Transforming Ordinary People into Extraordinary Followers of Christ

Book of James – A Prologue: My Big Brother

Sermon Summary

Last Sunday we completed a 13-part series on the New Testament book written by and bearing the name of Jesus’ little brother, James. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Seeing is believing.”, but James thoroughly disproves it. James spent more than 30 years seeing perfection—watching Jesus “up close and personal”—and yet he was a scoffer who rejected Jesus’ claims to deity (John 7:2-5).

How could this be? James wasn’t just unobservant or a little dense—he was spiritually blind, and that’s true for every human who doesn’t recognize who Jesus truly is (2 Corinthians 4:4). Yet, within weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, James was a believer (Acts 1:1-3, 14). James was transformed from an unbelieving scoffer into someone who worshiped his brother as God-incarnate!

James was so profoundly changed that:

  • He voluntarily made himself his brother’s slave (James 1:1)!
  • James now referred to Jesus as “our glorious Lord” (2:1).
  • James said that henceforth no one should make plans that don’t have Jesus’ approval (4:15).
  • James’ opinion of his brother was so profoundly changed that he referred to his brother as the Judge of the whole world! (4:12 & 5:9; cf. John 5:22).
  • James lived in the daily expectation and hope that Jesus, the only Lawgiver and Judge, would bodily return to earth to take us to be with him (5:8).

What changed James’ opinion? The risen Christ appeared to him (1 Corinthians 15:3-7). It took the resurrection to convince James that Jesus was special—but it was what happened at Christmas, it was the virgin birth which made Jesus who he was!

No other issue is more important to our understanding of who Christ is than the virgin birth and the incarnation. The incarnation was prophesied 700 years earlier (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35). Why is the virgin birth so important? Because if Jesus were not the unique, sinless, God-man, then he cannot pay the penalty we owe (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

Genesis 3:15 is the very first reference to a future Savior. Jesus was “bruised on the heel”, but he crushed Satan (1 John 3:8b). But there even is a veiled reference to the virgin birth! Although the word “seed” (ie, descendant) occurs well over 200 times in the Bible, it always refers to a man’s seed, or sperm—except for this verse! Jesus is so more than merely James’ big brother. He is Immanuel, “God with us”. He came to save his people from their sins. What will you conclude about Jesus?

Application / Challenge

  • You’ve got to deal with Jesus. Who was he—mere man—or sinless Son of God, glorious Lord, Savior of the world, and returning judge of all? We each must decide what we will do with Jesus.
  • If you’re not sure what to conclude about Jesus, read Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter.
  • If you already believe that Jesus is God’s Son and the Savior of the world, do what James did: Recognize him as glorious Lord; voluntarily make yourself his slave. Submit all of your plans and choices to him as the Judge of all humanity. Live each day in joyful expectation of his return.
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