Today marks the first in a series of five sermons from the letter of James. The author identifies himself simply as a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. From internal biblical evidence and early church historians, we learn that he was the half brother of Jesus. He was the leader of the Jerusalem church, and along with Peter and John, considered to be a pillar in the early church. As with his other brothers, he was skeptical of Jesus, but was converted when he became an eyewitness of the Resurrection. One of the historians of that time period identifies him as “James the Just”. He was known for his extraordinary godliness, zeal for the law of God, and devotion to prayer. It was said that his knees were so calloused from kneeling in prayer that they resembled the knees of camels.
The Jewish historian, Josephus, records that James was martyred in 62 AD. Other accounts add that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a club. His letter that we have in our Bibles was written to Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. It is a practical letter that deals with the trials of life, putting faith into action, taming our tongues, dealing with pride, and many other issues of living the Christian life. This letter, written around 49AD, is still pertinent and applicable to Christians living in the 21st century. My prayer is that we be blessed and challenged.
– Terry A. Morrison