another thing is the “Love your neighbor as yourself.” James had to see Jesus do this the whole time he and his family followed Him. The focus here would be James 2:1-4, where James talks about treating all people with love and respect…his nickname was James the Just. You could talk about how James watched Jesus treat all people with love…and now, he is writing that people should do the same. Below are some links that will help you connect this to the James story. Don’t feel pressured about mixing and matching. I kinda see it like this. James watched Jesus love his neighbors. James finally believed in Jesus. James learned to love his neighbors like Jesus did.

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