Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

“James the Just”

PART I: “For not even His brothers were believing in Him.” -John 7:5

James was one of Jesus brothers, or half-brothers, depending on how you choose to look at it. He, along with his brothers, did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. According to the estimated time table before the beginning of the New Testament in my Bible (The MacArthur Study Bible), the events described in John chapter 7 took place less than a year before Jesus was flogged to the brink of death by a Roman soldier, forced to carry the horzontal beam of the cross down streets and through crowds, had nails driven through his wrists and feet, had his shoulders dislocated when the horizontal bar was attached to the vertical beam of the cross, and died once his legs, supported only by his ankle bones against the nail(s) through his feet, were no longer able to raise his body weight so that he could breathe (Lee Strobel; in his interview with Alexander Metherell, M.D., Ph.D.; in “The Case for Christ” pp191-204 or 255-274, depending on whether you have the big or little paperback copy). So James probably didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah when He was crucified.

PART III: “The Martyrdom of James, who was called the Brother of the Lord.” -Eusebius, chapter XXIII of “Church History”

“…the Jews… turned against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles. The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him. Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Saviour and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear longer the testimony of the man who, on account of the excellence of ascetic virtue and of piety which he exhibited in his life, was esteemed by all as the most just of men, and consequently they slew him.”

“But as many as believed did so on account of James. Therefore when many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming therefore in a body to James, they said, ‘We entreat thee, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we bear thee witness, as do all people, that thou art just… Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position thou mayest be clearly seen, and that thy words may be readily heard by all the people.”

“The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: ‘Thou just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.’ And he answered with a loud voice, ‘Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.'”

“…these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another, ‘We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.'”

“So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, ‘Let us stone James the Just.’ And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, ‘I enreat thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”

“…And one of them… took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom.”

–Eusebius, “Church History”, chapter XXIII; found in “The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers”, Second Series, Volume I, pp125-127

PART II: “then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;” -1 Corinthians 15:7

I am sure that you noticed that I went from PART I directly to PART III. That was intentional. What happened in the life of “James the Just”? In spite of all of the miracles that Jesus performed and the unnatural wisdom that He possessed, James did not believe that his Brother was the Messiah less than a year before He was crucified. What would cause him to be transformed and profess that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, become one of the “pillars” of Christianity (Galations 2:9), and refuse to renounce that belief even though it clearly would lead, and did lead, to his death?

From a worldly perspective, could he have had something to gain by professing that Jesus was the Messiah? Absolutely not. Christ had just been brutally murdered-as described above-and the only promise to His followers was a similar fate. This promise was fulfilled, and James was also brutally murdered.

What causes a man to believe in something that comes with not only a likelihood, but a promise of a brutal murder?
What causes a man to cling to that belief, when he can avoid his doom by simply telling his antagonists what they want to hear?
What causes a man to pray for the men who just threw him off of a building and are throwing stones at him?

1 Corinthians Chapter 15 answers all those questions and more:

“For I delivered to you as of the first importance what I also receive, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whome remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”

-the apostle Paul, in 1 Chorinthians 15:3-8

NOTES-

*All verses used here are from the “Updated NASB” version as it appears in “The MacArthur Study Bible” that “For [Jim Hamilton, Jr.] so loved his [brother], that he gave [this Bible to him], that whoever believes in [God] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

*The Bible is used here as a credible source; if you doubt the Bible’s credibility (as I did), I urge you to read “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel (as I did). The first six chapters address the credibility of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and if you accept the credibility of the gospels (as I do), you can’t help but accept the entire Bible as the Word of God (as I do).

*Eusebius is also used as a credible source here, although I do not know a lot about him- I plan to do a rewrite of this blog once I a) read the entire book of James-which was written by “James the Just”, and b) research more about Eusebius. I do know that the first 73 pages of the book from which I quoted all of PART III are devoted to his life, works, death, and credibility, among other things; and that the Roman Emperor Constantine considered Eusebius “…worthy, in the judgement, I may say, of all the world, to have the oversight of the whole Church.”

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August 25, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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