The Main Thing – James 1:1
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
First off, who is James? Which James is this? I’ll skip through the process of how we got here, but conservative scholars pretty much agree that this is James, the brother of Jesus (aka James the Just). Remember, James was not a follower of Jesus until after the resurrection. During the ministry of Jesus, James and his brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:1-5), and at one point they even believed that He was out of His mind (Mark 3:21).
This is a really short introduction, and the main thing he is trying to do is to introduce who he is and what he is doing. But then, what can we really learn from a “hello”? James identifies himself as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the same James that tried to stop Jesus in His ministry because he didn’t believe He was God, and now he is claiming to be His servant. This word carries with it the idea of a willing slave for life.
Why did he change his mind? What happened to James that he would totally turn from believing that Jesus was crazy to becoming His servant? I believe the answer to this is in 1 Cor 15:7. After Jesus died and rose from the grave, He appeared to James. That did it. When James saw his brother alive after His death he could not help but believe. Stop and imagine that for just a second. The easiest thing for us to understand is James’ unbelief. How would you feel if your older brother called himself God? Pretty hard to believe, but then imagine that he died and rose from the grave. That’s a game changer.
And he goes on even farther. James calls Jesus, Lord and Christ. I don’t want to read too much into this, but the word translated “Lord” is the same word that the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) used for Yahweh (the covenant name of God) and the word “Christ” carries with it the Old Testament concept of the Messiah. James is testifying that his older brother is the Lord, the Messiah, equal to God. What a huge testimony to the power of conversion! James was the biggest skeptic of Jesus during his life and ministry, but after he saw His power over death and hell he became one of His biggest followers. We even see him become the main pastor of the church in Jerusalem.
So then, what can we learn from this for our lives today? No one is untouchable by the Gospel. James opposed Jesus throughout His entire ministry, but was converted and ultimately gave his life for his beliefs. We too must realize the need to submit to the Lord in everything. He is the Messiah, our personal Savior, and God. Our lives are to be lived for His glory.