“Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. -1 Corinthians 15:7
We are today in the 40-day period after Easter Sunday when Jesus originally made all of His post-resurrection appearances, ten in all. Sometime just prior to His last appearance to all the apostles when He ascended into heaven, He appeared to His half-brother James, according to the Apostle Paul, when James was apparently alone. Why? James, the first born after Jesus to Mary and Joseph, was among Jesus’ siblings who did not believe He was who He said He was, the Son of God. They thought He was quite mad and out of His mind. Being the oldest, James was perhaps the dominant leader of his brothers and sisters in their unbelief.
So, at the time of Jesus’ resurrection these siblings were still unbelievers of the Messiah. His stepfather, Joseph, was dead. His mother, Mary, believed in her Son, but the Scriptures tell us His own siblings were skeptics. They had grown up with Him in the same household. And, contrary to the apocryphal stories told about Jesus’ miracles and supernatural acts as a child, they had not witnessed anything to believe He was supernatural; this is a good indication that those apocryphal stories were false myths concocted long after. Jesus’ changing the water into wine at the wedding at Cana was actually declared by John to be His first miracle.
Jesus, knowing James was the key to reaching the rest of His siblings with the truth of who He really was, appeared in His resurrected state to him alone, knowing that James being convinced of Jesus’ resurrection would lead to his brothers’ and sisters’ belief as well. The appearance of Jesus to His half-brother made all the difference in the world. It was the catalyst for James not only to fully believe, but to soon become the leader of the church in Jerusalem. From skeptic to committed and passionate believer, James became a stalwart among the saints of the early church up to his martyrdom in 62 AD.
James and his younger brother Jude became authors of two of the books of the New Testament, two books focused on living lives of committed Christian character and intense integrity, while still encouraging mercy to those who doubt, as they themselves had doubted when they were so close to Him, even half-brothers of the true Messiah. They were by their personal experience perfect instructors to those who doubt to perseveringly nurture them to an understanding of the truth as it is in Jesus (Jude 22-23).
The post-resurrection appearances were relatively few, but they accomplished the powerful purposes Jesus intended for them. We would not have known of this appearance to James were it not for the brief mention by Paul in Corinthians. This again displays the full sufficiency of Scripture to provide you everything you need to live lives worthy of the calling to which you have been called, even brief phrases. Your Bible, God’s precious Word, is your lifeline to everything you truly need. Treat it so.
“Undimmed by time, the Word is still revealing to sinful men Your justice and Your grace; and questing hearts that long for peace and healing see Your compassion in the Savior’s face.
(3rd verse of Sarah Taylor’s hymn, “God of Light, Your Word, A Lamp Unfailing, 1952)
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