Devotional: ‘The Skeptic Who Became a Saint’

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This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.  (James 1:1)

That simple introduction may not seem that significant; that is, until you consider who it is that wrote it. We know that his name was James, but which James? There are at least three men mentioned in the New Testament who had the name James.

There was James, the brother of John and the son of Zebedee. There was James, the son of Alphaeus. And there was another James, who was the half-brother of Jesus. Many Bible scholars believe that it was this James, who was the half-brother of Jesus, who wrote this letter. Of the three men, James, the half-brother of Jesus, was the most amazing to have done so. Why do I say this? Consider this passage from the gospel of John.

Soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this!  If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. (John 7:1-5)

I suppose that it was difficult growing up under the shadow of an older brother like Jesus. Jesus never did anything wrong. He never was called down or disciplined. He always excelled at everything He did. No doubt His younger half-brothers resented not only His achievements, but also His popularity. Paul tells us that it took a special post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to convince James that He was indeed the Christ and the way of salvation. We read from the book of Corinthians –

1 Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles…

Too often we write people off as if there is no way they will ever become a believer. Yet the conversion of men like Paul and James teach us otherwise. What is even more amazing is that often it is those who are the most resistant at first, who end up becoming some of the Lord’s greatest servants. The book of Acts teaches us that James eventually became one of the prominent leaders of the church in Jerusalem.

So, who is the James in your life that you need to keep praying for their salvation?

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